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While The Bead Chest is primarily an African bead importer, we also offer finished African Jewelry to those looking for ready-to-wear pieces. African Jewelry is a melting pot of contemporary and traditional styles, many of which have been replicated extensively in popular Western fashion culture. But, African Jewelry serves for a number of other functions besides self expression and bodily adornment, particularly amongst ethnic groups (such as the Krobo of Ghana) where social hierarchy is still an endemic part of their culture. Large bulbous Glass Trade Beads worn in multiple strands around the neck can be indicative of wealth, status and purity; used in rites of prayer and marriage, or have some medicinal value, such as an aid for female fertility. The oldest beads found in Africa in 2004 were a strand of 75,000 year old ostrich shell Heishi Beads, which are particularly favoured by the Ashanti tribe of Ghana whom believe they can significantly enhance fertility. Almost every indigenous group in Africa uses jewelry as a means of communication in one way or another. Known for their exuberant beaded collars and head dresses, the Yoruba women of West Africa utilise tiny glass Christmas Beads for waist adornments, with the primary intention of luring the attention of a potential mate to her form. In Ghanaian culture, the glass beads used are recycled from other materials and tend to be far larger and uniform in shape. They are used to attract attention to the female form, and are also believed to aid gastro-intestinal health. African Pendants are undoubtedly one of the most imitated forms of jewelry in the West. Focal pendants, such as those produced by the predominantly Muslim Tuareg people of the Western Sahara, have been adopted by many other cultures where Islam is the primary religion – namely due to the ancient Islamic texts and references inscribed upon them. Of course, such pendants are also popular due to their contemporary aesthetics. Moroccan Pendants collectively encompass a wide range of focal styles and timeless symmetric designs that many find appealing. Old Berber Pendants are often inset with semi-precious stones such as amber, amazonite and quartz, making them all the more desirable.