Ashanti beads: The path to an inspired, one-of-a-kind jewelry collection
I love it when circumstances come together organically. Sometimes, everything falls into place without planning or trying, and those are often the most memorable and genuine moments. I recently experienced this phenomenon for myself. What started as a random online search ultimately led me to create a jewelry collection that would unite four continents and five countries. And now, during COVID, when we can't explore the world or connect with people the way we used to, this stroke of good luck came at just the right time.
I'm grateful that I could design a series of pieces that joins people through the beauty of jewelry. Every piece in my Globetrotter collection is unique and carries with it stories from around the globe.
As a jewelry designer, I've been creating and selling handcrafted, one-of-a-kind jewelry for over 12 years. I've always believed that timeless jewelry is more than just body adornment. It allows people to express themselves in personal and revealing ways.
The right statement piece can speak volumes about who you are or who you want to be. And the most valuable pieces of jewelry are the ones with a story to tell. It's that potential that continues to fuel my passion for creating stunning and original jewelry for my customers. And it's the little surprises, like this story, that makes it even more worthwhile.
I'm excited to share this collection and story with my customers.
The perfect find of Ashanti glass beads
While conducting an online search for a piece to inspire my next collection, I came across a group of African glass beads that took my breath away. I instantly fell in love. Not only were they the shape and size I was looking for, but they also held a singular charm that I found captivating, and I hoped my customers would too.
If you're not familiar with African glass beads, let me briefly share why they are so special.
Glass beads, also called trade beads, have been a part of African history for centuries and continue to be prized for their beauty and uniqueness. The beads are used for many traditions, ceremonies, and rituals and are an important part of African culture. The Krobo and Ashanti people of Ghana are acclaimed for producing high-quality glass beadwork coveted by many. And Ghana has long been the center of trade bead production in West Africa.
Today, glass beads are still primarily made using traditional techniques passed down from generations. But modern-day artisans use recycled glass to create these delicate mini-masterpieces. Crafters place the crushed recycled glass from jars, bottles, and scrap glass in molds, add pigments and heat them in clay kilns to create intricately designed beads.
The hand-made nature of these creations guarantees that each bead will be distinct.
From Africa to Canada
Everything about the beads I found spoke to me; the subtle tones of color, the rondelle shape, the authenticity. And I was delighted to discover that they were made in small batches, which made them an even rarer find. So while they shared the same saucer-like shape, each bead was a complete original. I knew I had to have them.
And as it turns out, the beads were made by a small woman-run business in Ghana, which fueled my resolve to have them even more.
The power of women-owned businesses
As the owner of a small business, I couldn't have been happier. I enjoy working and collaborating with other women-owned businesses. I believe there is so much we can accomplish when we work together and uplift each other.
I was even more pleased to find out a woman also owned the company that imported the beads. Through the beads, we had created an international trade link; we were now all connected. It felt like destiny to have three independently-owned, women-run companies come together out of this arbitrary online search.
This was a wonderful opportunity to be a part of something bigger and see women's empowerment in action.
Creating a one-of-a-kind jewelry collection
Now that I had the Ashanti glass beads, I started to envision the supporting pieces that could complement the beads and bring my designs to life. I turned to some of my favorite decorative and flattering materials:
- Tropical wood beads (coconut, rosewood, tambaba wood, sibucao) from the Philippines with delicate natural colors and grain patterns.
- Lightweight rattan from Thailand to provide texture and simple elegance.
- Durable brass from Turkey with warm golden tones and a brilliant shine.
Some of the most exquisite and natural materials from around the world went into making the Globetrotter collection. The Ashanti beads were the start of something beautiful. And I'm so happy I could bring all these elements together from across the world and make creations my customers can love.
When people wear an original, handcrafted piece from the Globetrotter collection, I want them to feel fabulous and unique. But even more importantly, I want them to feel a greater sense of connection to the world around them.