Our favorite pieces of jewelry are versatile, striking and make us feel chic in any outfit. Those are not easy to come by, and when we find one, we literally wear it day and night. That’s what happened when we discovered Shompole, a beautiful fine jewelry line designed by photojournalist Elizabeth Gilbert and crafted by a multi-cultural team of Kenyan artisans.
It all started when Gilbert saw a picture of a Dinka woman in Sudan wearing a beaded neck choker. She had a flash of inspiration: “I wanted to interpret this tribal piece of jewelry for a western audience,” she says.
Gilbert began sourcing precious and semi-precious beads, gold, fine leather and bone pendants from local markets. She assembled a multi-cultural team of craftsmen from different tribes and ethnicities and started creating gorgeous one-of-a-kind pieces that merge high fashion with African heritage. “We wanted to maintain the organic, handmade character that is symbolic of tribal jewelry while working in indigenous fine metal and gem stones, alongside unexpected materials,” she says. (Make sure you check out our beautiful Shompole slideshow to get an inspiring glimpse of their workshop.) We offer three variations of the Shompole collection’s Sudan necklace;a spinel bead choker (photo 2), a pyrite bead necklace (photo 3) and an emerald bead necklace (photo 4), all embellished with 18k gold details and clasps. The spinel choker (which can also be worn like a lower necklace) features a black onyx charm encased in gold, a gold charm accented with a small garnet and an old African coin charm; the Spinel piece has a gold crescent charm accented with a garnet and an old African coin charm; the emerald necklace has a topaz charm encased in gold and an old African coin charm.
The necklaces look absolutely stunning on and are surprisingly wearable. We have worn them with everything from a t-shirt and jeans to our favorite LBD and they look unfailingly fabulous. (They are also great attention getters and conversation starters, which gives us endless opportunities to tell Shompole’s story.) We love our stylish piece of African heritage and wear it with pride. Every day. And every night.
from New York City, NY