Tag Archives: jewelry

Vintage Moroccan Tribal and Berber Jewelry: For Your Collection

In this post: a stunning collection of Moroccan tribal jewelry for sale.  We traveled the souks of Marrakech and Essaouira to find these treasures — several stunning necklaces and one outstanding filigree Berber bracelet. All are vintage!  We sat on leather poufs at the feet of Moroccan traders who served us glasses of hot, sweet mint tea.

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We haggled Moroccan-style to get the best possible prices and selected the most original, authentic antique pieces from the most reputable merchants who locals know and trust.   We went right to the source and are offering these treasures to you just in time for the holidays.  Please send me an email with your mailing address, if you would like to purchase a piece.  I will send you a PayPal invoice, add mailing costs and the piece will be on its way to you pronto.  Oops, as fast as a sheik on a camel.

1. AMBER PENDANT NECKLACE–SOLD

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Stunning, hand crafted, vibrantly colored four strand antique Berber tribal necklace with amber. Circa 1940s. Pink coral, red coral, orange coral, turquoise, intricately painted wooden trading beads, hand rolled ceramic beads, engraved Berber silver, jet. Traditional yarn tie.

Length: 24 inches. Adjustable. Weight: 200 grams.  $285

2. COIN PENDANT NECKLACE

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Rare, exquisite multi-pendant antique tribal necklace. Four perfect strands of etched-pattern Berber silver, amber, turquoise, red coral, orange coral, hand rolled ceramic and painted wood beads. Antique Berber 2 dirham coin pendant, circa 1890s, and 2 red coral pendants.  Traditional yarn tie. Length: 24 inches, adjustable.  Weight: 195 grams.  $310.

3.  RED CORAL 7–STRAND NECKLACE

photo 3Antique red coral and red Venetian glass beads with Tuareg Berber silver desert medallion. Circa 1940s. Length: 20 inches. Weight: 95 grams.  Old clasp reinforced with invisible clear wire.  $225.

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4.  GREEN BEAD NECKLACE

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A show stopper. Remarkable antique Desert Tribal Necklace “Green Beads.” Circa late 19th century or earlier from the Ida ou Sental Berber tribe, southern Morocco. Six beaded strands with old brass and Berber silver desert medallions and coins. An elaborately engraved antique brass centerpiece medallion with Berber silver coin pendants symbolizing Circle of Life.  Hand painted wood trading beads and jet Venetian glass beads.

Length: 24 inches. Weight: 275 grams. Old hook clasp reinforced with clear wire. $350

5.  BERBER TRIBAL BRACELET, ATLAS MOUNTAINS

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Berberbracelet1

INTRICATE filigree Berber Silver Tribal Bracelet from the mid-Atlas Mountains. Green and yellow enamel, red and green original Venetian glass trading bead inserts, bezel set.  Six Berber silver coins with 5-pointed stars.
Diameter 2 ¼ inches diameter, 1 ½ inches wide. Weight: 100 grams. $280

Silver Jewelry Makers to Leave Oaxaca

Silversmiths Brigitte Huet and her husband Ivan Campant are making their last sterling silver jewelry castings in December 2013.  They will dismantle their Oaxaca Kand-art studio in early January 2014 to prepare for a permanent move to Brittany, France in early spring.  For over twenty years, Brigitte and Ivan have been carving intricate, traditional  Mexican designs derived from Azetc, Mixtec and Zapotec symbology using the ancient lost wax casting method.   Sadness does not begin to express how I feel about this.  It is a creative loss for Oaxaca.

Here is a message from Brigitte and Ivan to share with you:

Dear Friends,

I write because we may have met in Oaxaca, during one of our trips to the United States, or in a jewelry making workshop you attended.  Perhaps you collected and wear one of our jewelry creations.  I write to share this news with you.  

My husband Ivan and I are returning to France in March 2014 where we will live permanently.  It has been a difficult decision since Oaxaca has been our home for over 20 years and we have met many wonderful people like you during the time we have lived and worked here.

We want to stay connected to you and hope you will join our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005496314184where we post photographs and the process of how we work.   There will be new designs to come, too.  We will create these after we settle into our new home in France.  My Facebook email is brigittes.huet@gmail.com or kandamex@yahoo.com

Who knows ?  Perhaps you will come to visit us there or we will see you again somewhere else!  Maybe even in Oaxaca!  Thank you for your interest and support of our work.  We appreciate it.

