[Damascus and Amman] Jewelry Attractions

Jane, I envy you — I’ve not been to the Middle East for awhile, but
perhaps my experiences are still relevant. The obvious places to go
are to the suqs (open-air markets) in Damascus, Aleppo, and Amman, or
any other large city. You can watch those large brass trays being
made, and small items being cast in brass or aluminum. There is a
special section called the gold suq (for obvious reasons). Once you
go to a suq, you can ask where else to go for particular items. I
recall that in Aleppo, the Armenians specialized in silver filigree.
We also were able to watch silver and copper wire being laid into
designs on brass plates. I had hoped to find out if anyone still
used more “primitive” techniques in metalworking, but I think that
part of the Arab world has become too westernized. I saw the same
kinds of tools and equipment that I use myself. Syria is definitely
the best place to look – I couldn’t find as much metal work going on
in Jordan. However, look for any shops that are national handcraft
places, to see what still exists. Do ask if things are done by
"locals" or are imported from elsewhere. Everyone is friendly and
fun to talk to, especially when you show interest in their work. Oh
yes, you might check out the excellent national museums in Damascus
and Aleppo (and Amman) to see examples of their marvelous ancient
metalwork and also visit their gift shops. Enjoy! Judy Bjorkman