While jewellery may be popular a popular accessory in most countries, it is truly something special to African people. In fact, in Africa the jewellery you wear can symbolise so many things including age, status, wealth and happiness. It’s also made from a range of natural and beautiful materials including glass, semi-precious stones, wood, ivory, bone, shells and animal hair.
Africans are so well known for their beautiful jewellery that its influenced designers all over the world. From recognisable pieces such as cuff bracelets and bead necklaces, to chokers and pendants, African influenced jewellery is timeless and never seems to go out of fashion.
For the most part, African jewellery tends to be colourful, bold and chunky, because it is there to make a statement. But with such a huge range of patterns, materials and styles across the nation, it’s no wonder that you’ll find the perfect African inspired accessories for you, no matter what the season. Check out our guide below for some of the most timeless and stylish African inspired jewellery trends you’re going to want to buy this year.
Bold colours and patterns
Let’s start with the tribal patterns and bright colours that have influenced so many of our jewellery trends. In Africa, jewellery is made from natural materials and is created in warm and bold colours to denote happiness and joy. This is shown mostly through the bold and fun tribal patterns we associate with Africa.
These have made their way around the world and inspired brightly coloured necklaces, patterned bags, colourful cuffs and beaded bracelets everywhere. The influence of these joyful colours can be found in so many of our accessories and types of jewellery. That’s why it can be easy to forget these actually come from an African influence, as they are so popular and common place in countries across the world.
Geometric shapes and glossy textures
Following on from this, African jewellery also features a lot of geometric shapes in bright colours (as in many of the tribal patterns). This has influenced designers everywhere, who choose to use these bold shapes to make a variety of statement pieces of jewellery. From chunky necklaces all the way to geometric rings, the influence of these shapes and patterns can be found worldwide. And for the most part these incorporate bright colours and add a glossy texture to any outfit – just as they were designed to do in Africa.
Chunky cuff bracelets
Gold cuff bracelets are an essential for African women, no matter how rich or poor you are, you’ll have at least one pair of gold cuffs. And this is another trend that has made its way around the world, with many choosing a bold cuff as the perfect way of making a statement. Whether gold or silver, these cuffs ooze glamour and can often be paired with elegant evening gowns, prom or even wedding dresses. These aren’t always worn round the wrist either, in recent years upper arm cuffs have also made an appearance, often influenced by both African and Grecian styles.
Jewellery made with precious stones
As previously stated, African jewellery is made from a range of natural materials including stones. These include precious and semi-precious stones covering everything from diamonds to opals. These stones are added to rings and pendants to make beautiful one of a kind pieces. This is a jewellery trend that you’ve probably seen a lot, from dainty rings containing polished oval stones, to beautiful amber pendants on your necklaces. This is a popular design in Africa, but also all around the world.
We might associate chokers with the nostalgia of the 90s, but this is yet another jewellery trend that lends itself to Africa. From beautiful tribal patterns to stacked golden hoops, there are a variety of styles that we recognise as being an important part of African jewellery. And in recent years these have been given a modern twist and have found themselves back in mainstream fashion.
You’ll have your pick of the bunch from lace chokers to plain cords supporting jewels, dream catchers and other stylish pendants. These can also be found in a range of materials including leather, swede, lace, metals and beads.
Statement gold plates
A very recognisable part of African jewellery is the use of thick gold plates, whether these are being used for earrings, pendants or oversized necklaces. In fact, their motto seems to be the bigger the better! The gold colour is associated with the nature and the beauty of the sun, and is often worn to denote warmth and to bring people happiness and inspiration.
These large gold plates are also popular across the globe, being used for large statement earrings or a statement necklace to compliment your simple but elegant outfit. In Africa, these large gold plates convey wealth and status, elsewhere they convey confidence, style and elegance.
Beads are an extremely important part of African culture. These were used in artistic creations across the nation, but more than that, sometimes they were even used as currency! You’re probably familiar with images of beautifully intricate and colourful beaded jewellery in Africa, and this is no less popular across the world.
The materials have changed over time to include stone, clay, metal, shells and glass, something which has been replicated in beaded designs everywhere. You’ll have your pick of styles with everything from beaded chokers to dainty bracelets and stunning earrings. All inspired by the beautiful bead culture of Africa.
Are you feeling inspired?
So many African inspired styles of jewellery have become timeless and staple pieces across the world. You’ll probably have several necklaces, bracelets or rings in your jewellery box that are inspired by Africa, though you might not have thought about it or noticed it before because they have influenced designs across the globe for so long! So if you’re looking to update your accessories this year, you can’t go wrong with a bit of African influence.
Written by Hayley Sturniolo, owner of Inscripture.com specialists in personalised, handwritten jewellery.