:: All prices listed are wholesale to shops :: Retail prices to individuals are twice those listed ::
Old ethnic jewelry has not been cleaned nor polished to preserve patinas and the overall appearance of the pieces at the time of collection. All jewelry is shipped non-sterile and ethnic jewelry should be assumed to have been previously used. Jewelry shown has traditionally been worn in stretched earlobe piercings. While some hilltribe jewelry may be made out of very high content silver, including anywhere from sterling silver up to fine silver in terms of purity, most of these old pieces should be assumed to be made from "tribal silver" or "coin silver," not sterling silver, which means there can be a greater content of nickel in them. They should be utilized in well-healed tissue when no nickel allergy is present or for collection, education, and display purposes only. Pieces have been selected to be both affordable and functional, but may also appeal to those beginning an ethnographic or tribal jewelry collection as well.
Jewelry on this page consists of various pieces from Indonesia, New Guinea, various old ethnic hilltribe silver plugs, weights, hoops, and earrings from the golden triangle region (northern Thailand, Burma, and China), Cambodia, and Vietnam, a bonus piece from the Solomon Islands, plus we have integrated this region with parts of mainland Asia, such as China (and has thus been renamed!).
We have also featured Laos, the Philippines, and Malaysia (especially Sarawak) in the past.
Several pieces are not attributed to a specific tribe or point of origin as they were sold as a whole collection. Names mentioned below such as Hmong, Miao, Karen, and Kayah, are some of tribal groups from this region. Miao is the term for Hmong in China, and has been used for identification and clarification of origins, although Hmong is the preferred term.
Please see p. 60-61 in
Peoples of the Golden Triangle and
The Art of Silver Jewellery
for excellent photo reference sources.
New jewelry from Indonesia
New large Balinese subang style ear plugs,
now press-fit for modern dancers, with thin wires and black inlay. $45.
New small Balinese subang style ear plugs,
now press-fit for modern dancers, with thin wires and gold tone with red inlay. $30.
New medium Balinese subang style ear plugs,
now press-fit for modern dancers, with thin wires and clear inlay.
These were found in Java but are from Bali. $40.
Javanese dancers' ornaments worn around and above the ears - the effect is like deer ears.
Technically, these are the form for male dancers! $45/set of two.
This image shows a pair plus one additional piece to show the side view.
A single Dayak ear weight with
an interesting version of the aso design.
Note this is one piece only. $40.
Rare jewelry from Indonesia
South Maluku Islands super rare earrings. $100/pair and $125/pair.
The left hand pair measure around 15ga and the right hand pair vary between 13ga and 9ga on each piece.
These islands in Eastern Indonesia are also known as the Moluccas.
Jewelry from New Guinea
BIG New Guinea shell septum. $75.
Seven New Guinea bone septums.
Sets of three new New Guinea shell septums. $100/set of three on a metal stand.
If you buy all three shown in one of the photos, they will come on a stand.
Otherwise, they are $45/each if sold individually.
One set has SOLD.
Papua New Guinea shell septum pieces from Wogomush (river and tribe).
One of the cowrie shells slides off to act as a sort of 'primitive' o-ring!
The background image shows the man who actually made these pieces!!!
$40-$45/each. The top left and bottom-most pieces have SOLD.
Although they make excellent display and educational pieces unto themselves,
these pieces range from just under 2ga to a bit over 00ga for actual insertion.
Please click on this image to view on at full size.
Solomon Islands giant shell septum
((Although not technically from SouthEast Asia, this piece fits best on this page!))
Solomon Islands intricate shell nelo septum piece.
All shell beads held on by natural fiber string. $275. SOLD
Views of both sides are shown. Wow!!!
Remind me to include a photocopy from an old book I have showing men wearing their nelo.
Old Thai double spiral earrings
Antique (ancient?) double spiral cross-over earrings from Thailand.
Around a 3ga would be required to insert these awesome artifacts. $150/pair.
