Samui Wining & Dining
Stones That Rock

Shopping for asteroids, jewelry and more at Nature Art Gallery.

36White hot, the asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere. And it was big enough not to get burned up, falling to ground in Eastern Europe. Naturally, everybody wanted a piece of the rock. Who wouldn’t? It was from outer space. “And people still want it,” says Micha, who owns Nature Art Gallery, a store dedicated to unique jewelry and accessories. “The only trouble is that there is no more of it to be had; there was only the one asteroid.”

But if you’re on holiday why would you bother about collecting a bit of wayward planetary matter? You’re here for the sun, surely, not for tiny fragments of dead stars.

As if in response to this thought, Micha opens the glass cabinet and picks out a piece of the rock, known as Moldavite. “Just hold it,” he says. “Tell me what you feel. People react differently to it.” And now he waits.

At first it seems like just a rock in the palm of your hand. Then you notice it has energies all of its own. Something warm about it perhaps? Or something tingly? Hard to say. When you’ve finished with it and put it down again, you may still feel its energies. Micha explains, “Even people who have no sensitivity to stones say they can feel some kind of power emanating from it.”

Micha and his business partner, Shai, believe minerals all have different energies and can be used for healing or to promote wellbeing. A large table at Nature Art Gallery holds many different kinds of rocks. They’ve mostly been polished to the smoothness and size of river pebbles. Just start picking the stones up. You’ll probably begin to feel different energies. The experience can be a little strange – after all, nobody expects minerals to have any effect on humans. The motto of the store is ‘Let the stone choose you’. Although there's a small brochure of what the stones mean and what they can do for you, the owners prefer you to be guided by your own intuition.

This may all sound like goofy new-age make-believe but many people swear by the powers of rocks. All you can do is see for yourself if this collection of stones is more than it would appear to be. The entire store is a kind of experiment where you’re welcome to try out the goods on sale. It’s fun and oddly thought-provoking – not like most stores. Micha and Shai both aim to please their customers by offering a range of goods at a variety of different prices. But perhaps what’s most welcome is the fact that much of what you see in the store is original. This alone sets it apart from most of the goods on offer along Chaweng Beach Road. The location, by the way, is easy to find as Nature Art Gallery is right by Tops Supermarket.

The stones are also mounted as jewelry and there’s a huge range to choose from: pendants, ear-rings, rings, bracelets and necklaces. Designs range from the very simple to the ornate but, in addition, most of the stock has been made by master craftspeople. These are not anonymous artisans but are well-known to the owners. And in some cases they actually work above the store.

Take Hari Shankar, for example. He works with both gold and silver exclusively for Nature Art Gallery. Originally from Nepal, he’s now based on Samui. He comes from a large family who are expert jewelry makers and have worked for generations for the King of Nepal. “Making jewelry runs in our family,” says Hari. “None of us went to school to learn how to do it. It’s a traditional skill that’s handed down. I learned from my father, and he from his father. As a child, I watched both of them making things and started copying what they were doing, then experimenting myself.” You can see examples of Hari’s craft throughout the store. He produces, for example, belts with magnificent buckles inlaid with stones – you won’t have seen anything like these before. And since Hari works on site he’s available to take your orders and produce something unique, just for you. In fact, given just 24 hours most of the artists can make jewelry to order or produce a design that’s strikingly original.

Artist Lou Guerin, meanwhile, makes jewelry of a completely different kind. He specializes in several techniques. He learned braiding whilst in Mexico and uses a native-Indian style. He has also learned ancient Arab designs. You’ll find his jewelry rather more evocative than most: a goatskin braided bracelet features a tiny silver frog, which also acts as a clasp. The detail is fine enough to see the eyes of the frog and also the gem which appears to grow out of his back. Lou has also woven two thin braids of horsehair together; one a delicate gold colour, the other grey, and has superimposed them on a silver bracelet. The effect is striking. Most people wouldn’t even think of putting hair and metal together and presenting it as a serious piece of jewelry but Lou makes it look natural – and attractive, too. Elsewhere, you’ll find black rubber used as a delicate bracelet which is melded with stainless steel to provide two very contrasting materials. The result is an almost edgy, hyper-modern look.

Leather features in the store, too. There are numerous wallets, purses, belts and also some unusual bags. Pascal – he seems to have no last name – has produced a black leather bag with bead tassels and a centre panel of brightly-woven cloth. It has plenty of swirling cotton embroidery which is combined with tiny inlaid mirrors. It teases the eye with its hippy elements but the unusual rhomboid shape of the bag and the sheer blackness of the material make it unique.

Many different styles are featured at Nature Art Gallery. The common denominator of all of them is the deep creativity that has gone into their making. These are not pieces that have been knocked together quickly, nor are they run-of-the-mill. When you come away from the store you’ll probably feel quite invigorated – after all, you’ve been somewhere that’s both different and exciting.


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