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October Special: Orders over $150 receive $7 off shipping  

Fresh Produce!
For October we have added many new designs to the site. My trip to Thailand was one of the best I've ever had. I found Hill Tribe Silver made into finished jewelry: something I'd never seen before. I was also able to restock many items we had run out of, as well as add several great new designs from various suppliers.

See below for details on the Hill Tribe Silver, and check the site later this month as we start to get our winter stock of jewelry and textiles from India.

October Birthstone: Opal or Tourmaline
With "the fire of the carbuncle, the brilliant purple of the amethyst and the sea green color of the emerald, all shining together in incredible union" opal clearly impressed Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD), Roman historian and author of the world's first encyclopedia. The Romans had been wearing opals for centuries and considered them a symbol of hope or purity, while for the early Greeks they embodied the powers of foresight or prophecy. The more fancifully minded Arabs thought that opals must have fallen from heaven in flashes of lightning thus achieving their unique play of color or "opalescence".

As it is found in all spectrums of color, tourmaline is often described as the "chameleon gemstone". It is not surprising to find a fine tourmaline that mirrors the exact semblance of other gemstones, such as emerald, ruby and sapphire. Some tourmaline crystals may even appear as crystallized rainbows with several bands of color, ranging from the most brilliant red to the deepest blue. Many refer to tourmaline as the "muses' stone", for they are meant to provide inspiration.

Hill Tribe Silver
Over 100 years ago, the Hilltribe peoples migrated south from China into what are now Burma, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. The six major tribes are the Karen (Kariang, Yang), the Hmong (Meo), the Yao (Mien), the Akha (Ekaw), the Lisu (Lisaw), and the Lahu (Mussur). The main profession of all these tribes is farming, and all of them tend to migrate whenever they feel that the soil at their present location is becoming depleted. Each tribe is distinct, with its own culture, religion, language, art, and dress.

With Thailand undergoing rapid growth, it is unclear whether these tribes will continue their traditional way of life, or whether they will be absorbed by ever-encroaching Thai society.

The Karen prefer to live in the foothills. Their bamboo houses are raised on stilts, beneath which they keep domestic animals: pigs, chickens, and buffaloes. Like all the Hill Tribes, they are skilled farmers who practice crop rotation. They also hunt for wild game with spears and crossbows, and use domesticated elephants to help clear the land.

Karen women are skilled in sewing and dyeing, and dress in white blouse-sarong combinations with colorful patterns or beads for trim. They wear their long hair tied back in a bun and covered with white scarves. The Karen are gentle, peaceful, and cooperative people who reserve their highest veneration for their ancestors and living elders.

Hill Tribe Silver is handmade by the Karen Tribe. Each piece is crafted by hand using techniques passed down from generation to generation. The mix used has a higher silver content at 95% - 99% than "sterling silver," which is 92.5%. More silver in the mix makes for a softer metal that is easier to bend and shape into the wonderful designs typical of Karen art.

Designs reflect the Karen observations of nature: bumblebees, dragonflies, stars and flowers. In addition, abstract designs like spirals, weaves and braids attach a spiritual significance when used. No two pieces are exactly alike.

Oxidation and hammer marks are part of the allure of this artisan jewelry. Explaining this to your customers will help them appreciate the work that goes into each piece and make it all the more desirable. Purchases of Hill Tribe Silver help to sustain an indigenous cultural handicraft and provides the Karen people with a reliable source of income.

Selling with a Story
When I make purchasing decisions, I generally look for something that has meaning. Early on, I learned that what interested me most about the goods I encountered in Asia was the story that lies behind almost everything you see on our site.

A good example of this is style R120, the Navratan Ring. It's an interesting ring: lots of different colored stones, a real conversation piece. The first one I bought was for myself, but when people asked about it and I told them why I bought it, they frequently wanted one for themselves.

The Navratan is a traditional Vedic Astrology ring. The stones represent the planets (Nav means "9" in Hindi, Ratan means "stone", nine stones, nine planets...). The underside of the ring face is left unfinished so that the stones touch the skin. This connection between body and stone is believed to help balance one's energy.

Side note: the Navratan is a two thousand year old jewelry design, but the ninth planet, Pluto, wasn't "discovered" by the Western scientists until the 1930's.

Having done more trade shows than I can count, I have learned that price will sell an item, quality will sell an item, beauty doesn't hurt, but often the easiest and most engaging sale is made with a story. Because of this I try to find items that have some unique history to them. When you see our new Hill Tribe Silver, you will understand what I am talking about. It is the sort of thing that when your customers put it on and understand what it is, they will not only buy from you this once but they will come back again to see what other stories you have for sale.

Highlights of the Site
New Arrivals section has all the latest goodies.
Hill Tribe Silver: Handcrafted silver jewelry from the Karen Tribe in Thailand.
Chain and Neckwire: New designs from Thailand, plus restocks.
Lots of new CLOSEOUTS!!!!

I'm very excited about the new merchandise I brought back from Thailand. It's so unique and interesting that I am sure it will be a big hit with customers. Here's wishing you well this October!


Mike McGinnis
Whirled Planet


New Arrivals:

Dragonfly Earring
Hand crafted Karen hill tribe dragonfly earring: $4.00
Spiral Flower Ring
Hand crafted Karen hill tribe silver ring in spiral flower motif. $8.25

Gilded Link Chain
Simple, clean lightweight chain with unusual links. Great for lightweight pendants. $3.50

October Special:
$7 off orders over $150

New Arrivals:

Raw Silk Scarves
In single and double sizes. Great colors, even better price: $4.50/$8
Amber Shapes Cuff
Yellow and green amber shapes bracelet. $37.25

Bumblebee Earring
Golden amber set in a cast bumblebee setting. $12.75

Our Promise:
You may return any item for any reason. We have a no-questions-asked policy. If you get something you don't like, for any reason, just send it back!

About Us:
All our silver jewelry is guaranteed sterling (at least 92.5% silver), and whenever possible each piece is stamped to indicate this. All our stones are genuine.

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