Here we are in November, with only 2 months to go before we welcome 2018. These next two months we want to delve a little deeper into jewellery. There is definitely more than meets the eye. Other than jewellery’s aesthetic beauty, we want to really understand the mechanics of jewellery making, what one needs to consider when jumping into that field and the different materials used.
If we were to start right at the very beginning – jewellery is essentially decorative items worn for personal adornment and can be independent or attached to clothes such as bracelets, necklaces, earrings, pendants, rings…etc…you know this. Jewellery pieces are basically pretty things we wear to make ourselves happy and add to our outfit. The oldest recorded jewellery was identified by scientists – Nassarius shell beads between 90,000 and 100,000 years old (see image below). Read more about the 7 oldest pieces of jewellery found here. We have come a loooong way from that necklace. Whether it was 100,000 years ago or now, jewellery plays an important role either being functional, a marker of social status like the wedding ring or sign of royalty, signifier of some affiliation, religious, ethnic or social group, talisman for protection, artistic or using by using a particular stone carrying a personal meaning like the Rose Quartz (a crystal of unconditional love).
So what is jewellery all about anyway? And how does jewellery differ from continent to continent, country to country. Is there significance to jewellery and the way it is made? We know that we have specific techniques when it comes to making bags. For example, the weaving techniques used in making an AAKS weaved bag where traditional cultural bags have been taken to a higher luxurious level. This was Akosua’s way of introducing the world to her favourite weaving techniques done by the women in Ghana whilst creating sustainable job opportunities.
So can we find similar inspiration and borrowed techniques in the modern contemporary jewellery pieces we find in Kenya and on the continent? All these questions led to this Jewel Series. We have previously looked at designers we love like Adele Déjak who creates every accessory to transcend temporary fashion trends by creating pieces that can be passed from generation to generation being “unique, beautifully handcrafted pieces made from a blend of both traditional and modern materials.” Read about the brand here. Adele Déjak’s pieces are a beautiful meeting of traditional and modern design to create this affordable luxury brand taking Africa to the world.
So not only will we be looking into the historical evolution of jewellery making in Africa and how our ancestors rocked their pieces but also looking into the significance of particular materials and how those have influences us today. For example, in Egypt, they used precious and semi-precious stones where the colours of the stones were associated with magical symbolism and would provide the wearer protection against evil or provide good luck. Egyptian jewellery was made using stones like turquoise, carnelian, chalcedony, amethyst and lapis lazuli. With regard to colours, the Egyptians used yellow and gold to symbolize the sun and were always used in crowns and ornaments for the Pharaoh and his priests. We are all familiar with the famous King Tutankhamen coffin and more particularly his Death Mask which was made of gold (symbolising immense wealth) and blue lapis lazuli used to imitate the kohl make-up he would have worn in real life. It further contains inlays of coloured glass and gemstones, including quartz (the eyes), obsidian (the pupils), carnelian, feldspar, turquoise, amazonite, faience and other stones (as inlays of the broad collar). Even Egyptians in the 18th Dynasty took their jewellery seriously.
Of course, nowadays, the choice of materials and means of production, just like apparel, must take into account the conservation of our natural resources and protection of wildlife. We will look into brands that are incorporating these values into their jewellery either in symbolism or as part of their supply chain and production commitment. We took a look into Patrick Mavros in a previous Series who used a collection to highlight the pangolin and the need to protect this endangered species. They also tap into different avenues to help change consumer perceptions about wildlife; something as simple as giving the story of each animal on the website to educate the consumer a little more. Read more about Patrick Mavros here.
We will be looking into the conservation and environmental considerations in jewellery as well as what the future holds. You know how as TDS we love to look into the inspirational stories and technological advances in fashion and, of course, that includes jewellery. Technology has impacted and changed every facet of our lives and how we make these adornments is not an exception. We had previously looked into wearable technology. Jewellery of course has changed its look because technically a smart watch of necklace that give you your health statistics is still jewellery. Read all about it here: Wearable Tech x Fashion Luxury.
I can’t help but share this little bit of exciting innovation about a company called WiseWear that has created smart jewellery: fashion fused with threads of technology. Basically this handy beautifully designed bracelet is a also a “panic button.” The founder, Jerry, a Vanderbilt-trained biomedical engineer, was motivated to create this bracelet as a result of his grandfather, Domic Cameratta, passing away in 2011 as a result of falling in his home and being unable to call anyone. This bracelet is a safety device that can predict, prevent and alert loved ones in times of potential danger. Let’s dismiss the fact that is costs on average between $325 and $345, it’s functionality and beauty can potentially make it worth it when one’s life is at stake. Watch the video below to see how it works.
Having said all that, we will of course bring you our fashion designer features looking into the brands in Kenya and on the continent doing amazing things in the jewellery-designing world and of course where you can get your hands on these beautiful brands. It’s going to be an exciting 2 months and we at TDS want to wish you nothing but an awesome end to 2017.
Let’s do this!
Author: Wanjiku N. M | Editor and Founder of TDS | Twitter: @WanjikuNM