Posted by byHillTribe on July 10, 2012

Longan harvest season begins at Na Sai Karen Hill Tribe Village

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It’s been a while since our last visit to Na Sai Village, a Thai hill tribe village predominantly made up of the Karen tribe, the same Karen hill tribe village that at one time busily crafted each individual silver jewelry components we’ve all come to know as “Hill Tribe Silver”. Our visit today is not about silver but more about what’s coming up in a couple of weeks– harvest time for the Logan ลำไย plantation การเก็บเกี่ยวลำไย.

This is suppose to be the mother-load harvest of the last decade for some families, including a large Karen family we’ve known for many years. Everyone’s excited, including us! That’s awkward considering we’re now receiving more orders to manufacture silver beads than we have in the previous 6 months. In actual reality, we should be very excited to get back to hammering and string out silver beads and jewelry but this year is much different. Our Karen families have been waiting for this year for a very long time. Like any other plantations, the biggest harvest season doesn’t come every year and even if it did, the price for the fruit doesn’t always make it profitable. This year is different. Not only did the Longan tree yield more fruit, the price is also at the highest per Kilogram than any previous year. The Eakarak, Karen family is expecting to realize profit of nearly 1 Million Baht for this year’s Longan Harvest season. Manufacturing silver beads will have to put on the side burner for a couple of weeks… we can understand why and certainly hope our customers will too.

Longan fruit nearly ready for harvest.

Our Karen artisans are the hardest working people we know. Often it seems that’s about all they are focused on– work. family. future. profit. survival. Don’t get us wrong; just as in any society, there are always some rotten or over ripe people that bring a bad name to their people. There is still much needed education in the village as euphoria of ignorance still remain, pushing many adolescents to drugs and prostitution. Fortunately this is rare enough that it doesn’t concern us any more. None the less, the world seems to rotate differently in Na Sai Village and we’re only an hour away from the big city of Lamphun.

“Out here time move slower, thunder is louder, stars are brighter, skies are clearer and 1 Baht can actually buy something,” Mr. Sak reminded us. On this particular day, we are envious of such wonderful atmosphere. Then we asked, how long will it take to harvest the Longan– “about 1 month,” he continued. “It takes a group of 4 all day to harvest all the fruit from 1 Longan tree,” he adds, “it may take us longer than a month this year considering the volume…” Counting only what our Karen families have in total, there are 880 Longan tree ready for harvesting. WOW. There looking for help so we may just be headed back up here with our own team to help our friends. Anybody interested– they’ll pay a labor fee of 3 baht per Kilogram! Maybe more if you’re a foreigner. LOL.

That said, we have to strategize our inventory and manufacturing procedure. Being that this too is our peak months of the year, we have to carefully plan how our artisans can benefit from both worlds– their Longan and also their skillful hands as silversmiths. Going head on and hammering out each order as normal is out of the question. Good thing the Karens produced more women than they do men. As it so happens, the Karen hill tribe women are just as useful, often more resourceful than their men. No offense but this part is true at least for the village of Na Sai, Prabhathuaythom, Lamphun, Thailand. So in conclusion, from the next 45 days, we will be relying on the Karen women of Na Sai to produce our silver– for the most part. We look forward to seeing the results and instead of thinking of this as a setbacks, we will look at this as an opportunity to see the difference in outcome of quality as well as reliability. We’ve work with these Karen families from Na Sai for many years– they are part of our extended family. That is we eat, play, giggle, laugh and cry together when the time come. Today we’re excited and when the Longan season is done and every fruit is cashed in, we will be joyfully laughing, celebrating and looking forward to a brighter future than before.

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The Karen, (called Kaliang or Yang in Thai) are found along most of the length of the Thai-Burmese border. Their population is about 300,000 in Thailand (as of 2010), with over four million in Burma. They are concentrated mainly in Mae Hong Son province, and western areas of Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Mae Sot, Chiang Rai and Phayao.

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Posted by byHillTribe on July 10, 2012

How hill tribe silver is used to make beautiful personal jewelry

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Handmade Jewelry: New Thai Hill Tribe silver pendant necklaces!.

It’s wonderful seeing some of our beautiful Karen hill tribe silver used in designs around the globe. This particular blog contains jewelry made by a loyal customer from Sacred Earth Jewelry. We want to give her support for her good work– Thank you so much for your support. We want to leave her name out as she is not aware we are blogging about her work. Please feel free to see some of her design and give her some support by clicking on the title link above or here: Handmade Jewelry: New Thai Hill Tribe silver

Seeing our customer’s creative handy work make us want to do more. We know the market is down right now and this is true not only for us but also for all of our customers. We know because you are ordering much, much less than before. Sales are down for everyone but this is no excuse for us to stop thinking of how we can continue to help you, our customers and the backbone of our business, the hill tribe artisans. We’ve worked with the Karen hill tribe at Na Sai village for nearly 10 years and just recently went on a trip to show our support and check in since it has been nearly a year since our last visit. What we saw reaffirms our notion that many silversmiths have now moved on to concentrate on their farms and plantations. The younger adults, particularly men have moved into bigger cities to find jobs to earn income for their family. During the big silver rush, many Karens were deceived by the constant workload that came about and sold property and plantations. These families are now struggling to get by as silversmithing is now a small portion of the income flow at Na Sai Karen Hill Tribe Village. It is a sad story we too did not expect to write about. More on this very soon as this blog is dedicated to Sacred Earth Jewelry and we want to keep like so.

