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Family in a Laos
Flower Hmong woman wearing traditional earrings. Bac Ha Market, Vietnam.

Family in a Laos
Young Akha woman wearing traditional
headdress and earrings.
Muang Long, Laos.


Above the Fray: Traditional Hilltribe Art offers a modest and limited selection of traditional jewelry. The designs are striking and unique, and the soft patinas are from authentic local use.

Traditionally, pure silver jewelry (gold is very rare) is handed down in the family as heirloom value, often transferred to the next generation at the time of marriage. Above the Fray chooses not to deal in antique or heirloom items believing that such items need to remain with the culture. Also, due to the high cost of new 100% silver jewelry, the jewelry we offer on this website is solely of lower or zero percent silver.

However, quality jewelry of lower or zero silver content is commonly worn by hilltribe women, and the authenticity of the design and the quality of workmanship is not necessarily compromised by its lower metal value. Indeed, few woman wish to wear their heirloom valuables outside of ceremonial or formal settings, but they do like to wear traditional jewelry on everyday trips to the market or when visiting friends.

Most of the jewelry we offer comes from the Hmong or Yao people of northern Vietnam and Laos (who are sub-divided into many different tribal groups). These people have a tradition of wearing elaborate necklaces and pendants, large “dangly” earrings, ornate headdresses and hair-combs, engraved arm and ankle bracelets, and bright ornaments for tunics, bodices and bibs. Their jewelry is often imprinted with traditional motifs or decorated with glass beads. Bright primary color enamel paint will sometimes add even more brilliance.

Many of the pieces are stunning on western women; some more elaborate pieces – especially the bulky pendant and coin bedecked necklaces - may be better suited for framing and display.

All of the jewelry represented at Above The Fray is authentic and has been previously worn by hilltribe women.

We have organized our collection into three categories:

All our earrings have been made by craftspeople in the tradition style of their tribal group, and have an authentic patina from actual use.
Our traditional, and often elaborate, Yao and Hmong necklaces, each with an authentic patina, stand out as personal adornment or as a framed display.
Bracelets, hair combs, hair pins and other jewlery may be made from metal, wood, bone or horn.
Some of the textile pieces under Tribal Clothing also have jewelry decorations.

Family in a Laos
Black Hmong woman with multiple large hoop earrings and hair comb.
Family in a Laos
Lanten woman with baby on her back wearing a traditional headdress made from silver or aluminum and human or horsehair.
Family in a Laos
Blue Hmong woman wearing two hoop necklaces – one aluminum and one tarnished silver.
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