Did you know that the oldest(142000 and 150000 year old) of all jewelry was discovered in the Western Moroccan desert? That’s right, people of African roots and descent are and continue to be the originators of style and creativity! Our African ancestors lead the charge in the beautification of the world by way of artistic expression shown through jewelry. Though jewelry is often associated with aesthetic adornment, it has historically been used to designate place of origin, rank in society/military placements, marital status, socioeconomic level, fertility and wealth.
Some of the current jewelry “trends” can also be traced back to our African ancestry.
For example, many everyday women are actively wearing waist beads. Waist beads have and are presently worn throughout the African Diaspora. Their origins (though not specific to any one place on the African continent) are known to have been worn by African women as a sign of femininity and prosperity. Many practitioners of various Spiritual belief systems also furnish waist beads as physical symbols of incantations. Beside their spiritual connections, waist beads are also worn simply for their beauty and ability to assist with tracking weight loss or gain of the wearer.
Another hugely popular jewelry trend that originated on the African continent is the gold plate. Our African ancestors have worn large gold plates as necklaces, pendants for necklaces (also known as “pieces”) and earrings. Many modern day entertainment socialites are well known for their large gold chains that boast huge medallions made from the precious metal (did Slick Rick come to mind?!?). Contrary to popular belief, the adornment of one’s body in precious metals is not “ghetto”, instead it can be traced to our ancient African ancestry where royalty, persons of societal status, priests and the wealthy all wore gold for its beauty and perceived healing qualities. Gold teeth also deserve an honorable mention as an ancient African invention that was not only worn for its beauty and corresponding indication of social status but also for its ability to resist tarnish and bacterial growth and energy conductive capabilities.
The current thriving obsession with precious and semi-precious stones and crystals can also be attributed to ancient Africa. There are numerous archeological finds that display some of the highest quality of craftsmanship of precious stones and crystals that date back to the Ancient Kingdoms that predate the Kingdoms of Egypt. One of the most popular examples of Ancient African craftsmanship of a semi precious stone is Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s iron bladder dagger that is crafted from a meteorite. There are also the numerous examples of ancient uses of diamonds, lapis, quartz and opal to not only adorn the body in life but protect the Spirit in the afterlife. Ancient African burial sites often contain the remains of ornate jeweled burial masks of the deceased. Amulet encrusted statuettes of deities as offerings for the afterlife and ornately jeweled remains of ancestors. Just as in modern times, our African ancestors are also known for associating certain stones with specific healing qualities and energy frequencies. Presently, many believers also wear stones to symbolize and embody their believed healing and energetic qualities in addition to displaying social status.
The greatest take away from juxtaposing some of the current jewelry trends with our Ancient African history is that we (people of African descent) are the originators of creativity and no matter how far we think we are removed, from our oldest Ancestor (Mother Africa), she is inherently apparent in every area of our lives, specifically our sense of style which we express through jewelry.