Omega style shapes
These are in the 19ga to 16ga range, and are only $10/each. Same price for retail customers!!!
Of course one would need to have a larger sized piercing for insertion due to the curls at the bottoms (around 12ga to 8ga depending on the piece).
These are the first examples of this style of jewelry that we have seen-pretty neat!
For an example of these types of earrings, see pages 232-233 in
A World of Earrings.
12ga traditional Golden Triangle (SouthEast Asia) flower shaped earrings.
$65/pair. The hook is worn behind the ear hanging down as shown.
Hmong tribe bent arrows
Most bent arrows measure around 6ga at the widest point (generally on the bottoms).
Tribal women tend to wear these on the wrapped wire section where it snuggles up against the arrow.
Please see p. 232 in
A World of Earrings, p. 60 in
Peoples of the Golden Triangle,
and p. 205 in
Ethnic Jewellery for excellent reference sources.
A non-scholarly reference calls these puj ju in Hmong language (Hmoob).
Two pairs of old Hmong tribe bent arrow earrings.
$60/pair (a bit different from each other-SOLD), and $80/pair.
Both require between 7ga and 6ga for insertion.
A pair of very nice old Hmong tribe bent arrows from Laos.
I rarely see any of this quality anymore. $125/pair.
They require between a 4ga and 3ga for insertion.
A nice big pair of old Hmong tribe bent arrow earrings
(pairs this big are really rare to find now). $175/pair.
They would require just under 2ga for insertion.
Karen tribe cups
Tiny Karen tribe cup ear plugs - the smallest ever of this style! $60/pair.
The wearing surfaces are between 3ga and 2ga, and the back flares are ≥0ga.
Several different types of Thai hilltribe jewelry are shown on this page.
Karen tribe big hollow cup shapes with big flares. $80/pair.
This pair measures just under 11/16" on the wearing surface, and the back flares are between 7/8" and 15/16". This type of difference is more typical of tribal jewelry as it is intended more to be worn for very long time periods without removal, and the large flare size ensures it will stay in better. Oftentimes thread or yarn can be wrapped around the wearing surface to build it up and have it be a little less of a drastic difference between the wearing surface size and the flare size required for insertion.
The women of the Karen hilltribe (from North Thailand and the surrounding region)
traditionally wear these plugs. These have nice, unusually large almost Mayan style, front flares.
The Karen are renowned for their excellent craftsmanship in silver jewelry.
For more examples of Karen 'cup' shaped plugs, please see:
p. 236-237 in
A World of Earrings and p. 205 in
Various old tribal silver pieces
The top left pair are short lengthed plugs similar to ones we had before from the Black Tai tribe.
They require around 2ga for insertion but have 8ga to 7ga wearing surfaces. They are $20/pair.
The top right question mark/hook style pieces have conical/triangular fronts and have SOLD.
The second row shows a pair of really nice earrings with triangular sides. Though the top wire is around a 5ga, the triangular parts are around 5/8" at the big parts, but flat in cross section;
thus, you might have to be around 00ga on average to get them in. They are $60/pair.
The bottom row is a pair of equally as bizarre earrings. They are $85/pair.
The half balls would go in front of the ear, and the triangular parts would dangle behind.
Taking the average of the measurements of that triangle would mean a minimum size of 7/16" is required for insertion. The bottom dip of the "U" shape is around a 4ga and the size of the wire at the wearing surface behind the half balls is 9-8ga.
All of these pairs are the same price for retail customers!!!
Hilltribe earrings collected in Vietnam
Some are silver, some are made from base metal (such as tin, zinc, or aluminum), and
all have some sype of variation between the left and right-hand pieces (which add character, of course!).
While these were all collected in Vietnam, they may have originated in other regions of South East Asia.
This pair have a neat wandering design are around 12ga and $40/pair,
as shown on p. 79 of
The Art of Silver Jewellery,
where a pair in this shape is described as being Miao from Hainan Island.
Highly ornate wire work! $100/pair. Around 12ga.
