Current global reporting on Afghanistan is dominated by conflict and crisis, underrepresenting the cultural diversity and richness of the country, especially in relation to its century-old craftmanship. The history of the goldsmith tradition reaches back thousands of years and up until today jewellery is handmade by artisans with tremendous skills using a variety of traditional techniques such as sand casting, lost wax, stamping, engraving and enamel inlays as well as the careful twisting and anodizing of wire. Because these techniques are very demanding, they require a thorough training and a special talent among goldsmiths. Due to these high standards, their work is well respected in Afghan society.
For the production of the FOLKDAYS presents SEVAR Studios jewellery, Hila and Wana Limar work together with a goldsmith*, who runs a small workshop in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Within Afghan craftmanship, a distinction is made between a hakak (gemstone cutter) and a goldsmith. A hakak transforms the gemstones into high-quality jewellery. Before a gemstone is embedded into silver or gold jewellery, further steps such as cutting, setting and faceting need to be conducted – activities which require a great deal of skillset and practical experience. The goldsmith employs a hakak as well as more goldsmiths in his workshop.
Based on sketches provided by Hila and Wana Limar, the goldsmith and his team manufacture the earrings of the FOLKDAYS presents SEVAR Studios collection. To make them, they carefully handcraft high-quality 925 silver and intense dark blue lapis lazuli. First, the raw material is shaped with steel scissors or a saw and further contoured by filing. Then wire pieces are precisely cut, bent and soldered to the silver pieces. The hakak also works on the stone, which is cut into shape, smoothed and polished. Afterwards, the stones and silver ornaments are connected by silver threads. In the next step, the finished silver jewellery is polished and stamped with the alloy quality (925). As a final step, the earrings are plated with recycled gold.
Update from SEVAR Studios on the occasion of the launch of the 2nd collection in December 2021:
After the fall of Kabul on 15.08.2021 and the Taliban taking power, the goldsmith's life paused for a few weeks and so did his work. As a goldsmith, he had successfully cooperated with international brands such as SEVAR Studios, among others, and now found himself confronted with the uncertainty of whether such cooperation would be punished in the future. Because of this, he decided to close his workshop and waited. In the time that followed, however, the economic situation in Afghanistan significantly worsened: unemployment increased and with it the cost of food and living. Due to these circumstances, the goldsmith was forced to resume his work in the workshop after three weeks. Since the production for SEVAR Studios was not yet finished, he decided to complete it despite the uncertain situation. Normally, the multitude of steps required for the elaborate craft is divided among several people. However, in order not to endanger his employees, the goldsmith made all the outstanding jewellery himself – which led to a delay in the production processes. While other foreign customers paused or even cancelled their orders as a result, and at the same time the Afghan population lacked the financial means to afford new jewellery in the economic and humanitarian crisis, the cooperation with SEVAR Studios secured the goldsmith's and his employees' livelihood.
*We only provide a general name of the partner here to make sure that we do not put anyone at risk.