From a very young age jewelry and the beauty of adornment have fascinated me. It is my belief that jewelry is an important aspect of our cultural differences and a celebration of our diversity and individuality. I think our differences accentuate our unique personal magic. In this individual power we can rejoice in our own special story that we honor through living out our lives and being ourselves.
In my early teenage years, I would wear layer upon layer of jewels. Each piece of jewelry that I wore had a story; it was either given to me by someone special, was picked up somewhere on a significant and memorable day, or had a story or an anecdote attached to it. I felt like these instances, those moments in time, and the personal encounters attached to each and every piece were part of who I was, and continue to make me who I am today.
When I was fifteen years old, I traveled to Kenya to visit my mothers jewelry designer friend, Caroline. I remember visiting a Maasai school, and feeling uncomfortable about the amount of jewelry I was wearing. Even though I never had an affinity for expensive jewelry, I began to remove them, wanting to eliminate the invisible barrier of what I thought was rich and poor. But a man there quickly stopped me, saying, “No! This is your culture, your jewelry is your culture, they have their culture and you have yours!” I remember this experience having a profound effect on me.
Being of multicultural descent, I realized early on that I somehow needed to create my own identity and culture, and I believe this goes for adornment as well. Each piece of jewelry that I chose to wear had a story, and each story makes me who I am. It is my culture
I wanted my first blog post to be a celebration of the diversity and beauty of adornment.
From the colorful beadwork of the Maasai of Kenya, the deep ocean blue Lapiz Lazuli stonework of Afghanistan, the regal beauty of Indian marriage traditional jewelry, to the ceremonial feather-work headpieces worn in Papua New Guinea, the diversity within adornment is endless. The way humans have ornamented themselves throughout history is a testament to the abundance and beauty of human diversity.
Maydo / Mursi girl from mago national park / omo valley. Mario Gerth
Black and White | Mitchell Kanashkevich Photography
Africa | "Veiled Orma Woman" Kenya | ©Mirella Ricciardi, 1969
Africa | "Omo: Untitled 45" From the collection 'Omo: Expressions of a People" Ethiopia | ©Drew Doggett
Africa | Suri girl. Omo Valley, Ethiopia | ©Fabio Marcato
Africa | 'Mynga' from the Mumuhuila tribe of Angola. | ©John Kenny