You’re thinking jewellery, ka-ching, can’t afford to buy jewellery in Bali, bananas, are you crazy? But this isn’t really about buying, necessarily. John Hardy jewellery is probably Bali’s most famous jewellery export, which isn’t a bad achievement considering how many silversmiths the island plays host to. You won’t however actually find John Hardy jewellery retailing anywhere on the island (I don’t think) as it’s almost all exported around the world, via their headquarters in Hong Kong, to the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. Ka-ching, indeed.
You can, however, visit the green-friendly workshop and showroom, which is tucked away amid rice fields a 20-minute drive from Ubud or a 30-minute drive from Sanur. You must make an appointment to do so, and it’s a bit tricky to find — you’ll need your own transport — but it’s worth the trip just to see the beautiful, vast all-bamboo showroom (Kapal Bambu), the Three Mountain workshop, the designers’ house, the “factory” floor and the stunning grounds, which boast organic gardens, the produce of which is used for staff lunches. Their lemongrass and tamarind iced tea, served with a hollowed-out lemongrass stalk as a straw while you take a seat amid the lush greenery, a goat here, a cow there, is also divine.
See their time-lapse video of Kapal Bambu being built over 10 weeks here.
The hand-made jewellery isn’t cheap — pieces are mostly around US$200 and up, way up — but there’s no pressure to buy, and they seem just as interested in promoting their sustainability philosophy as selling. John Hardy, the man, actually sold the business on in 2007, and turned his attentions to starting Bali’s widely-publicised Green School. But the focus of the brand he started after arriving in Bali back in 1975 remains centred on being environmentally responsible and, well, green.
If you do like or are interesting in buying jewellery, the style is a touch heavy on bling, but there are also some sleeker pieces to suit simpler tastes. I certainly would have been happy taking home pieces from their “Bamboo” collection, sigh. (Hardy started to grow difficult-to-source but native and environmentally-friendly bamboo on nearby Nusa Penida several years ago — some background here.)
You’ll get a quick tour of the workshop if you like as well, where you can see how the pieces are made, from casting right through to polishing — though stones are cut and set in Bangkok.
As this trip isn’t exactly in the centre of any tourist hotspot, it’s going to take a bit of time to get to — if you are on more than a backpacker budget, you could tie in a stop with a spa treatment at beautiful, and equally in-harmony-with-nature Fivelements, a 5-minute drive away deeper into Baturning village.
By Samantha Brown
Last updated on 18th April, 2015.