Thank you for all your support Sacred Earth. We wish you all the best with your inspiring jewelry designs and hope to continue being your hill tribe silver supplier for many year to come. God bless!

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Posted by byHillTribe on July 2, 2012

Silver Price Triple Bottom: What does this mean to us, a small manufacturers using physical silver

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Silver Price Triple Bottom :: The Market Oracle :: Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting Free Website.

Excerpt from MarketOracle.co.uk

    There are 2 big differences between gold and silver which both suggest that silver has truly explosive upside potential from here. One is that silver has suffered a far more serious decline than gold over the past 2 years, with sentiment towards it becoming extraordinarily negative in the recent past, and the other that silver’s COT structure is now at record bullish levels, and far more bullish than that for gold. This is a situation where all it needed was some pivotal fundamental development – and last week we had it – to turn the tide in the other direction.

“Silver has truly explosive upside potential…” This is a common statement in the press lately and from a manufacturer’s point of view, we don’t truly appreciate it. Let’s face it, if you are a farmer and the price of your fertilizer is determined by what the stock market says it’s worth, then you’d likely have less desire an motivation to continue producing crops, right? Certainly you would if the price of that fertilizer goes up 10% this month and fall another 7% the next week then spike again another 15% the middle of the following month… Well, this is exactly how we feel dealing with silver, the US dollar, gas, oil and inflation in Thailand. Wow. There you have it– it’s hard to stay “inspired” and “motivated” when you know there are greedy bankers and traders pumping and manipulating the the stock market. This has happened for years and now “shit has hit the fan” and government has gotten involved with oversight, the public is more aware of what’s going on. Look at the Barclay Bank “interest rate” scandal for example. Why and how is it possible for big banks to get away with mass corruption? More oversight is needed. Yes, please! Watch these greedy people behind their terminals.

Being a small manufacturer of silver jewelry components in partnership with Phrabhat Huyathom Karen Hill Tribe Village, our company use the real physical metals (mainly silver and gold), we are effected by any immediate fluctuation of all the commodities, particular silver, gold, copper and the US Dollar. If price of silver spike or drop substantially, there a ripple in the pond and suddenly we find ourselves without any supply of physical gold or silver to manufacture our designs. Suppliers of silver granule often hold out on the sale for a day or two for the market to stabilize, this happens often when silver price drops quickly. And yes, it has happened all too often these last few years. Does this effect how our business operate, obviously it does. If the ingredient is not available, the cookies can’t be made…

You probably didn’t come here to hear us whining about things we have no control over. In summary, we certainly want to voice our opinion about what’s been going on lately in the markets, Europe, Americas and Asia. Corruption in politics is rife but not any more so than in business– so we’ve found out in recent years. We can’t stop it all but certainly there are ways to tame it. For the immediate solution, we’re vouching for more government oversight however this is likely headed for Doom as governments are subject of ridicule for bending over backwards for businessmen and companies with deep pockets. There’s just no end. Or is there?

What to do, what to do. LOL. We keep positive and keep motivating ourselves by just looking around the issue. Let the corrupt deal with the corrupt. We shall continue our work and trust God will provide the rest. Greed has hold on us all but there’s no point in having more power or money if there’s no satisfaction in anything we’ve done…

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Posted by byHillTribe on July 2, 2012

The Real Price of Gold: Story of an oppressed miner

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The Real Price of Gold — National Geographic Magazine.

Excerpt from National Geogrpahic

    Like many of his Inca ancestors, Juan Apaza is possessed by gold. Descending into an icy tunnel 17,000 feet up in the Peruvian Andes, the 44-year-old miner stuffs a wad of coca leaves into his mouth to brace himself for the inevitable hunger and fatigue. For 30 days each month Apaza toils, without pay, deep inside this mine dug down under a glacier above the world’s highest town, La Rinconada. For 30 days he faces the dangers that have killed many of his fellow miners—explosives, toxic gases, tunnel collapses—to extract the gold that the world demands. Apaza does all this, without pay, so that he can make it to today, the 31st day, when he and his fellow miners are given a single shift, four hours or maybe a little more, to haul out and keep as much rock as their weary shoulders can bear. Under the ancient lottery system that still prevails in the high Andes, known as the cachorreo, this is what passes for a paycheck: a sack of rocks that may contain a small fortune in gold or, far more often, very little at all.

    Apaza is still waiting for a stroke of luck. “Maybe today will be the big one,” he says, flashing a smile that reveals a single gold tooth. To improve his odds, the miner has already made his “payment to the Earth”: a bottle of pisco, the local liquor, placed near the mouth of the mine; a few coca leaves slipped under a rock; and, several months back, a rooster sacrificed by a shaman on the sacred mountaintop. Now, heading into the tunnel, he mumbles a prayer in his native Quechua language to the deity who rules the mountain and all the gold within.

The history of gold mining has been well-documented for thousands of years. And with the demand for this most precious of metals going nearly as far back as human history, miners have ventured to just about every corner of the planet in their quest to find it. Yet unlike the miners of yore that were commanded by kings, today’s miners are commanded by profits. With price of gold so high, the Human greed is easily manipulated. The poor always dream big, tend to gamble with their hard earned savings and often submit themselves to “freelance oppression.”

Two reasons to dislike Gold:

  • Gold is the currency of drug and weapons traffickers and Dubai is the favorite hub in the global bullion trade.
  • To extract each ounce of gold, it takes two or three ounces of mercury, which fouls waterways after being poured into rivers from the mining sites.

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