Though found in Vietnam, these are in the same style
as pairs we have had from South China.
Chinese hilltribe jewelry
A good variety of exciting South Chinese hoops and plugs...
Gejia or Miao tribe giant bent arrow earrings from South China.
$175/pair, including a black painted metal stand. These require a minimum of 0ga.
Please click on the two thumbnails with the wood backgrounds to show larger versions.
A quite similar pair is shown on p. 91 in
The Art of Silver Jewellery
and attributed there to the Yao in Yunnan province.
Please note that these are quite heavy
(approximately 3.685 to 3.79ounces/each aka 104.4 to 107.5grams/each!),
and although they are not being sold as earweights per se, they are amongst the heaviest items we carry.
These must be used with extreme caution; consider using a suspension thread, yarn, or ribbon over the entire ear or to a headdress or the hair to support some of this weight. This is a traditional technique used in many cultures with heavy earrings; some even have the earrings entirely suspended and not worn through piercings at all, instead having them hang next to the ears as ear jewelry that doesn't happen to actually pass through the ear!
Gejia Miao tribe from South China huge bent arrows.
$150/pair (compare with other pair on a stand above for $175/pair).
Huge Chinese Dong hilltribe knobby wrapped spiral silver earrings. $200/pair. SOLD
These are still posted both as size reference and also because we may be able to get similar ones again.
An image of a hilltribe woman wearing this type of earrings appears on the back of a yuan note
(paper Chinese currency; we heard they recently stopped printing this design).
Refer to p. 200 of
Ethnic Jewellery, and p.189 in
A World of Earrings
to see pairs of various sizes like the ones we have on offer here.
A couple of notes on Dong tribe knobby style earrings...
Silver content can vary dramatically from almost pure silver to none at all, with a typical alloy being made of a combo of copper, zinc, and nickel (sometimes called alpaca, 'German silver,' 'nickel silver,' etc.). Obviously the silver content and weight (and the current price of silver) can affect the price accordingly. Something to keep in mind is that it is also common to cover lower silver content or white metal alloy pieces with a high or even fine silver content plating. This of course affects the appearance, testability, and price as it is easy to pass off as the actual silver content of the entire piece.
Reproductions of this style are being made in China and here, by the tribe themselves and by outsiders. As with much ethnic jewelry these days, some knobbies are made very well and are meant to be 'fakes' (passed off as old), and others are simply made with varying degrees of skill for intra-tribal use, or made for sale to outsiders without any attempt to label them as antiques, as this is still a living design being made and worn by the Dong themselves. Therefore authenticity and age are also factors affecting price and availability.
This information applies to most other South Chinese and Golden Triangle tribal jewelry as well!
Hopefully this will help to illuminate why prices can vary so much within just one style of earrings.
Large South Chinese tribal knobby earrings.
Newly made out of white metal (no silver). Only $45-50/pair.
Depending on the pair, these require around a 4ga or so for insertion.
For an image of a Dong woman wearing this style of earrings, please see
p. 31 of
The Art of Silver Jewellery; p. 75 also has other images of them.
Four different styles of Miao tribe knobby earrings.
Newly made out of white metal (no silver). Only $40/pair.
We also have a pair like the top left style with much thinner wires: between 12ga and 11ga for insertion.
The top right style require anywhere from 7ga to just under 5ga for insertion depending on the pair.
The bottom left style are between 8ga and 7ga.
The bottom right style need around a 2ga to insert them since the spirals are so big!
Miao tribal base metal dragon earrings and Dong style knobbies with round balls. $40/pair.
The pair of round dragons shown on the left are ±8ga.
We have a few pairs of the knobbies with round balls shown on the right, requiring anywhere from 10ga, to 9ga (not shown),
to between 7ga and 6ga for insertion (as shown - on hold).
Two pairs of Miao Hmong South China tribe base metal hoops
with lots of coiled wire. $40/pair. The top pair has SOLD.
The bottom pair is around 9ga on the wearing surface.
