Jewels of the Kalahari 11.05.10

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image: Boo George

Jewellery entrepreneur Anna Haber and jeweller Sabine Roemer travelled to Ghanzi, Botswana, to collaborate with local tribeswomen on "Jewels of the Kalahari", a 19-piece collection of bracelets, earrings and necklaces.

"We didn't want to tell them: this is how you do it," says Haber, who instigated the project after seeing jewellery bought back from Botswana. Instead, the pieces came about through collaborative workshops with the local tribeswomen.

The craftsmanship of the Kalahari Bushmen is combined with more fashion-conscious elements from Roemer and Haber. The jewellery combines traditional materials, such as wild seeds, sticks, bone, tortoiseshell and most notably ostrich egg shells, with leather, silver, velvet and satin. The ostrich egg is a surprisingly useful natural resource. One egg feeds a whole family, the shell is used as a container to carry water and eventually the broken shards are painstakingly filed into beads. Three different colours are achieved as the women turn some of the beads a rich brown by frying them or black by roasting them.

Roemer and Haber have made a long-term commitment to the Bushmen: the goal of the project is to create a sustainable business for the tribe that will generate a continuing work and income. London's Dover Street market is selling the pieces and there are plans to bring out a winter collection this year.

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Words

Natasha Lyons

quotes story

"We didn't want to tell them: this is how you do it," says Haber, who instigated the project after seeing jewellery bought back from Botswana

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