Peruvian Silver Jewelry is Among the World’s Finest Artisan Jewelry

Why does Peruvian silver jewelry rank among some of the finest artisan jewelry in the world? One reason is that the silver in Peruvian jewelry is high in quality. It is always sterling silver, which is defined as containing a minimum of 92.5% pure silver. But Peruvian silversmiths move one step beyond this 92.5% minimum standard, using 95% pure silver in their handcrafted jewelry. Too soft to hold up on its own, silver jewelry is always strengthened with other, harder metals, such as nickel or copper, thus the small percentage that is not silver.

Unlike the jewelry that is ubiquitously available in local malls and department stores, handcrafted silver jewelry from Peru is fashioned by artisans whose families have been creating it for generation upon generation. Their traditions stretch back into the mists of time — in some cases back even to the ancient, aristocratic Moche and Inca Civilizations. Over the centuries, these age-old techniques have been lovingly passed from parent to child.

However, Peruvian silver jewelry is not always confined by tradition. Many Peruvian artisans are so talented they’re able to combine tradition with modern, bold and dynamic designs. The result is innovative jewelry often more vibrant than that found elsewhere.

Their deep appreciation for exotic, native materials is another reason Peruvian artisanss are able to create some of the world’s finest silver jewelry. For example, the striking, red jungle seeds called “huayruro” are the centerpiece of some of today’s most captivating Peruvian silver jewelry. In conjunction with their handsome, hand-crafted settings, these densely-red, dried seeds — either singly or in clusters — make bracelets, necklaces and earrings of electrifying beauty.

Another exotic native material often used in Peruvian silver jewelry is the spondylus shell, highly prized for generations — all the way back, in fact, to the ancient Moche Civilization of the 1st to 8th centuries AD. In the past, Moche kings, queens and other royalty were buried with large quantities of these highly-prized shells. And archaeologists have uncovered, not from one, but from several ancient pre-Columbian civilizations in Peru, enormous quantities of beads made of spondylus shell. Today, set in rich, hand-crafted sterling-silver settings, this time-honored material makes for some exquisitely enchanting and captivating organic jewelry.

From deep in central Peru, in the valley of Huancayo, comes another exotic Peruvian material. For at least 4000 years, Huancayo fathers have handed down to their sons a special technique of carving on dried Peruvian gourd. Today this ancient technique is still being practiced in the Huancayo valley, and placed into modern sterling-silver settings, these one-of-a-kind miniature works of art provide stunning jewelry that will turn heads wherever it’s worn.

Completely apart from the aesthetic reasons for finding Peru’s artisan jewelry attractive, this handcrafted jewelry is becoming a hot fashion item to the modern American woman because of her desire to spend her money wisely. Peruvian silver jewelry is produced by artisans struggling for economic independence in a third-world country undergoing rapid change. So purchasing their wares gives socially conscious buyers a chance to help these hard-working Peruvians become economically self sufficient: an example of the sought out win-win situation that is most appealing to savvy women shoppers. This is a bargain and luxury purchase at the same time with buyers walking away with some of the highest-quality, most time-honored, and most exotic silver jewelry being made in the world today.

Touring The Barossa Valley

If you’re planning a trip to the Barossa Valley and looking for information, then you’ve come to the right place. Located northeast of Adelaide in South Australia, the valley is a world famous wine producing region. It was first inhabited by European settlers in the early 1800s. They constructed churches and towns modeled on their own hometowns and the area still has a noticeably European feel and look.

Nowadays, the Barossa Valley is a major tourism hub offering fantastic wine and food experiences as well as a range of tourist attractions and activities. For those planning to visit the valley, here’s a list of things to see and do:

Go wine touring: With more than 150 wineries and 70 cellar doors, there’s definitely a lot to see and sip for wine enthusiasts in the Barossa Valley. Many of the local cellar doors are open for the public, whereas others are happy to welcome visitors on appointment. What makes the valley a unique wine producing region is the diversity of its growing conditions. Whilst the Eden Valley is famous for cool-climate wine styles, the area’s flagship Shiraz is produced in the low-lying, warmer Barossa Valley.

Nature parks and walking trails: Nature lovers visiting the Barossa Valley will find plenty to see and do. There are some magnificent secluded parks nestled amidst undulating hills, which most people can easily fail to notice. These pockets of bushland offer a superb range of natural experiences. Visitors can follow one of the numerous picturesque bush-walking trails, enjoy birdwatching and see native wildlife in their natural habitat.

Delectable food experiences: With its abundant fresh produce, award winning restaurants and artisan food producers, the Barossa Valley is truly a foodie’s paradise. You can have lunch at one of the local wineries that combine delicious cuisine with world class wine. Those who want to sample the region’s fresh seasonal produce should pay a visit to the Barossa Farmers Market that is permanently situated in Vintners Sheds. Here you can purchase your weekly stock of vegetable, fruit and much more in a stress-free environment.

Go for a hot air balloon flight: You can take a hot air balloon ride over the wonderful Barossa Valley, known as one of Australia’s premier ballooning destinations. Early morning rides are available 365 days a year and are scheduled weather permitting. The package includes a 60-minute balloon ride, commemorative flight certificate plus a mouthwatering buffet breakfast with sparkling wine. Ballooning in the Barossa Valley is sure to be the experience of a lifetime.