Page 75 in
The Art of Silver Jewellery shows a similar pair to the bottom pair.
South Chinese Miao tribe newly made dragon earrings.
Around 12ga to 11ga. $50/pair.
Old South Chinese Dong or Miao tribe earrings.
These require between a 7ga and 6ga for insertion. $80/pair.
South Chinese Miao tribe newly made round hoop earrings.
These pairs are around 8ga at the tops. $50/pair.
Nice quality Miao tribe big double dragon hoop earrings.
$130/pair. They are between 10ga and 9ga.
Miao tribe China base metal flowered hoops.
They are flat on the backs. >8ga. $50/pair. SOLD
There is a photo of a Dong woman wearing this style on p. 23 of
The Art of Silver Jewellery;
p. 92 shows more and describes the flowers as chrysanthemums.
Older Dong tribe oddly angled hoops with metal keepers. The measure ≤6ga and are $80/pair.
We now a few more pairs of these, newly made in base metals below.
Page 181 in
A World of Earrings, pp. 76 and 80 in
The Art of Silver Jewellery (described therein as Miao), and p. 204 in
Ethnic Jewellery shows pairs with closely-related forms.
Two styles of newly made white metal (no silver) crooked Chinese tribal earrings. Only $30/pair.
They vary from around <4ga for the style on the left to >3ga for the style on the right.
Miao (Hmong) tribe earrings with coiled bottoms
that add some weight, and thin gauge ear wires. $75/pair.
The wires are around 16ga, and they weigh 14.3grams (.505ounces)/each.
Short heavy Miao (Hmong) tribe spiral earrings. $75/pair.
The wire thickness at the top measures around 12ga.
They weigh around 49grams (1.73 ounces)/each.
Long heavy South Chinese tribal spiral earrings.
Likely Miao (Hmong) tribe. $75/pair.
The wire thickness at the top measures around 10ga.
They weigh around 56.6 grams (2.0 ounces)/each.
Uighar/Uyghur intricate earrings from Xinjiang/Singkiang region of Northwest China. $150/pair.
These vary between 12ga to 10ga wire thicknesses between the pieces.
This was the first time we were able to offer any earrings from this region for sale;
I had only very rarely seen earrings of this type (this was the third pair ever).
For similar pairs, please refer to p. 168-169 in
A World of Earrings.
The earrings below have been attributed at times to Afghanistan, Sinkiang (China), and Yunnan (China).
Whatever the truth may be (and perhaps they are worn and traded in all of these places, as the borders of each of these geopolitical regions meet, and cultural boundaries often are not so clearly demarcated),
they are an amazing rare style of filigree earrings that I feel quite lucky to be able to offer. Enjoy!
These old earrings are $55/pair for the top left pair (the top right pair has SOLD),
$60/pair for the bottom left, and $75/pair for the bottom right.
All have some subtle parts of the filigree missing due to age and wear.
They vary from between 16ga to just over 14ga in their wire thicknesses.
The huge 'Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region' in the NW of China shares borders, amongst many others, with Pakistan and a small part of Afghanistan to its Southwest, and is largely populated by Muslim Uighars. This region is also refered to as 'Eastern Turkestan' or 'Uyghurstan.'
These heavy silver plugs are good examples of the style worn by Dong tribeswomen. The back flares are big, but necessarily so to counteract the weight of the large front flares. These measure just a smidge over 3/4" on average on the wearing surface, with the back flares being over 1-1/8". $70/pair.
Pairs like these are shown on p. 192 in
A World of Earrings, p. 74 in
The Art of Silver Jewellery
(where they are described as being Miao), and on p. 200 in
Two pairs <1" older Dong tribe (China) big double flared earplugs with 'spool' style flares. $100/pair.
As with most Dong plugs, they have seams where the metal comes together on the wearing surfaces.
Please refer to p. 193 in
A World of Earrings and
pages 15 (in ear) and 79 in
The Art of Silver Jewellery to view similar pairs.
New double-sided <13/16" (20mm) South Chinese tribal plugs with two 'spool' style flares.
