GOLD and diamonds are missing, but gemstones, metal pieces and glass beads are enough to keep a group of American Indian women happy and busy. They earn their living making jewellery without having to leave their homes, a bonus for the family-oriented native Indian community in Colarado. Their employers, American couple Ben and Joan Eagle, work pretty much the same way. Their home is just one floor above their jewellery company and design studio. Only about 30 staff work in their office, while 100 others are hired to create the profitable jewellery at their homes, using materials and sketches provided to them. In the 70s, the couple began to make costume jewellery as a pastime. They slowly realised the huge benefits that they could bring to the tiny ranching community in Walsenburg and turned their hobby into a cottage industry. Sold under the label ''Chipita'' (Joan's maiden surname), the couple's fashionable goods have a big following in Paris and New York. Their work is now on exhibition at the Pottery Workshop in Central. Russians also have a taste for things rural American; the boldly designed, eye-catching pieces were featured in Moscow during the first American fashion show in the capital. Russia is one of the places where the couple go to find precious and semi-precious stones. Hong Kong-based jewellery dealer Candy Solabarrieta has developed close ties with the accessory-producing firm, and is a frequent visitor to the Eagles' home. ''They are very nice,'' she said, ''very family oriented. Despite his success, Ben does not want to leave the area because, he said, he could enable women to both make money and take care of their children at home. ''Joan is the chief designer.'' Ms Solabarrieta became acquainted with the couple when they visited Hong Kong in 1989 in search of craftsmen with superb stone-cutting skills. The friendship blossomed. ''We went to jewellery shows together. I sometimes advise Ben on whether certain stones are useful, because not all can be turned into beautiful accessories,'' she said. The trio also work closely in finding gemstones and ensuring they are later properly cut. ''They send me sketches at times,'' said Ms Solabarrieta, who helps trace quality stones in China. ''They are eager to explore new ideas. We share the same interest in stones, and jewellery design,'' she said. A common feature of Chipita accessories, whether necklaces, earrings or brooches, is use of glass beads, something increasingly popular with the fashion-conscious in Europe. The unusual materials used, together with the intricate skills involved, give the products an expensive price tag. Earrings cost a minimum of HK$680, reaching a maximum of $2,280. Brooches can cost as much as $1,680. The necklaces sell for between $1,980 and $4,580. The sizeable collection at the Pottery Workshop is available for sale before the show ends this Friday. Solabarrieta isn't sure if the exhibition will herald the launch of Chipita products in local boutiques. ''Some of the products are like collectors' items. They don't mix well with contemporary designs,'' she admitted. But undoubtedly there are pieces which are both fun to look at and wear. The Pottery Workshop's Minerva Lau said: ''We chose to stage this particular exhibition because it is about the success of a team which produces with traditional methods, not through assembly lines, and yet makes profits. ''Hong Kong has few venues for a display of handicrafts.''