The Monsoon Accessorize Trust supports Turquoise Mountain to train over 150 artisans in the art and craft of jewellery making in Myanmar. Here they deliver highly skilled workshops that equip the artisans with the knowledge and skillset to learn a craft and secure a livelihood for the future.
Turquoise Mountain set up an apprentice programme in early 2017 to inspire a younger generation, provide opportunities and ensure the continuation of this art form in the future. It not only covers daily mentoring from the local master goldsmith, workshop staff and international team, but also provides training from international technical jewellery expert Jinks McGrath, who has been involved in Turquoise Mountain from the beginning.
This project began in August 2019, with a visit from Jinks McGrath in October. During her visit, an ‘open workshop’ was set up for goldsmiths from outside Turquoise Mountain. This helped deliver extra training to those outside the programme and to further promote the craft itself – it also led to some great conversations about changes in local design trends and different techniques in jewellery making.
Thiri Khaing Kyaw’s Story
Thiri applied to the Turquoise Mountain apprenticeship to follow her childhood dream of opening a small jewellery shop. She is a Yangon native and before joining the Turquoise Mountain apprenticeship programme, she helped her family run their restaurant. In her spare time, she joined classes on button making and fabric painting.
After learning basic skills from our resident master goldsmiths, Thiri had an opportunity to spend two weeks with Jinks McGrath and learn from her. They were able to practice techniques such as chain making, imprinting texture, hinge making and stone setting. When asked about her experience during the six-month programme, Thiri said “I came to the programme with no prior knowledge or experience in goldsmithing. Everything I learned here is valuable to me. Local master goldsmiths taught me a lot too. Each goldsmith has his own way of making products and it is fascinating to observe their different ideas and thinking processes. I gained a lot of new skills from Jinks as well. She shared her international experiences. Her teaching was a bit more systematic; she was specific about scales and that was very helpful for me. Overall, I really like the programme and I have learned a lot from it.”