2013; the year of bold geometric prints, zingy colors, and the third annual Spring/ Summer Fashion Week in New York dedicated to all things African. Given the sheer wealth of beautiful tribal jewelry modeled at this year's eagerly anticipated event, it seemed only fitting to dedicate a post to some of Africa's hottest jewelry trends – many of which incorporate trade beads and recycled glass beads from Kenya and the Krobo. Prepare to bead inspired!
Glass, Leather and Bone
Leather – or cow hide - and bone are two natural elements which have long been used by African tribes to create personal adornments and amulets. The contrast between tanned cow hide and batik bone beads is stunning in its own right, but when you add glass trade beads (like these small, dark Krobo 'tiger eye' beads), the look becomes all the more bohemian. The example here shows bone beads made from polymer clay, but it's a great example of the effect that can be achieved.
Twisted Trade Bead Collars
Trade Beads, such as Mali Wedding Beads and Venetian Chevrons, have long served as vessels of energy, protection and spiritual connection. Used in Krobo initiation rites, coming of age ceremonies, and even to mark the engagement of brides, the wearing of these beads communicates the personal stories and journeys of women in Africa. African designer Nasimiyu Wekesa weaves the history and significance of old trade beads into her thick twisted bead collars. The base is created by twisting multiple strands of seed beads, interspersed with an eclectic variety of African trade beads. A cascade of individual beaded strands hang down on the right hand side – each tipped with a different colored Mali Wedding Bead.Crocheted Rope and Recycled Glass Beads
Beads strung on raffia may look pretty, but if you want a more focal look, why not combine crocheted rope into your jewelry designs? Founded by former Cape Town pastry chef Katherine-Mary Pichulik, the Pichulik brand has garnered global attention for its extravagant crocheted rope necklaces. Weaving the extravagance of African tribal collars and large recycled glass beads, Pichulik's serpentine necklaces exemplify the beauty of traditional African rope and bead-making techniques.