Artisan Stories: Jewellery Makers, India

Jewellery Makers, India

Flowering Desert is a fair trade project in a remote area of Tamil Nadu. Around half of the 28 employees live on-site in the Mahalir Aran Trust refuge for vulnerable women and children. The other ladies come from the surrounding rural villages.

Tamil Nadu, meaning 'Land of the Tamils', lies at the southernmost tip of the Indian penninsula. It is known for its rich tradition of literature, art, music and dance, and has one of the highest literacy rates in India. Tamil Nadu is mostly dependent on monsoon rains for water and is prone to droughts when the monsoons fail.


This warm metal is an alloy of copper and zinc. It has been prized by craftspeople for centuries for its golden colour and workability. Brass is ideal for jewellery because it's lightweight and free from irritants including nickel, lead and cadmium. The shine can be quickly restored with a dab of Brasso and a soft polishing cloth.

How is it made?

The jewellery workshop evolved from an existing fair trade project working with textiles. However, frequent power cuts hindered productivity so they moved into jewellery which could be made with hand-tools when the electric sewing machines were out. The necklace pendants and earrings are cut from brass sheets using tiny saws, filed smooth, hammered for texture and finally polished, all by hand.

How your purchase improves lives

The jewellery project is connected to the Mahalir Aran Trust safe house, which provides protection for abused and abandoned women who have nowhere else to turn. The on-site jewellery workshop helps recovering women achieve financial independence in a supportive and sensitive environment. They also receive counselling, healthcare, advice on money management and schooling for their children.

"I feel proud to be in charge of quality control and earn my own money working in a safe place. In my spare time I am learning to read and write. I never had that chance before" Madhammal

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Image credits: Just Trade, Mahalir Aran Trust,