Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ethiopian Artisan Crafted Jewelry

My husband just spent nearly two weeks with a group of fellow Americans in Ethiopia doing a medical mission.

He brought home the "obligatory" souvenirs, although all I wanted from Ethiopia was for him to come home safe. Regardless, his selections were really neat and some are actually relevant to this blog...because he bought jewelry! (what can I say? I've got him trained...haha!)

The first few things he bought were from Entoto Beth Artisan (link to their Facebook page), which was started by a group, BEZA Community Outreach, that recognized a great need for people ostracized by their families and communities and living on the mountain, to be able to earn an income. The women my husband bought the jewelry from are former prostitutes rescued from that lifestyle and taught to make jewelry. 

Coffee is a big export for Ethiopia (yes, this is relevant)

The first piece I'm going to show you is one that hubs bought for me and uses sealed coffee beans as beads. 

Coffee Bean necklace from Ethiopia #entotobethartisan

It is surprisingly elegant and coffee brown looks good with just about everything. The metal beads are lead free and crafted by local farmers using bullet casings and scrap metal discarded during past conflicts in the region. 

The purple silk scarf (he pays attention to what my favorite color is!) the necklace was photographed on was created start to finish by local Ethiopian artisans. The company is called Sabahar and the group he traveled with was able to visit and watch the artisans work. 

A little more info about Sabahar: "We buy local Eri silk cocoons from small farmers, spin the silk and cotton, dye it and then hand weave the locally-sourced thread into beautiful textiles. Buying a Sabahar product means you support a truly Ethiopian product, cared for by skilled artisans at each stage of the process."

Coffee bean bracelet from Ethiopia

This is another necklace handcrafted by the ladies at Entoto Beth Artisan that he brought home for our 11 year old daughter. Again, the beads are made of scrap metal. This particular necklace could be worn everyday. Maybe I will snatch it from her when she isn't looking.

Necklace from Ethiopia #entotobethartisan

Not to leave out the guys, he brought home two similar necklaces for himself and our 15 year old son. They use some kind of stone pendant (the ladies didn't know what it was) with a simple wire wrap and the scrap metal beads.

  Necklace #entotobethartisan  #ethiopia

Another group that works to empower people that have been shunned so they can earn a living is Project 61. The particular people the group visited live in a garbage dump because they are not accepted by their families or communities. Some look through the dump for things to recycle and sell. Some have been taught skills like making jewelry to sell. He bought these bracelets for our daughter from them.

Bracelets from Ethiopia #project61

And the last jewelry piece he got is this necklace and bracelet set for our daughter from a roadside market.

Necklace and bracelet set #ethiopia #roadsidemarket

He bought us a few other coffee, some woven baskets, hand carved wood animals, and more handwoven scarves. But I wanted to share the jewelry he bought and the stories behind them. I love that he bought us locally crafted jewelry, by artisans, getting fair wages.

Have a great week!

-Jen Cameron
Glass Addictions


  1. Wonderful post - Amazing work your husband is doing! I love that jewelry making is universal to people everywhere. Making beautiful things.

  2. Wow. What an amazing trip to take! I love all that he purchased for you. He has a great eye. I am impressed by his commitment to helping others. But the best thing is that he is home safe with stories to tell. Thank you for sharing! Enjoy the day. Erin

  3. What a blessing. Not only did he go there to help, he helped out more by buying so carefully and supporting the locals. Thanks for sharing (that coffee bean necklace is divine!)

  4. What a wonderful experience for your husband! I am glad he arrived home safely with treasures to share. He picked out some awesome pieces and coffee, YUM! I really enjoyed this post :) xo Genea

  5. Talk about inspirational designs, Jen... something from nothing (or rather from that which had been rejected). There are so many lessons from this post. Though we cannot all do as your hubby has done, giving the precious gift of his time and expertise, we can certainly help by shopping rationally, and with a thought to the effect on others, especially the marginalized. Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. First of all let me say how much I admire these folks who go to poor countries to provide medical care. My cardiologist here in Dayton has been all over the place. It is such a wonderful gift to share services that we take fro granted in this country.

    Second: LOVE those coffee beans! And the scrap metal beads are amazing. Thanks for sharing this post. You are so lucky to have a husband who knows how to shop for jewelry!

  7. Wonderful post Jen! I too agree it is great that hubby travels around helping those in need. And then to bring you home jewelry, well I have to say, girl you trained him right!!!!LOL. I really love all the pieces he brought home. Amazing work. I am going to go and check out the sites. Thanks for the great post!

  8. I enjoyed reading your blog. It reminded me of my son's trip to Cameroon with Engineers without boarders. He brought me a necklace from there. Your husband sure must have missed you all. He obviously took time selecting what you would all like. I am glad he is home safe.

  9. You have got him very well trained - what wonderful presents, made even more wonderful by the stories behind them. And what a wonderful man, too, to be doing the work he does!

  10. I love this post. Your husband sounds like a great guy for taking part in the medical mission and for bringing home cool presents! So thoughtful. I'm in awe over the beads from bullet casings. Really makes me think about using what's available.

  11. You must be so proud of that man...what a selfless act! Beautiful gifts, made more special by the stories they tell..bravo!

  12. This was a fascinating blog post, on many levels. Reaching out to the marginalized, providing medical care, the dignity derived from earning an honest wage and the universality of physical adornment. Loved it all. The use of cast off bullet casings to create something of beauty, moved me. Made me think of the phrase from the book of Micah, in the Bible: "Beating swords into plowshares". We need far more of that!


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