I am going to Nepal (Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Pokhara, Lumpini) very
soon. I would really appreciate any tips: places, museums, shops,
workshops etc… of interest for a jeweler and I am also looking for
good suppliers of sterling silver, vermeil and solid gold beads as
well as semi-precious and precious gemstone beads and cabochons.
You may want to double check the laws in Nepal about bringing gold
jewelry out of their country. One of my vendors often does business
there, and has no problem exporting silver items, but tells me they
actually have to wear on their person a large gold bracelet they buy
regularly to be able to go thru the Nepalese customs.
I lived in Nepal for two years, and while I was making metal
sculpture at the time, I can still give you some You
most definitely need to add Patan to your list of places to visit.
Bhaktapur has mask-making and pottery traditions, but it is Patan
(where I lived), that is where you should plan to spend time. There
are people who make cast Buddhist statues in a couple different
neighborhoods, people who make hammered brass and copper pots, and
goldsmith shops all over the central area of town. Often, you can see
work going in the front of the shop or inside a courtyard. The Patan
Museum is a really excellent museum. It’s right in the center of the
Patan main square. If know several people that would be able to help
you find specific craftspeople. Contact me offlist at natasha at
I would also recommend staying overnight in Patan, as it is very nice
strolling around in the evening as the local go about their shipping
and worship and the roasted snack sellers set up in front of the
temples in the middle of town. Much nicer than the pseudo-western
tourist quarters in Thamel.
In Kathmandu, you can head to New Road to see the gold shops that
have the latest trends in Indian gold jewelry, mostly catering to
buyers of wedding jewelry.
Heading north, the neighborhoods become a series of tiny alleyways,
each devoted to a certain trade (fabrics, oil pressing, glass
bangles). Another place that you should visit is Boudha, which is
the Tibetan area of town. In the early morning and at dusk, you can
see all of the Tibetans circumambulating the huge stupa. It’s a great
time to see all of them dressed and wearing their traditional
jewelry. There are a lot of stalls selling traditional Tibetan
jewelry in this area and if you walk along the back alleys, you can
workshops in which silver repouse butter lamps are being made.
As far as finding suppliers that you can use on an ongoing basis, it
is going to be really difficult. I don’t think I would try it unless
I was travelling back and forth myself to hand-carry the goods, or I
had a reliable person to do that for me. The vast majority of
Nepalis are very trustworthy, but they do have restrictive import/
export laws, and the officials in charge of the export division are
very corrupt. It was only with the help of a very skilled negotiator
that I was able to get my air cargo cleared without a bribe.
So, my point is, if you should find something you want ot use, try
to buy it on the spot. I am not sure if buying beads and cabochons in
Nepal will be a deal. The stones are mined and cut elsewhere. That
being said, some Indian suppliers (including realtives of the owners
of Gemorex in New York), have shops in the top hotels and along.
Durbar Marg. Since I wasn’t buying stones at the time, i can’t give
you a price comparison.