Con besos y abrazos – with kisses and hugs – a bientôt – until we meet again,

Brigitte Huet and Ivan Campant

***

Their work can be found at El Nahual Gallery, 5 de Mayo, Central Historico, Oaxaca.  They are also accepting special orders which they will cast and make before they leave.  For any of you who know their work, you know how finely detailed it is, the quality of the workmanship, and the love and caring that goes into each piece.  For those of us who love Mexico, Kandart work represents a contemporary interpretation of pre-Hispanic life and reverence for the forces of nature:  earth, wind, fire, water, sun and moon, soaring eagle, grecas and caracols.  The codices become wearable art.

Yesterday, Brigitte and Ivan came to the casita for lunch.  They brought with them treasured plants to entrust in my care.  I promise to care for them well.  We talk about their future and leaving Oaxaca.  We talk about how everything they own must fit into one small shipping container.  We talk about how tourism has changed since the 2006 APPO demonstrations, fear of drug violence, and the economic crash of 2009.

I am reading Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart by Mark Epstein, M.D., a Buddhist psychiatrist-therapist.  He talks about transience and letting go.  He reminds me of the impermanence of all things.  He tells  me to be mindful of each moment and the beauty therein.  To be is more important than to do.

This is a perfect lesson for me as I begin to say goodbye to Brigitte and Ivan.  They are leaving Oaxaca but they are not leaving my life.  A bientot.  Until the next time.  Perhaps in Bretagne.

Oaxaca Filigree Gold and Silver, Antique Jewelry, Pawn Shops and Prayer for Rain

Gold filigree earrings are a favorite of traditional indigenous women in villages throughout Oaxaca, Mexico.  Mexican gold filigree jewelry, usually 10k or 12k, is gifted at life cycle events and is an important part of engagement and marriage traditions.  Antique pieces are usually more costly because of the workmanship.

Antique 10k gold filigree earrings, Oaxaca, Mexico

Antique 10k gold filigree earrings, Oaxaca, Mexico

Filigrana, the art of working gold threads or coils into intricate designs, was brought to Mexico by the Spanish after the conquest.  The Spanish learned the technique from the Moors.  Master goldsmiths taught local craftsmen and the skill became a family trade handed down through the generations. Today, there are a few master craftsmen working in gold, but because of the cost many visitors to Oaxaca choose filigree worked in sterling silver.

New silver filigree earrings by Mario Perez

New silver filigree earrings by Mario Perez

One such filigree craftsman is Mario Perez, who shares a shop with famed woodcarver Jacobo Angeles on Macedonio Alcala.  Step inside to see how silver becomes bows from which dangle gemstones and colored glass, curlicues, birds, flowers and angels.  The designs are intricate and beautifully executed. Mario makes earrings, pendants, rings, and complete necklaces.

Be careful — cuidado — if you are shopping price, beware that there are knock-offs that are imported from China.  Yes, indeedy.

One of my favorite places to explore and window shop is the Casa de Empeño Monte Piedad.  This is a bonafide government owned/regulated pawn shop located at the corner of Macedonio Alcala and Morelos, and one of the biggest.  Doors close between 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm.  At the corner is the Caja, the payment center.  Walk two doors down on Morelos (toward Garcia Virgil) to see the display of goodies for sale — some upwards of $10,000 USD.

Small antique 10k gold and pearl filigree earrings, Oaxaca, pawn shop

Small antique 10k gold and pearl filigree earrings, Oaxaca, pawn shop

Everything is priced by weight.  If you are lucky, you might find an antique pair of gold filigrana earrings (like I did the other day) for well under $80 USD.  One of the pearls was missing but all the parts worked beautifully.  I walked to a small family operated jewelry shop a few blocks away from the Zocalo, asked if they did repairs, and twenty minutes later my earrings were fixed — better than new!.  Materials and labor: $8 USD.

The pawn shops are filled with merchandise now.  I don’t know why.  Maybe more people are out of work, or what grandmother liked the granddaughters don’t, or the Guelaguetza tourist season was underwhelming and families need cash.  There are other priorities besides jewelry.  Many Casa de Empeños are located throughout the city, especially near in the 20 de Noviembre market. Keep your eyes open. You may not need to buy retail if you admire the old artistry.

P.S. This is the rainy season and it is dry, dry, dry.  No rain for weeks.  The corn is yellowing and some fields are dead.  Today, my next door neighbor irrigated his field.  How?  Water from a well or flowing from the mountain reservoir. The water gushed down trenches dug yesterday.  This coming season will likely bring scarcity and high prices for maize.  When food costs soar, people will sell what is not essential.   Abundance in the pawn shops. Join me in the prayer for rain.  It is painful to watch the fields shriveling and giving up their promise of food.

Earrings, a Pendant, Dreams Realized: Sterling Silver Jewelry Workshop

Beryl Simon from Boston, Massachusetts, signed up with us to take a sterling silver jewelry making workshop before she visited Oaxaca.  She wrote:  I love working with silver! I have a passion for jewelry making and design, and would like to expand my skills. I also love the work created in this workshop that I see on-line.  I invited Beryl to write about her experience.

