The desire and need for personal adornment has driven how humans express themselves culturally and individually from the beginning of recorded history. Garments and jewelry serve as social symbols of wealth, marital status, employment, residence, conformity, and creativity. To this day, many cultures use jewelry as a personal stash of insurance for the time of need, such as the dowry received by women when they marry.
Africa Adorned was published in 1984, the year I graduated from college. A dear friend gave me the book for my birthday and it was my first exposure to a comprehensive look into African jewelry, sparking an interest in me for tribal jewelry from around the world which has lasted to this day. Since then, Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith have written several other books about African cultures and their photos are recognized worldwide. Their work, along with many others who have documented traditional ways of life around the world, have often been the last testament to what is quickly disappearing: the individuality of cultures. As the world unites through technology, it becomes more similar and sadly, often quite boring.
We often think of jewelry as something precious in terms of money or longevity, but adornment happens with the most basic of choices: Do colors and patterns clash or meld? Is it functional? Permanent or will it wash away? The Omo Valley in Ethiopia is home to some of the most ancient artifacts excavated. Several threatened tribes live there and they have come to international attention for the beauty of their adornment. Using what they find in nature, they decorate their bodies with clay and create elaborate and striking plant and feather arrangements on their heads. If you have never seen videos about them before, do click and view on this one for a delightful introduction to the Omo People!
Learn more about them through Survival International.
As a contrast, our featured image at the top of this post shows off Givenchy‘s face jewelry from a recent fashion show in Paris. While everyday fashion for most of us can be pretty mundane, like jeans and a t-shirt for me, the drive for expression in both the big fashion houses and for the indie designer thrives. Humans have a deep need to push the boundaries of the common, exploiting them to see how far a material can go and this is what drives us to improve or exploit technology and natural resources.
We have creative forces working here on Artizan Made! Our garments, accessories and jewelry speak to the imagination and what you do with them will be your own signature and take on style. Our member profiles are tagged with key focus words where you can explore what they have, but here is an introduction to those who have a sizable jewelry focus.
Chuck Domitrovich’s bread and butter comes from his hand crafted wedding rings, but he also makes earrings and pendants. He has collaborated with fimo clay artist Cynthia Toops for masterpieces like the pendant below. Down to the Wire Designs on Etsy.
Irith Mashiah has a deep interest in archaeology and many of her designs are inspired by old coins and artifacts. Her jewelry often shows the handmade process through hammering and organic shapes. She works out of her studio in a kibbutz in Israel, enjoying a thriving community of artists. Riorita Designs on Etsy.
Lilygirl Original Wearable Art is the work of A. Denise Rollings-Martin who brings gemstones, pearls and metal into the feminine mystique. Metal shaped into curves, calling to nature and to fertility. Visit Lilygirl on Etsy.
Hagar Arnon Elbaz started out rolling fabric from upcycled neckties in the early days of Gilgulim. Now she uses any fabrics that catch her eye. She often mixes gemstones and beads into the mix. Fabric and fiber jewelry have special appeal to those who suffer from allergies to metal. They are also light and fun to wear in hot climates. Gilgulim on Etsy.
Lina Sofia Valenzuela also has a passion for rolled fabrics, incorporating her beads into necklaces and other accessories. Her trademark looks more like a snail shape. Pri Fabrics and Beads on Etsy.
Eileen Doughty has perfected an interesting technique using thread embroidery. Using a sewing machine, she starts out with a solvable backing and sews and sews until layers are formed. When washed, all that is left are the threads! Eileen is selling through our Artizan Market. Visit Doughty Designs.
Debra Dorgan of AllThingsPretty gets wild with her beaded cuffs and earrings! Debra is a queen of magpies and all that sparkles and has lace is fair game. Show stoppers! AllThingsPretty on Etsy.
We have three shops with a serious focus on tribal jewelry. All of them are vintage. Afghan Tribal Arts has been importing from Central Asia since the 1980’s, and both Hot Moon Collection and Steel Goat Studio have Native American and Mexican jewelry. Click on the images to visit their shops:
Many more of our shops have jewelry, too, but this will get you started!
Explore more in our Market!
Quickview Bracelets, Upcycled, White, Paper, Sewn, USA
Quickview All Products, To Wear, Jewelry, Necklaces, Niche, Textiles, Elements, Lace, Modern, Cotton, Fiber, Sewn, Provenance, Americas, USASilver and gold metallic threads, stitched on my domestic sewing machine, create a world map using an authentic cartographic projection.$55.00 Shop: Doughty Designs
Quickview All Products, To Wear, Jewelry, Necklaces, Niche, Elements, Beach-Resort-Water, Birds, Blue, Lace, Nature, Cotton, Fiber, Method, Sewn, Provenance, Americas, USAA flock of three pelicans glide on a silver chain necklace. The pelicans are "drawn" by machine-stitching a variety of cotton threads.$105.00 Shop: Doughty Designs
Quickview All Products, To Wear, Jewelry, Earrings, Niche, Fair Trade, Folk Art, Tribal Art, Elements, Boho, Green, Materials, Gemstone, Silver, Method, Hammered, Provenance, Asia, TajikistanThese striking sterling silver dangle earrings, with a small bright green chrysoprase cabachon, are hand crafted by Tajik master jeweler, Abdurakhmon Nazirmatov. Clicking on the "Visit Shop" button will take you to the HoonArts Fair Trade shop where you can purchase this item and see what other one-of-a-kind and small artist's edition treasures are currently in stock.$99.99 Shop: HoonArts Fair Trade
Quickview All Products, To Wear, Jewelry, Cuff, Tribal Art, Vintage, Elements, Red, Materials, Gemstone, Silver, Method, Carved, Hammered, Provenance, Asia, AfghanistanVintage Turkman Silver Tribal Cuff, Carnelian Afghan Tribal Arts has been importing from Afghanistan and the region since the 1980's. The focus is on vintage textiles and tribal jewelry as well as new gemstone beads made for jewelry designers. Clicking on the Shop on Etsy button will take you to our shop there where you can see what is currently in stock.$152.00 Shop: Afghan Tribal Arts
Quickview Bracelets, Textiles, Nature, Fiber, Mixed Media, Sewn, USASmall stitched-thread maple leaves are complemented by shell beads in this nature-inspired bracelet.$60.00 Shop: Doughty Designs