Avid collectors will have a field day at any of the four branches of Nature Art Gallery, a treasure trove of jewellery and precious stones with two outlets on Samui, and two more over in Haad Rin on Koh Pha-Ngan. The owners, Michael Trav and Shai Nissim, have worked for many years in the jewellery business, and have an eye for what makes a great design. Their stores are full of them. They’ve forged contacts with suppliers of precious and semi-precious stones, and with craftspeople who turn out stylish and often unique jewellery. The galleries showcase handmade pieces from select artists from not just Thailand and South-east Asia, but far further afield.
Much of the work that you’ll see on display has a tropical feel about it; these pieces seem made for long, hot summer days and nights. But exotic as they are, they’re versatile and will look just as good in wintry climes. The carefully crafted designs may be simple or complicated, but each represents the knowledge of a master jeweller. There is flow to them too; many depict animals or designs from nature that are all to do with movement. For example, you’ll see the snaky tail of a lizard, a wavelike pattern or a unicorn that looks set to spring into the air. All of these designs have been chosen as they are bright, creative and surprising.
Step into the flagship store in Chaweng, just opposite the southern exit of Central Festival, and you’ll see all kinds of designs and motifs that are inspiring. The other stores are slightly smaller (one is on the upper floor of Central Festival itself) but all follow the same theme of creativity and flair. This ranges across all manner of jewellery from earrings and necklaces to pendants and bracelets. There’s a broad spectrum of prices too; you can spend just a couple of hundred baht and bring home something that you’ll always treasure, or you can invest in something for a really special occasion. Whether you are in the mood for saving or splurging, most of the wares here are not at all on the expensive side; none of the Nature Art stores are the kind of place where you look at the prices and then automatically gulp. And if there’s something that you’d like made up, this can be done with extraordinary ease: above the main showroom, there are specialist craftspeople and jewellers who will be able to make up your order from a drawing, photograph or description. Again, this service isn’t at all pricey. Generally items take one or two days to complete, longer if they’re complicated. You can also, incidentally, have repairs made if your own jewellery from back home has suddenly developed problems.
Nature Art Gallery is also a place to head to if you’re looking for semiprecious stones. Each store has dozens of small trays that are filled with small polished pebbles or rocks. You’re encouraged to browse, but not simply by looking. For although the stones may first attract by their bright colours, each has a different feel. So browsing means picking them up
and trying to perceive their different qualities. You might be surprised at just how unusual the stones feel; each type seems to radiate a different energy. “Don’t worry about trying to make a choice between stones,” says Michael. “It’s not you who chooses the stone; it’s the stone that chooses you. If you keep a stone close by you, it will affect you in some way.” Hold a stone that you like and after a while you may well begin to feel your mood alter. All this may seem arcane and new-agey, but once you actually hold the stones you may be quite surprised. Some people like to carry one or other stones around in their pocket, although many of Michael and Shai’s clients have them made into jewellery. Incidentally, there are also charts available at the stores that describe the properties of each kind of stone to assist in your selection.
Apart from stones and jewellery, you’ll find plenty of accessories, too, such as belts and bags and purses. Designs range through traditional to the hypermodern – take your pick.
At Nature Art Gallery, a unifying theme, if there can be said to be one, isn’t the fine design, as there’s such a variety, but the fact that everything here is durable. Made to last for years, rather than here-today-fallen-apart-tomorrow. This underpins all the excellent artistry that you’ll find in the stores.
And as implied by the name of the stores, everything that you’ll find at Nature Art Gallery is, yes, natural. The materials used go beyond stones and minerals to include just about everything that occurs out-doors. You’ll find leather, shells, coconuts, various woods and even more unexpected items such as elephant hair. Everything that can be found in nature and plays a part does so; the results can be astonishingly creative at times.
There are quite a few good reasons for visiting Nature Art Gallery. Whether you’re building up your own jewellery or rock collection or hunting for a souvenir of your time on Samui, these beautiful stores are sure to mesmerize you with what’s inside them. With their clean lines and easy-on-the-eye displays and helpful assistants, it’s always a delight to come and browse for artefacts of all kinds. You’ll never know what kind of treasure you’ll come across once you step inside.
For further information, telephone 0 7742 2594.