Milan to Maasai; Handcrafted Artisan Jewelry

It’s not often that I come across a line of jewelry that gets me really excited.  Not only does it fit my design aesthetic but my social conscience as well.  As much as I love the jewelry, the story behind it is even more amazing….

Hundreds of tiny glass beads are strung together to form amazingly beautiful jewelry

Artisan Jewelry

This extraordinary jewelry is meticulously handcrafted by 200 Maasai women on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, East Africa from hundreds of tiny glass beads.

This is an incredible story about saving trees by replacing deforestation with artisanship. Until this jewelry project, the Maasai tribeswomen in this region generated income by cutting down trees and making and selling charcoal. This resulting deforestation was unsustainable and destructive to the balance of the ecosystem. How amazing that this jewelry has become an innovative environmental solution. By providing an alternative income source, these women have been able to shift from logging, back to their artisan roots to create this stunning wearable art.

Devotion, bravery, status. Unity of family, harmony of community and balance of nature.

These are just a handful of the core concepts the Maasai people hold in high regard. Though ideas circulate amongst generations, consolidated by the advice of mothers and the command of elders, nowhere is social value granted a more elegant expression than in the art of beadwork undertaken by the women of each community.  Women of the Maasai have the age-old habit of gathering together before, after and in-between their daily chores to craft beautiful jewelry. Hundreds of tiny glass beads are strung together in stunning patterns and shapes.

A community of Maasai women gather to craft their glass beaded jewelry

Collaboration

This all began as an extraordinary jewelry collection designed under the mentorship of Francesca Torri Soldini at Italy’s prestigious Istituto Europeo di Design. From there, Maasai artisan women meticulously handcraft the designs into breathtaking jewelry.Think high fashion fusion where Milan meets Maasai.

The development of this alternative microenterprise now protects the environment, preserves indigenous culture, at the same time creates a stable and sustainable income source for the women. Now that’s a beautiful thing on many levels!

A community of Maasai women gather to craft their glass beaded jewelry

Can you see why I’m so excited?  Adorn yourself with this incredible jewelry and be a part of making a difference! View the jewelry collection here

Diane Kennedy, eco-fashion, plus size clothing, made in Canada,