Jewelry comprises of decorative items that are adorned on various parts of the body or clothes for a myriad of reasons such as beauty, religious or cultural purposes as well as a status symbol. It consists of items such as rings, bracelets, anklets, necklaces, and hairpins.
Jewelry is made from a wide array of material such as gemstones, precious metal, shells, beads, corals, animal skins and bones, ivory, glass and carved stone. There are diverse patterns of wearing jewelry in Africa, and it varies say by virtue of sex, culture, age, marital status, wealth and tribal affiliations. The best contemporary African jewelry refers to jewelry that still has a place in today’s dynamic world. It is jewelry that people can identify with in the present day and time.
Best Contemporary African Jewelry
- Cowrie bracelets
- Handmade African coin earrings
- Beaded corsets.
- Elephant hair beaded bracelet
- Fulani gold earrings
- African chunky choker
- Bib collar web necklace
- Maasai fabric earrings
- Beaded belts
- Brass bracelets
In recent times, manufacture of jewelry in Africa has become an art, as well a lucrative trade and a mode of expressing one’s personality. Most jewelry is handmade, carefully crafted with a lot of attention being paid to detail.
These form part of African traditional jewelries since they have been with us since time immemorial. They are very popular across the continent. This is because they can be crafted easily and can easily blend in with the kind of apparel that a person is adorning. They are also readily available in bulk.
Beads, when sewn according to the wearer’s choice, can be adorned as rings, belts, necklaces, and earrings as they form the major component of the item. Beads often occur in multi colors, therefore, one can never run out of preferences.
Cowries are very ancient in Africa. They are usually found in the sea. They are prized for their durability and are quite a sight to behold as they come in various sizes, patterns, colors, and not to mention, their beautiful gleaming surface.
The cowrie bracelet is considered as one of the best African jewelries because of its versatile nature. Cowrie shells can also be sewn and adorned as belts, they can also be worn as earrings, they can also be fixed on hair as a headband and can be worn on the wrist as a bracelet or worn on the foot as an anklet.
3.Handmade African coin earrings
The use of copper coins has really evolved in the African continent. It was mostly used as legal tender and as a measure of wealth. But gradually, Africans started making an ornament out of it by drilling holes through the coin, inserting a non-corrosive, copper wire though it that goes through the ear lobe.
It is a very beautiful piece of jewelry to have as it tends to blend in with most attires. This particular piece falls into the category of African best contemporary jewelries because it is quite popular, it has stood the test of time and is an all-time favorite for most ladies in the continent.
In older times, beaded corsets were adorned by men. It was used to symbolize the man’s position in the age set system of that particular tribe.
Over time this has changed and the corset has become one of the best African jewelries due to its extraordinary beauty. It is decorated with cowrie shells, beads, and even pearls.
5.Elephant hair beaded bracelet
Everyone wants to get their moneys’ worth whenever they purchase an item. African traditional jewelries are known to never disappoint in terms of value for money.
This particular piece is worth investing in because of its durability. Elephant hair is a very tough material which guarantees the user longevity of their item. To make it more appealing to the eye, it is combined with delicately chosen beads to make it pop.
6.Fulani gold earrings
The Fulani tribe is known worldly over for their special talent in jewelry crafting. But there is one particular piece that sets them apart from the rest of jewelers in the continent, which is the supersized gold twist earrings.
They are usually up to five inches long or more and they are made of pure gold or silver. This specific piece is usually looked upon as a status symbol as it is a preserve of the rich. African best contemporary jewelries like this one have managed to remain relevant due to their versatile nature as well as their worth.
7.African chunky choker
African traditional jewelries have a way of making the wearer a walking statement of style, oozing class, and elegance. This is what the above-mentioned piece has the power to do.
The chunky choker is worn around the neck and it is made up of beads which are sewn together to come up with a rectangular shaped piece of jewelry.
The choker can be multi-colored or have a single color depending on the buyers’ preference. It is one of the best African jewelries that we have in the continent. It is an accessory that comes quite in handy as it has the ability to bring to life a dull outfit.
8.Bib collar web necklace
This piece of jewelry is made up of plain or multi-colored beads. It is worn on the neck but it is supposed to rest on the shoulders.
It is one of the African traditional jewelries that is quite popular and loved by tourists. Who buy the items sometimes not to wear them, but to keep them as relics. It is specially handmade and crafted by the Maasai tribe.
9.Maasai fabric earrings
These earrings are made up of Maasai fabric instead of the usual wood, beads, copper, gold or silver that is used to make earrings. The fabric is molded into various designs according to the buyer’s preference. A hook made of copper is then attached to it so that it can be easily worn on the earlobe.
Of all other African traditional jewelries, this is one of the most ancient pieces of jewelry we have. This one has stood the test of time because, despite the beckoning to go modern, the beaded belt has remained as it was, with no drastic changes made to it whatsoever.
It is made up of a leather strand with a buckle at the end for purposes of fasting it on the waistline. This leather strand is then sewn with beads all over its entire length. The beads used could be one plain color or a variety of colors depending on the buyer’s liking. If it were up to me, I would classify this piece as one of the best African jewelries that we have. Reason being, it is so simple an ornament, easy to maintain, affordable, yet so elegant and very necessary to have.
This ornament is usually worn around the upper or lower arm depending on the buyer’s preference. It is made of brass that has been carved so as to be worn on the arm. It is less sophisticated as compared to other pieces of jewelry mentioned above.
Unlike the olden times when jewelry was worn to symbolize social status or to identify a particular stage in life such as puberty, these days jewelry is adorned for totally different reasons. But the reason that carries the day is, wearing jewelry for beauty or cosmetic purposes.