The Modernization of Indonesian Jewellery Design


Being a country of rich history and cultural background has really made Indonesia a great nation, in particular, in the craftsmanship department. Indonesian jewellery as part of our heritage is actually has been known and acknowledged for many centuries, not only for its unique design but also the quality. One can still witness the greatness of ancient gold craftsmanship at the National Museum. These days, this heritage is continuing to inspire many current jewellery designers in Indonesia.

In the past, jewellery is created with several reasons from fashion to ceremonial purposes. The existence of jewellery can be traced back even from the stone age where the early human will polish some stones into beads and arrange it into a simple necklace or bracelet. As civilisation progresses, the role of jewellery is also used to show a social status, as a religious reliquary, and for ceremonial purposes to the royal families around the world.

In Indonesia, we have seen many great jewellery designers who are inspired by this fascinating historical past and use it for their current collection. The renowned duo designers Happy Salma and Sri Luce Rusna who founded Tulola Jewelry in 2007, for example, bring the local wisdom heritage from their own area in Bali and infused it with modernity to fit the present time. One of their iconic signature pieces is the subeng earrings and it is one of the trends that are very popular among its demography.

Inspired by traditional Balinese jewellery design, subeng is a kind of ornamented stud with an oversize padding at the back. Tulola used this as inspiration and imbued a modern touch by giving it a soft floral design using various gemstones such as black onyx, green quartz, amethyst briolette, white topaz, moonstone, to even pearls. On several other subeng designs, they also changed the traditional long padding at the back of the earring into a pyramid shape to give the contemporary look.

Tulola Jewelry is not alone on recycling our local wisdom heritage into a current trend in this field. The renowned jewellery designer John Hardy who is also based in Ubud, Bali also follows this footstep by making a tribute to Balinese mystical animals and folk legend, with the dragon head (or naga in Bahasa Indonesia) as its main signature.

Using gold or silver as the main material, John Hardy who originally comes from Canada and arrived in Bali in the 70’s also inspired to combine the traditional handmade technique of making jewellery with his western knowledge. As the result, John Hardy brand has become an international sensation in luxury boutiques at the 5th Avenue in New York, to Hong Kong, Russia, as well as many other European countries.

To use the local wisdom heritage as the design inspiration is an important approach for many successful Indonesian jewellery designers, including Rinaldy A.Yunardi. Hailed as our award-winning celebrity jewellery designer who has been designed for the likes of Madonna, Nicki Minaj, to the entire Asian Games 2018 dancer troop costumes, Rinaldy agrees that the art value on Indonesian craftsmanship will always be the strength of Indonesian jewellery design.

As the designer who always creates with his heart, Rinaldy believes that personal expression wrapped in the modern eclectic can be achieved within the local wisdom principals. ‘I like to keep the traditional hand craftsmanship technique in making my jewellery as this is part of our culture’, as he told us in person. He will infuse this with modern aspects from gemstones, acrylic, colourful resin, to Swarovski crystals that have become one of his signatures.

The trend of Indonesia jewellery design might be varied in creation and materials, however, many of these great designers agree that the local wisdom heritage really makes a great source of inspiration in order for them to create the new trend.

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Erza S.T.
Erza has pursued his great passion for opera and classical music for over a decade. His brainchild, the Indonesia Opera Society, has produced many classical music concerts and operas, and recently marked its 10th anniversary with a gala production. He is also a journalism lover focusing on luxury, lifestyle and travel stories, which he files from datelines around the globe.