Berber and Jewelry
Berber jewelry is famed throughout the world. Berbers, the original inhabitants of Morocco, are a vibrant people with a rich history in customs and crafts. Berber jewelry is a mix of North Africa, Mediterranean and European influences.
Jewelry is very important to the Berber culture. The jewelry a woman wears identifies her status in the tribe: as a member of a clan, as a sign of her wealth, and as a symbolic protection for her well-being. Men, and children also wear jewelry as they are important talismans.
Berber jewelry is always made of silver, as gold is considered evil. Berber jewelry is characteristically symmetrical and geometric. Berber jewelry is also famed for beautiful enamel work and niello technique.
Necklaces are important, featuring talismans of silver, pink coral, amazonite, amber, Czech glass and West African ebony beads. These talismans are extremely important as they provide protective, medicinal and magical properties. Berber silver charms offer protection against the evil eye, disease, and misfortune. Silver is believed to cure rheumatism; coral symbolizes fertility; and amber is worn as a symbol of wealth and love. Amazonite and carnelian stones are used in determining fortunes, and East African shells symbolize fertility. Bracelets, fibulas (elaborate triangular brooches) anklets, earrings and headdresses are also popular pieces.
Many interesting symbols and patterns are featured in Berber art. There are scrolls, reminiscent of Celtic motifs. A small repeated “v” evokes a sprig of wheat. The symbol of an “A” depicts a man with raised arms, and is the symbol of Berber language and nation, the Amazighs. Another common symbol is the triangle, representing the tent and family. Motifs of animals, sun, moon and stars have supernatural powers. The Hand of Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Mohammad, is a symbol that wards off the evil eye. Any depiction of a hand represents the human creative power and dominance. The Berbers include these symbols as part of their culture and tradition.
Berber jewelry pieces are showstoppers. In Morocco, women wear layers and layers of the colorful and bold necklaces and accessorize with complementary bracelets, anklets, earrings and headdresses. You can wear this latest trend by wearing these bold necklaces as a statement piece in your outfit. The bright colorful coral, amber, and amazonite will set you apart.
Authentic Berber jewelry is usually difficult to find, unless you travel to Morocco. There, you can identify older, unique pieces by looking at their detail; the pieces tend to be more larger and heavier, often with more detail. These pieces are considered antiques, and are highly sought after by collectors. Traditional techniques, however, are still available and can be specially commissioned. For more affordable pieces, modern pieces tend to have more bold designs, brighter stones, and less weight. These are also beautiful, and are an affordable way to wear this traditional art form.