Ben-Zion David

The art of Yemenite silver and goldsmith has run in the family’s veins for eight generations and Ben-Zion David (Benzi) has this skill in his genes. At the age of ten he began helping his father in his workshop preparing and interweaving the silver threads.

In Yemen , a person who wanted a piece of jewelry would give five silver coins to the silversmith. Three coins were melted for the jewel itself and the two other coins were the jeweler’s fee. After two days of preparing the silver into threads and small silver domes, the jewelry was crafted in another day. “I am still using ancient methods to make jewelry, maybe more advanced than my grandfather’s, but not very modern,” says Ben Zion. “Till this day, all the tools I work with have Yemenite names. Each small jewelry piece, each individual thread has a name.”

Ben Zion does all the designing himself. His more commercial designs combine modern fashion trends and Yemenite traditional craftsmanship. Some pieces Ben Zion makes “for the soul.” For his collectors’ Judaica, he prepares the threads by hand, interweaving them to achieve a special and unique braided effect.

Ben Zion did not always design jewelry. After his army service he studied electrical engineering in theUnited States for five years. Returning to Israel , he was supposed to begin work as an electrical engineer an electronic firm. While waiting for the company’s security clearance, which took seven months, he began to create his Judaica designs and sold them to collectors in the United States in order to support himself. By the time the security clearance came through, he was already immersed in his art.

Ben-Zion pieces are on display at museums and galleries both in Israel and the US , along with pictures and explanations, and he has won the “Accent Magazine” design competition for two consecutive years.

It seems that Yemenite jewelry has not only an interesting past, but also an exciting future.

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