Note indented (but smooth) seam on the wearing surface at the solder joint. $60/pair.
Old Burmese amber plugs
The following amber pieces are from Burma and NE India,
though the amber is Burmese (Burmite).
Old Burmese amber plugs, collected from Assam.
Between 1/2" and 9/16" ($80/pair). SOLD
Ancient Burmese glass plugs
Ancient Burmese faceted glass ear plugs.
All are singles chosen for their great coloration.
The faces are all faceted, as are the wearing surfaces.
The large one is glass imitating a double flared amber plug.
I may sell them all as one collection, and I may keep some.
$40 (most) to $70/each. They are singles only; we do not have pairs.
The fifth piece over (light green) has SOLD.
Please note that these are intended for collecting purposes,
as they have not been tested, and we do not know the contents of the glass.
Naga tribe glass earweights
Naga weights like these are hard to find! Glass ones are more affordable, though they also traditionally make them in quartz crystal. These Ao Naga tribe glass tongpang earweights from Northeast India/Western Burma are not perfect, but they are very well priced based on condition and how matched the pair is. There is some unrepaired damage. Some of the chipping appears newer, and some looks older, with smoothed out edges.
Rare Burmese tribe beaded horn ear plugs (probably Naga men's). These photos are not to scale.
These beaded horn ear plugs retain the shape of the actual horn tips ($75/pair).
The horns have white, green, and yellow glass bead inlays with central red seed beads.
They measure 15/16" and 7/8" at the widest, and are 4-1/8" and 4-1/2" in overall length.
These were collected 30 years ago in Nagaland in Burma by a television crew member filming a festival.
All of the images I have seen are of men wearing these with the tips forward.
I have never seen any with inlaid beads being worn.
Ancient Cambodian jewelry
Ancient Cambodian encrusted upside-down U shaped ear weights
(probably Angkor circa 900 CE gold over bronze). Merely $65/pair.
Please ask about discounts if you are interested in more than one pair.
All have large areas of greenish patina which probably render them unwearable as is,
though as with all jewelry with heavy patinas, wrapping them with cotton thread might do the trick.
Front and back views of each piece is shown. Please refer to them in order by pair: #B thru #F.
Two pairs of old Khmer gilded bronze earrings, which have been encrusted together over time.
Harkening from the 12th through 14th centuries CE, from the Battambang region of Cambodia.
They obviously can't be opened or worn any more (this style used to open with a hinge at the top),
but are great for collecting, display, or educational purposes. $125.
We've seen some ancient earrings like this before, but never with a double set such as these.
New tribal-made silver spiral earrings
The following pairs of silver jewelry are all newly made by Thai hill tribes using traditional methods.
This type of reproduction work helps to employ tribal villagers in their traditional line of work,
as well as having the added affect of reinforcing the idea that their indigenous crafts, and the skilled people and culture that produces them, is appreciated by people all over the world.
These are also featured on our new silver and bronze jewelry page.
Many different Thai silver spiral shaped earrings with thin-gauged wires are available.
These are usually 17ga or thinner; most tend to hover around 18ga.
Prices listed below are per PAIR, and will vary by weight (and current price) of silver.
Rounded question mark shaped spirals
($15/pair small or $36/pair big).
Three pairs of tiny silver Thai earrings with flat spirals. $10/pair.
The bottom flat spiral parts may be just a bit bigger due to having more coils.
The middle pair is vermeil and have SOLD; the right hand pair have also SOLD.
Thai silver flat spirals $12/pair (a bit bigger than ones we carry above for $10),
and tiny Lao-style arrows for $20/pair (a traditional design that have very thin wires soldered on top).
Lao new question mark shaped hooks with hex faceted fronts ($40/pair-SOLD).
These require a minimum of around 9ga for insertion.
These are similar to the smaller shapes found on p. 205 of
Ethnic Jewellery and
p. 79 of
The Art of Silver Jewellery, which describes this style as being from the Yi tribe.