This is just a small sample of things to do and see in the Barossa Valley. It’s no surprise that the region is popular among tourists of all ages and interests.

Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt

The Valley of the Kings is situated in Luxor (Thebes) on the West Bank of the Nile. The people believed that as the sun rose in the East this is where life began and where it set in the West where life ended so all tombs where always on the West Bank of the Nile.

The tombs are about 2 miles in from the edge of the valley and prior to the road being built was a remote area chosen by the Kings of the 18th through 20th Dynasties for their burial ground.

Over sixty tombs have been discovered in the Valley and there are possibly more still to be found. The Kings of the New Kingdom wanted to separate their tombs from their mortuary temples to avoid theft, and burrowed through solid rock to ensure privacy.

The design of the tombs are very much the same, different only in the length and number of chambers in each. There are for the most part 3 corridors, one after the other leading to the inner chambers and finally the tomb chamber. In some of the tombs usually high in the wall of the second or third corridors were recesses for storing furniture and other personal possessions of the dead King.

The third corridor leads to an ante-chamber, then the main hall and the tomb chamber. In several of the tomb chambers the roof is supported by pillars and small chambers lead off from the chamber. The crypt with the sarcophagus was usually placed in the center or to the rear of the tomb chamber. Most of the sarcophagi were made of red sandstone.

In some tombs there is a shaft sometimes as much a 6 meters deep. It is not sure what the shafts were for. Some believe they were for drainage of rain water, although rain is rare in Egypt. Others believe they were meant as deterrents to grave robbers. This is supported by the fact that there is very little decoration on the upper walls of the shaft while beyond the shaft the walls were fully decorated.

The Kings believed strongly in the after life and prepared their tombs so they could continue life in the same way they had lived on earth. To this end they took all their worldly possessions to the tomb with them, including the necessities of life like food and drink. Their bodies were mummified to prevent decay and religious ceremonies were performed to ensure a smooth transition into the after life.

During the Middle Kingdom religious formulas were recorded both inside and outside of the sarcophagus. Later the texts were expanded and papyrus scrolls were placed inside the coffin. Over the years the texts became uniform and were recorded and known today as the Book of the Dead.

The corridors and chambers represent the stages in the journey to the underworld, which were divided into 12 hours or caverns. The King supposedly sailed through the corridors and chambers at night in the boat of the Sun God – this is shown in representations on the walls of the corridors often showing the ram-headed Sun God and his entourage standing in boat bringing light to the King as he traverses through the corridors and massive gates, each guarded by huge serpents. These representations are known as the Book of the Gates.

Representations on the walls of the forward corridors were generally devoted to the Praises of Ra (the Sun God) showing hymns and pictures of the ceremonies to be performed before the statue of the King to give it eternal life. At the end of the representations the dead King would face the judgment seat of Osiris, King of the Underworld.

The myth goes that Osiris was the creator of law and agriculture and ruled on earth with his wife and sister Isis at his side. He was known as a just and loved ruler who was slain by his jealous brother Set. The myth goes that Set tricked his brother into entering a chest which he then sealed and threw into the river Nile which carried it down to the sea.

His broken-hearted wife Isis searched far and wide assisted by the Goddess Nephthys until she found the body entangled in a tamarisk bush in the Delta marshes. She hid the body, but Set found it and cut it into fourteen pieces, scattering them in many directions. Isis collected all the pieces and a monument was placed at each spot. She asked the jackal-god Anubis, the god of embalment, to prepare the body for the after life. According to the myth as she was mourning, during the preparation of the body, she received the seed of Osiris and bore a son named Horus.

When Horus was strong enough he killed Set to avenge his fathers death. He then set about finding Osiris and raising him from the dead. Osiris once risen could not rule on earth and became King of the underworld where he ruled with Isis at his side with the same justice he had ruled with on earth. His son Horus took over the throne of his father on earth. And so the myth goes.

On the walls of the tomb chambers or rear corridors are dramatic representations of the dangers the King needed to be protected against: enemies drawing his breath, water turning into flame as he drank; enemies stealing his throne, his organs and his very name, which would deprive him of his identity forever.

The representations in the tombs gives us insight into the hopes, expectations and fears of the King. Once crowned the King would order construction of his tomb. Artists would outline sketches on the walls. Artisans would prepare the 403 Shawabti (statues of his laborers and servants to serve him in the after life) these were placed in large wooden boxes alongside funerary furniture. Secrecy was vital and only the local workers from Deir El Medina working on the tombs and the King and the high priests knew the actual site.

Despite the remote site, the secrecy and complex systems used to deter theft the tombs were robbed probably soon after they were sealed, and probably by the workers who built them and knew how to enter them. The treasures were not the only reason for violating the tombs. The enemies of the King would enter the tomb to destroy the mummy to prevent it from continuing its rule in the after life. In an effort to safeguard royal mummies priests would sometimes move them to new locations to hide them, often failing to take the necessary precautions to keep them intact and safe.

Of all the tombs discovered to date only that of King Tutankhamun has been found intact and even then there are indications it was opened and resealed. This tomb shows the lavish splendor and craftsmanship of the 18th Dynasty. He was the youngest King and it leaves to the imagination what treasures would have been found in the tombs of the long reigning Kings.