First of all, thank you for shopping at my site! I appreciate
your business and will do everything possible to make your shopping experience
here a pleasant one.
Much of the jewelry represented in my store is hand-crafted
in Nepal (about 70%). The rest is from India and Bali. I carefully choose each supplier based
on product quality, value, customer service and the practice of ethical business practices (ie no child labor). The stones are genuine and semi-precious and most are from
Nepal or India. The settings are sterling silver. The "925" stamp on
the bottom of each piece is assurance that the metal is 92.5% silver. This is
an industry standard.
The main source of the beautiful jewelry I sell on my site is
significant to me. From 1991-1993 I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal and
grew to love the country. Nepal is a wonderful and full of gorgeous hills,
mountains and rivers, and beautiful people. I lived in a "mud house"
for two years with a panoramic view of the Himalayan Mountains out my back
window. I could even see Mount Everest on clear days, 60 miles to the north!
Although in many ways, particularly aesthetically, Nepal
lives up to its "Shangri-La" reputation, life there is very difficult
for its people. The annual family income is only about $300 per year, there
are few accessible hospitals and most of the people are subsistence farmers.
One of the most significant problems facing the country is poor water quality.
When I was there only about 20% of the population had access to a clean,
reliable water supply and this contributes greatly to disease and
malnourishment. My assignment as a Peace Corps Volunteer was to assist rural
communities in building reliable, clean drinking water systems. During my tour
I helped establish water projects that provided thousands of Nepalese with
clean water, and the people I trained are continuing this work today. It was a
very rewarding feeling, but I still feel as though I gained more through the
experience than I contributed.
So how does one go from water engineering to importing
silver jewelry? Starting an import business was the last thing on my mind. But
I had some influential friends who convinced me that doing so would be fun and
help maintain my connections to Nepal. They were right! When I finished my
stay in Nepal I departed with a bunch of products ranging from jewelry to
Gorkha Knives to carpets. I even brought back about 500 wooden ties (most of
which I still have)! The jewelry and particularly the rings were the biggest
hit. The quality was excellent and I was able to offer them at very affordable
prices. The one thing that really makes the rings special is the beauty of the
gems. I haven't seen anything that compares.
My partner in this business is Prithbi Shrestha. He lives in
Nepal and operates a successful trekking company: Nepal Panorama Trek. If you are considering
visiting Nepal check in with him for info. He offers excellent tours. Prithbi
has three children and a
beautiful wife, Chie. He takes care of all the business in Nepal and is very
reliable and a good friend!
All the jewelry from nepal is made in a type of "cottage
industry." There are 15-20 families in Kathmandu and in the surrounding
hills who craft the rings in their homes. This is a means for them to generate
extra revenue for their family at their own convenience.
In addition to buying some great stuff on this site, your
purchase will also help people in Nepal. I also donate time (running the group's website) and a little money to Friends of Nepal (FON). And once in a while we will run a
promotion on silvergemshop.com that will directly benefit FON. FON is a group of former Peace Corps
Volunteers that gives small community development grants to local
organizations in Nepal. FON is currently supporting the following projects
which are underway:
School Construction: An entire village
in Dolpa District is building a school for their children. The focus of the
school is teaching and thus preserving the ancient Bonn Culture. The village
is in far western Nepal, 10 days walk from the closest road and very close to
the Tibetan border. The Bonn Culture is a cousin of Tibetan Buddhism and
actually precedes the Tibetan Religion. This project is being coordinated in part by Friends of Dolpa, a non-profit organization to which Friends of Nepal has recently funded to support this work.
Women's Health: We funded a local group to
train health workers to screen women in remote villages for breast and
cervical cancer. The project has been very successful and may be replicated in
other parts of the region.
Goat Raising: We provided a small grant to
group to purchase and breed goats as a means of income production.
If you would like to find out more about Friends of Nepal, or
make a donation (without buying jewelry!) please contact me.
About me... I live in Rhode Island with my wife and 3 sons. I hope you enjoyed your visit!