***

 BerylSimon3  2.detail carving md

My recent trip to Oaxaca with my husband was wonderful in every way, but the high point for me was a three-day lost wax sterling silver jewelry workshop with Brigitte Huet and Ivan Campant. My dream was to work hands-on and one-on-one with master craftsmen amidst the color and charm of this beautiful city. And I took away not only the memories and new skills, but also a rather-professional-looking sterling silver pendant and set of earrings that I will treasure forever.

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On Friday morning, Day One of the workshop, I started out by taxi from our city center B&B to their home studio in a nearby residential area.  In my enthusiasm, I arrived a bit early (sorry Brigitte!), but was welcomed with a cup of tea and an introduction to two aging, friendly and adorable dogs.  Then we got to work.

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Lost-wax carving is an ancient and venerable tradition. Brigitte and Ivan showed me techniques that combine both ancient and modern techniques.  It was fascinating. During the first day, I learned to carve a traditional design using simple tools.  I must confess that I have no talent for carving wax! But somehow, Brigitte, with her patience and clear instruction, helped make it work for me. The difficulty of the wax carving process and doing it well made me appreciate even more the talent required to craft one of Brigitte and Ivan’s gorgeous creations.

After a focused morning, we took a break for a delicious lunch, which we bought from a local street vendor.  Brigitte made a tasty agua fresca (fresh fruit and water) drink and the dogs entertained us with some very cute tricks. And then, back to work.

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Day Two, Saturday, was devoted to casting the silver using a hand-sling and a charcoal fire.  I also learned to use a more modern motorized centrifuge.  I doubt there are many places in the world where students can learn this traditional method. Slinging molten silver is exciting but rather scary, and I was glad that Ivan had me practice this skill using water, while he slung the real piece. It was magic plunging the mold into water and pulling out the completed silver “tree.”

When I saw the sterling pendant I created, I was amazed. (I should mention that the cost of the silver is part of the workshop fee, making this a remarkable value.)  Heating the mold for casting takes hours, and during the down time, Brigitte guided me through carving a second wax piece based on my own design. Someday, I hope to finish and cast this piece as well.

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I spent Day Three, Sunday, with master silversmith Ricardo. As a student silversmith, this was a particularly important time for me. Under Ricardo’s guidance I worked entirely hands-on, from melting and recycling silver into sheet and wire, through to a finished and professional-looking pair of traditional-style earrings. In the process I honed my existing skills and learned many new ones, raising my level from beginning silversmith to intermediate level. I doubt that I could have had one-on-one experience like this anywhere else in the world.

What I learned:

  • Melting and pouring silver into forms.
  • Pressing sheet and pulling wire.
  • Learning the correct way to use a saw. I no longer have fear of making complex forms.
  • Practicing techniques for piercing with drill and burr.
  • Creating texture with dapping and stamping.
  • Soldering.
  • Polishing, polishing, polishing.
  • Making simple granulation and filigree. Because I had some experience, Ricardo guided me through this process.

The result:   Beautiful earrings that I love, and skills that I can use forever. Thank you, Brigitte, Ivan and Ricardo, for this wonderful adventure!

Interested in taking this workshop? Email us!

Beryl Simon 1 3.melting silver md 

Shop Mexico The Artisan Sisters: Frida Kahlo Silver Earrings

Mexico is filled with Frida — the icon of South-of-the-Border Style harkens us back to a big, bold fashion statement that signals femininity, pride, and a look that says I’m worth noticing.  From floral designs embroidered on blouses to fantastic, dangling earrings that move with you, Frida knew how to wear the clothing and jewelry that symbolizes Mexican design.  Here, we have earrings that translate that antique look into contemporary fashion.

Frida Style Filagree Silver Earrings

Friday Kahlo loved her Oaxaca earrings.  Here is a selection for you to wear and enjoy or for holiday gifting!  Order today and I will ship tomorrow morning, December 18, by USPS Priority Mail.

Doves adorn these are handmade silver and filagree earrings from Oaxaca embellished with either pearls (left), coral (center), or turquoise (right).  The posts fit snugly on your ear and dangle dramatically!  From top to bottom the earrings measure 2-1/2″ and are 1-1/2″ wide at the widest part.  $125 each includes shipping and handling.  Please specify the color you want.  I can get these to you by Christmas if you order today!

SilverGarnetEarrings These are also artist-made silver earrings by Cesar Ramirez Torres from Nayarit, Mexico, adorned with garnets.   They are 2″ long from the bottom of the hook and 1″ wide.  $75, includes shipping and handling.  And, yes, I can get these to you by Christmas if you order today!