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Learn more about Berber Pendants

With their contemporary geometric forms and beautiful symmetry, it's little wonder that Berber Pendants now feature so prominently in modern fashion. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that, despite their modern aesthetics, these iconic pendants have been around since the nomadic Berber people discovered silversmithery over 1,000 years ago. The Berber are a predominantly nomadic people of North Africa, thought to originate from the Nile Valley. Today, they are one of the most widespread, yet mysterious indigenous groups, with large concentrations of the population now residing in Algeria, Egypt and Morocco. Renowned for their artisanal accomplishments, notably silver-work, woven textiles and sculpture, the Berbers have had a strong influence upon many African subcultures, and are largely credited with the introduction of metalworking to the continent. Traditionally, Berber pendants were made from locally mined silver, and were worn as a means of protection from malicious spirits. They are also a form of expressionism – many designs featuring complex formations of geometric petroglyphs derived from the Berber language. One of the most common designs you'll see are the three V's and enlarged cross – both of which represent the guiding hands of the Berber gods. Vintage Fancy Berber Pendants began to be produced at the turn of the 20th Century, and often include references to both the Islamic and Jewish faiths (many examples of which we carry here at The Bead Chest). These tend to be far more detailed and colorful than those produced 50 years ago owing to the widespread use of chemical dyes for enamel work.