Traveling the world to find inspiration for my new collection brings me to Equador this time. In this blog, I would like to tell you how to use traditional Ecuadorian jewelry as an inspiration for designing new pieces of jewelry.
Every culture, especially women, have their own way to make pieces of jewelry. They have their own style and use the material, that they find in the surroundings or material that is obtained easily by trade. The work of these women is my inspiration to my design my own handmade design jewelry, mostly made of gemstones and silver. I like to travel the world to find those beautiful pieces of jewelry and study how they are designed and produced. This time I visited Ecuador, a tiny but absolutely beautiful country in Latin America.
The most touristic place in Ecuador is Otovalo, where they have an enormous market every Saturday and loads of tourists come to visit and have a look at the people, that sell their products. But they also come for the traditional dress the farmer women are still wearing here. The dress is a black skirt, with a white embroidered blouse, sometimes a shawl they use as a coat and a head covering. Otovalo was too touristic and too busy for me, so I hired a taxi and explored the surroundings of Otavalo.
And I was so lucky. I met a few elderly women in a little place high up in the mountains, who still wore their pieces of jewelry, they received from their mothers and grandmothers. Especially the necklaces and the earrings were special and very old (more than 50 years). When I showed my admiration for their pieces of jewelry, they became very open and told me everything they knew about their treasures.
To start with the necklace: the women in the highlands of Ecuador were multiple necklaces at the same time. The strands are not combined to one necklace, but every necklace is worn separately. The necklaces are made of golden beads or wood that is covered with a tiny layer of gold and when the family was not rich they also used Tjech glass in a gold color. The Tjech glass necklaces are not that old since the trade in these beads started about 20 years ago.
Besides the ‘golden’ multiple strands necklaces, the women wear always a one strand coral necklace. The coral necklace has no round beads but has the shape of little branches. There is no way to find coral in the highlands of Equador in nature. The women got the coral by trading their products to the people on the coast of Equador. And that trade has a long history since the Inca’s already used coral in their artifacts and decorations.
The earrings are from gold (18 carats mostly) and have the shape of a chandelier and are decorated with a gemstone and sometimes with a glass bead. The earrings are rather long. The shape of the earrings surprised me since long earrings, with a shorter neck of the Ecuadorian women and the shawl they are wearing to protect them against the cold, does not seem to be practical. But they don’t seem to bother. And they look gorgeous with them.
I already told you that the traditional pieces of jewelry in a culture like the Ecuadorian, are an inspiration to make my own handmade and individually designed pieces of jewelry of gemstones and silver. And you will find in my FlorenceJewelshop the first necklace inspired by this culture.
It is a multiple strand necklace, to make it more comfortable to wear, the rice pearls are small and light, like the traditional necklaces. I used the idea of the traditional coral necklace between the rest of the golden colored strands too. The multiple strand pearl necklace has little-faceted garnet beads, to represent the red color. The strands are ‘curled’, to get a full necklace feeling, like the traditional ones and the advantage is that the curls stay in this shape, but you can stretch them a bit, to get a longer necklace. Of course, my necklace is finished with a magnetic clasp and you don’t have to use a string to ‘close’ the necklace’.
When you want to know more about this necklace, have a look at this link.
And… there are more stories coming about the traditional and modern pieces of jewelry, designed and made in Ecuador. So stay tuned or send me your email address, so that I can warn you when a new story has been published.
Hug Florence from FlorenceJewelshop