African jewelry is a unique form of African art. Jewelry from the continent of Africa is more than just beautiful. Each item is worn for a particular purpose, ranging from aesthetics to identifying rank to showing affiliation with certain cultures or groups. African jewelry covers the gamut in terms of design and materials used for making it. Types of jewelry include pendants, earrings, necklaces, anklets and bracelets. A wide variety of materials are used to make jewelry including coconut shell, cow horn and jade. This article focuses on the use of haematite, tiger’s eye stone and ebony wood.
- Haematite (or hematite) is iron-ore occurring in crystalline form. It is opaque and usually dark silver or reddish brown In fact, the word haematite is derived from the Greek word “haima” which means blood. The most common use of haematite is in production of steel. However, haematite is also polished and used to make jewelry such as necklaces and earrings. Additionally, figurines are carved out of haematite. It is mined throughout Africa including in Sierra Leone and South Africa.
- Tiger’s Eye Stone
- Tiger’s eye stone is also called African cat’s eye. This lustrous gemstone is typically dark brown with golden streaks. It gets its name from the golden streaks which resemble a tiger’s eye. It is made of quartz and is therefore very durable. Tiger’s eye is used to make rings, charms necklaces, etc. It is found in Namibia and South Africa.
- Ebony Wood
- Ebony is a dense black wood which sinks in water. It is from a genus of trees called Diospyros. Ebony wood is definitely an amazing and unique wood probably most recognized for its use in fingerboards and also for different types of musical instruments. Its good consistency, and extremely sleek finish, makes it extra valuable when used for making sculptures. Ebony wood is also used to make jewelry such as earrings.