My fashionistas, a couple days late but better late than never, wishing you all a very happy new year 2015! As you know, team One Time Fashionista went to Morocco and now back with life-time experiences, memories to cherish for long, some odd 6 thousands wonderful pictures and lots of goodies for our home and for my personal use. Talking about personal use, what better ways to fill my suitcase in than collecting pieces made by local artisans available in the souks (markets) there. Souks are a major feature of Moroccan life, and among the country’s greatest attractions. They are found everywhere: every town has a souk area, large cities like Marrakesh have labyrinths of individual souks (each filling a street or square and devoted to one particular craft), and in the countryside there are hundreds of weekly souks, on a different day in each village of the region. So, Morocco = Art & Craft shoppers’ paradise!
Ceramics, jewellery, wooden crafts, rugs, carpets, blankets, clothes (especially Kaftans and head scarfs), leatherware (especially shoes called ‘Babouches’ slippers), foodstuffs (Saffron, olives, Argan oil for both cooking and for external use) are some of the things you should definitely consider buying when in Morocco. Why? Follow my series of posts (coming up next) on Shopping in Morocco and you’ll have an overall idea. In this post, I will be sharing my jewelry haul from Morocco.
Arabic-style gold jewellery tends to be a bit fussy for my tastes, but silver is another story. In the south particularly, you can pick up some fabulous Berber necklaces and bracelets, always very chunky, and characterized by bold combinations of semiprecious (and sometimes plastic- so be very careful while choosing) stones and beads. Women in the Atlas and the Souss Valley regions in particular often wear chunky silver bracelets, belts embellished with old silver coins, or heavy necklaces with big beads of amber, coral and carnelian. Silver brooches are used to fasten garments, and many of the symbols found in Moroccan jewellery, such as the “hand of Fatima” and the five-pointed star, are there to guard against the evil eye. Marrakesh and Aït Benhaddou are particularly two places where I found real good jewellery souks and all these collections are handpicked from there.
Each of (my) 7 best traditional vintage Berber jewellery picks from Morocco has a story to tell and to know how significant they are to the country’s culture and history, keep scrolling down.
1. Old Berber Silver Fibula Cloak Pin (aka Brooch)
This Old cast silver Berber fibula or cloak pin is from the the edge of the Sous Valley in Morocco. Made of good quality silver, it has a nice old worn patina and shows some wear. It also has a loop at the top so can be used in necklace designs as well as brooch. Now this is special because I know for a fact that many will not dare to try this unique and rare piece of jewellery. That’s where the fun is! Trying out unique vintage accessories and styling them with contemporary outfits are my forte:)
2. Vintage Moroccan African Berber Amber Turquoise Artisan Necklace
Materials: Silver with green, red and ocher enamel. Red glass cabochon.
This big enamel ethnic pendant made of silver comes from the Berber tribes in Morrocco.
3. Original Berber Necklace With Rare Pendant & Coins 12th to 19th C
A stunning, original, rare and very wearable original Berber necklace with an unusual and lovely Tiznit area enameled pendant, orange tube beads and a historical mix of silver coins. This is not a tourist made piece, but something that would have been worn authentically.
As soon as I saw this, I knew that it has to be mine because of the ancient round Almohad dirham from the 12th to 13th century. Some of the larger dirhams and Moroccan francs coins date from 1893 to 1911 to 1934, the smaller coin – 1/2 dirhams dating from 1873 onwards. There are Spanish Reales and pesetas from 1820 to 1880, plus a 1869 French franc. What a piece to collect!
The pendant itself is a very unusual shape. This necklace may have been made by a Berber lady using elements handed down from generations as a dealer would have not kept such old pieces of silver, they would have been remelted and reused. It has been strung with care and sits very comfortably on the neck.
The best thing about this beauty is, it can be hung on the wall as a piece of decoration. Double duty! That’s how I like it!
4. Lucious Antique Coral & Old Silver Bead Necklace With Moroccan Berber Southern Cross
A stunning African trade coral necklace with Southern Cross – boghdad pendant. The coral alone weighs 51 grams. The heavy silver beads are antique silver beads and the cross is beautifully weathered. It looks a bit lumpy because it has traces of old date paste which would have been perfumed and smeared on.
The length of the strand is 88cms 34 ins and the pendant is 5cms or 2 inches long. It is versatile to wear as it can be knotted and worn higher as well as being reversible.
A joy to wear!
5. Old Berber Tagemout Coral, Amazonite and Resin Amber necklace
Materials: Coral, Czech glass beads, Silver, Amazonite, Resin Amber
This is an spectacular berber necklace from the western anti-Atlas in Morrocco, with different kind of beads, all of them very significant for berber culture because of their prophilactic and protective meanings.
The central piece is an old tagemout, an egg shaped silver bead decorated with filigree and enamel. This is a big example, measuring 5,5 cm (2,16 in). On each side and also at each end of the necklace there are old big resin amber beads and antique amazonite beads. The rest of the necklace is a mix of beautiful beads like the long original red coral branch beads, berber silver beads and old czech glass beads.
The longer coral beads measure around 4 cm long (1,57 in). The necklace have been recently re-strung, but all the beads on this necklace are old.
The necklace is 62 cm long (24,4 in) and can be fastened with a hook. It weights 418 gr.
6. Mid Century Sterling Silver Enamelled Berber Cuff
Materials: The metal is an alloy that looks like it has both brass and silver. The ‘stones’ seem to be made of acrylic resin.
This bohemian tribal hinge bangle with red and blue stones can be so versatile when it comes to utility. The large tribal ethnic beatiful Moroccan accessory is a stamped collectibles as it could be a decoration piece, a jewellery box and a hand cuff. Although it shows some wear and patina but nothing that detracts from its beauty. The hinge – pin closure work well. This is my most favourite!
Option 1: I would place it on my dressing table or may be to change a bit, somedays keep it on bedside table as a piece of decoration Option 2: Open the lid and this will serve the purpose of a beautiful box for my collection of jewels Option 3: Take the bottom off and see what happens next Voila! What a hand cuff!
This beautiful mid century sterling Berber cuff enameled in the traditional Moroccan color blue and red and green ornamented with arabesque. Please see all pictures to know how many ways you can use them and enjoy! It is in a good vintage condition, very good quality made it a collectible jewelry.
7. Real Amber Berber Saffran Heavy Resin Beads With Metal Pieces Necklace
Materials: Old restrung Berber saffran, amber resin beads with inlay metal pieces, and necklace is from Morrocan Sahara, made with brown wool
The saffran resin beads are usually very large and heavy and come originally from the south of Morocco.
Total Length: 113 cm Largest Bead: 4.5 cm diameter
Total Length (woollen black Cord) necklace: 112 cm / 27 beads. They are adjustable with knot.
Whatever you buy, other than food items, you will be expected to bargain. There are no hard and fast rules – it is really a question of paying what something is worth to you – but there are a few general points to keep in mind. On next post, I will ne sharing my tips on bargaining. Wait! Am I street-smart when bargaining? Well..almost all the sellers had to conclude by saying (to my partner), ”You have a good woman there! She knows what she is talking about! She means business!” Well, after all it runs in the family- I mean, except my elder sister and I, my entire family- both my parents’ side are into business. So, just to give you a hint whether I was good or bad or just about so-so in bargaining, I bought all these pieces of jewelleries for only GBP 67.00 in total. If you search for Moroccan Berber jewellery on Etsy, you’ll know what a great deal I had, yeah! So, keep following this blog to know tips (next post) on bargaining while shopping in Morocco.1