Afghan jewelry normally contains deep blue Lapis Lazuli, the stone that has been associated with royal entities in archaeological excavations since it was known that it was reserved to be worn only by royalty. The sparkling flecks that seem to appear as a part of the night sky are said to be a symbol of endless possibilities. Afghani mines produce the finest specimens of this stone in the world as well as turquoise, jade, carnelian and agate. Silver, silver-nickel and metal alloy are the normal metals of choice in the settings, and gold is seldom used. Preferences if you are looking for highly treasured collectible and museum quality pieces would be in the antique and vintage jewelry categories.
There is the authentic antique tribal jewelry as well as reproductions, the latter being identified as "contemporary" in the descriptions. However, these reproductions are crafted by talented artisans who carefully apply the traditional skills, techniques, and patterns that were originally employed by their tribal groups.
What is Tribal Jewelry?
Authentic tribal jewelry is handcrafted by tribal artisans using symbolic and traditional local materials to create the unique adornment objects that contain cultural meaning and is sought by collectors from all over the world. The pieces are quite often multi-purpose and interchangeable. A necklace can become a headpiece. A pendant could be part of a necklace, a pin on clothing, be a waist ornament hung from a belt, or woven into the hair.
The colors used are those of nature including the rich blues of the lapis lazuli and turquoise, the whites of bone and pearl, the reds of coral and carnelian, and the warm hue of amber. Tribal jewelry also reflects a way of and communications about the long-ago wearer's repository for wealth that could be converted into valuable currency or used in barter, social status, group affiliation, spiritual beliefs, communal celebrations, and more.
If some pieces have been on display and for sale over generations, they are apt to show considerable wear and have missing stones or broken parts or other irregularities. However, those add to the heritage and value.
January 25, 2016
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