Yemenite Future and Yemenite Past: Inside the Ben Zion David Yemenite Silver Art Gallery in Jaffa

Most of the Jewish Yemenite population immigrated to Israel during Operation Magic Carpet in 1949. Ben Zion David’s family was one of the thousands that joined the movement and began a new life for themselves in Israel.

 

 

In Yemen, the Jewish people were always known for their unique jewelry styles and design techniques. Each piece of jewelry is actually made with five basic wires, and the uniqueness of each piece is based on the customer's request and the artist's creativity.

 

“I started making jewelry at age 10,” said Ben Zion, the founder and artist of Ben Zion David Yemenite Silver Art Gallery. “I’m not an 8th generation silversmith. It’s become a dying art, but I’m trying to keep it alive.” Ben Zion’s father and grandfather only made traditional pieces, whereas Ben Zion is more creative in his designs. He alone has over 2,000 designs that he makes.

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Ben Zion makes all of his own designs, and he has a handful of people who help him in his studio. “We ship our jewelry all around the world,” Ben Zion said. “People visit here from everywhere, because visitors are fascinated with old cities. Jaffa is filled with ancient streets and artistic people, which is why we wanted to be here.”

 

 

Every piece that he designs has a style number and a stamp, Ben Zion explained. “We’ve used the same types of designs for over 30 years. You see, this isn’t about fashion -- it’s about tradition. This is jewelry that came from early Jewish tradition and can now be passed down to future generations to come.”

 

Contributed by Lena Elkins