HANDMADE JEWELRY DESIGNERS AND HANDBAG CREATORS
While handmade jewelry designers and handbag creators may differ in the way they conceptualize their designs, they each have an extraordinary relationship with the materials they use. Explore beloved jewelry lines, their inspiration and materials that structure them into existence.
JEWELRY DIPPED IN GOLD
Handmade jewelry designer Simone Brewster has been widely celebrated for her architecturally influenced unique home decor and jewelry. Her pieces are highly futuristic with sharp lines and stacked shapes. “Not all the jewelry I make would be considered commercial,” says Brewster. “The majority of my work I believe to be art jewelry. Many are statement pieces that take on a big scale or use unusual material combinations.”
When the designer was interested in making a commercial collection, “I wanted to use materials that spoke of the values that I believe to be important. I wanted the pieces to speak of durability and quality as well as be the bold, beautiful, dramatic language that is specific to my style. I choose to use gold and silver as a way of translating those values into the work.”
This handmade jewelry designer’s gold plated jewelry collections are made using traditional hand-crafting techniques mixed with new technology, making them great for present day wear. “I feel it makes the pieces timeless and classic and easy to wear daily,” Brewster says.
HANDMADE HANDBAG CREATORS
Akosua Afryie-Kumi is the founder of internationally-acclaimed handbag line, AAKS, known for sustainability-minded accessories that are handmade, colorful, high-quality, and fun. Afryie-Kumi grew up in Ghana among a family of entrepreneurs. Her creativity was sparked at an early age as she deeply explored a vast palette of vibrant patterns and raffia as a material to make basket bags. To this day, Afryie-Kumi is inspired by the traditional design techniques of basket weaving. She structures her line of handmade handbags using organic, natural and biodegradable materials.
The stunning handbag line of ONEOFEACH is created by mother and daughter team Tamburai and Pauline Chirume. The Chirume design duo combine the coveted African wax print cotton textile with soft, oxhide leather to create a specific bag shape with multi-uses: a clutch bag that doubles as a crossbody bag. The South African-based brand loves working with bold colors for a quick way to elevate a special outfit.
“Everything comes from materials that different African tribes would use to make their ornaments and trinkets,” says handmade jewelry designer Adele Dejak. “In creating jewellery, we are keen to use environment-friendly materials, celebrate cultures, teach technical skills and create employment opportunities.”
SUSTAINABLE JEWELRY FROM BRASS & COW HORN
Handmade jewelry designer Adele Dejak celebrates her West African heritage by incorporating both traditional and modern materials in her work. Growing up in Nigeria, she adored watching her mother and grandmother dress in magnificent fabrics and traditional jewelry. After earning her law degree, she went back to school to follow her passion and studied typographic design at the London College of Communication.
Then, in 2005, Dejak moved to Kenya where she began making her own jewelry primarily from brass. “Everything comes from materials that different African tribes would use to make their ornaments and trinkets,” says the designer, who uses upcycled brass and cow horn as the centerpiece in most of her work. “In creating jewellery, we are keen to use environment-friendly materials, celebrate cultures, teach technical skills and create employment opportunities.”
Her jewelry designs have the power to be the beautiful finish that elevates any look to be bold, luxurious, and unique.
BEADED HANDMADE JEWELRY
In Maasai, an East African region on the border of Kenya and Tanzania, women use jewelry as a method of self expression. The mighty Maasai women are globally known for their stunning, handcrafted beaded jewelry. Even the colors of the beads hold a specific symbolic meaning. For example, red represents bravery, unity, and blood while white symbolizes peace, purity, and health. Historically, the small glass beads sourced from the Czech Republic were first brought to Africa via Arab traders in the 19th century.
Handmade jewelry designers including Sidai Designs, a Tanzania-based jewelry and home decor company that creates geometric patterns using beads and 14k gold chains, partners almost exclusively with Maasai women to keep the remarkable tradition of beaded jewelry making alive. Sidai, which means beautiful in the Maasai language of Maa, serves as a creative oasis for women to find empowerment in crafting these uniquely-designed pieces. These handmade jewelry designers create geometric patterns using beads and 14k gold chains.
Contemporary African jewelry designs strick beautiful harmony between tradition and modernity, with an emphasis on the use of the materials chosen by the designers to share their story. These pieces are meaningful and lovely gifts to give on a special occasion. Read more about gifts for women on The Summit.