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Diamonds in the Rough: Kalahari Bushmen Bejeweled

April 21, 2010

Bejeweled Kalahari Bushman. photo: Boo George

Geneticists believe that the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert in Africa are perhaps the oldest group still walking the earth.

Largely isolated from the outside world until the last century, the Bushmen have, for countless generations, made beautiful jewelry to adorn themselves and their loved ones. Their intricate designs incorporate wild seeds, sticks, bone, tortoiseshell, and most importantly, beads painstakingly hand-made from shards of ostrich eggshell. Despite their wealth of beautiful adornment, the Kalahari Bushmen are amongst the poorest and most disenfranchised of their southern African homeland.

photo: Boo George

When Anna Haber, the marketing director for emerald producer Gemfields, and Sabine Roemer, a London-based jeweler, recently collaborated with Bushmen women in Ghanzi, Botswana, the result was a stunning collection that fuses ancient traditions with modern style. The unique 19-piece line of necklaces, bracelets and earrings, fuses the Bushmen’s traditional skills and natural materials with new elements such as leather, silver, velvet and satin.

photo: Boo George

Jewels of the Kalahari, however, aims higher than high style. With it, Haber hopes to create both awareness of the Bushmen’s plight, and a sustainable business for the tribe that will generate a consistent income and ongoing work. Haber is currently searching for retailers who might make a commitment to working with the Bushmen so that their unique skills can find a broader home in the world. Jewels of the Kalahari is too inspiring a project to leave disenfranchised.

For more information, read Anna Haber’s blog.  To offer connections to interested retailers, please e-mail her at haberanna@hotmail.com.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Anna Haber permalink
    April 21, 2010 7:29 am

    Hi there, I just wanted to say thank you so much for your support and posting an article on your blog about the ‘Jewels of the Kalahari’. I love your blog, you cover so many interesting topics and thought provoking view points. I will link you to my blog also, if that’s ok.
    Thanks again, Anna

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