Meet Joko, a hardworking silversmith who was born 28 years ago in Gunung Kidul, just south of Yogyakarta. In Javanese, his name means “a young man”, and I feel like his name fitted him to a tee. With an aura of youthful curiosity, he channels his thirst for learning through our master goldsmith, Apri. Pestering him for more knowledge, more experience, and more chances to ply his craft.
I chatted with Joko during a sleepy afternoon in Yogyakarta on one of my visits. I used the opportunity to talk to the smiths, as I don’t often get the chance to really connect with them. Before becoming a silversmith, Joko worked jobs in catering and as a courier, keeping close to home so he could help his sick parents. Recognizing his hard working attitude, Apri offered him an apprenticeship as silversmith a few years earlier, but he declined at the time. Choosing instead to take care of his blind father
“Unfortunately both my parents have passed away now. It was tough at first, but I’m getting better. And having a new family at work has really helped. We have friendly fights all the time. We’re like brothers here.”
Joko came into Apri’s workshop without any knowledge of smithing, and found Apri to be a patient mentor. “I can tell if a person has the willingness to learn and grow in this workshop,” Apri shared with me, “and I can see that Joko has those qualities. I welcomed him to the family even though I knew extra time was needed to teach him.”
There’s a deep feeling of kinship in Apri’s workshop that makes it feel like a true extension of our Bali studio. In fact, these guys surprised us earlier this year by showing up at our front door in Bali. “We’re on a road trip!” was their joyous explanation in the afternoon that they came to the studio, smiles and laughter ringing in the air. They drove all the way from the heart of Java, took a ferry, and arrived here in Bali.
When I asked him if he liked working with Gardens of the Sun, Apri who was nearby swooped in with a joking, “Joko, don’t say anything bad!” The laughter from his mentor seemed to help put Joko more at ease. “Honestly, I’m really happy working here. I earn a good living and the work is interesting and fun.” He then explained about the inclusivity in Apri’s workshop, “I was born with a bone condition that prevented my body from developing normally. It can be difficult at work sometimes, but I’m glad that I’m here with people who support and encourage me, looking beyond my disabilities.”
Joko meticulously making sure that your rings come in the right sizes.
Apri’s comedic interjections continued during our chat. At one point he suggested that Joko would be a rice farmer if he didn’t go into silversmithing. “Not a rice farmer!” Joko denied with a chuckle. “I might still be working at that catering if I didn’t have this job. It was convenient, but I’m glad that I changed my profession. I love working as a silversmith. I get to learn and experience so many new things, which is an aspect of the job that I enjoy. There’s still a long way to go before I master the craftsmanship behind jewelry making. Eventually I also want to learn how to work with gold!”
After spending a short 10 minutes in the hot seat, I asked him one last important question, “Is there anything you want to say to the people who wear the rings that you made?”
He hesitated for a moment before giving me one last smile, “I hope you love the rings I made for you… that’s all.”
Are you as in love as we are with the Hidden Gems collection?
Did you know you can get Hidden Gems pieces as necklaces, earrings, and rings?