On a tiny island off the coast of Mozambique (called Ilha de Moçambique in Portuguese), centuries-old trade beads and other relics wash up on shore, the result of dozens of shipwrecks over the years of maritime trading. Originally made in Venice, Bohemia, Hebron, India and beyond, these beads were brought to Africa by Portugese, Swahili and Arab traders and used as currency. Today local boys dig on the beach to find the beads to sell in mismatched strands to the few travelers that visit the island.
While living in Mozambique, I bought many antique beads to remind me of this unique place and to use in my jewelry. Each one is different, with rich patina from the salt and waves. I like to think about the artisan who originally made the beads, the merchant who sold them, the local hands that received the beads and those that, centuries later, pulled them from the exposed sand at low tide. My hands, and eventually those of the wearer, continue the story.
Puka Shell and Trade Bead Set
Bib necklace and stud earrings with reclaimed puka shells, trade beads, brass discs, heat patina.
Puka Bib Necklace – Detail
Reclaimed puka shells from a surfer necklace, trade beads, oxidized brass discs with balled articulations.
Puka Bib Necklace on Model
Articulated necklace with puka shells, antique Moz Island trade beads on brass discs with heat patina.
Currency Washed Ashore Sketches
Sketches of articulated NuGold brass disc back structure, Currency Washed Ashore necklace.
Dutch Donut Drops with Turquoise
Antique “dutch donut” Mozambique Island trade beads, turquoise, sterling silver. Pendant and earrings (discs measure 3/4" dia.)
Dutch Donut Drops with Agate
Antique “dutch donut” Mozambique Island trade beads, white agate, oxidized sterling silver. Pendant and earrings (discs measure 3/4" dia.)
Sketches for Dutch Donut Drops
Concept drawings for Dutch Donut drop pendant and stud earrings.