This year at the Oscars, it was not the gigantic gems or the seemingly endless parade of Harry Winston and Cartier that caught our eyes, it was Jessica Biel’s tribal-inspired necklace. Tribal jewelry is not normally featured on formal occasions, but Biel’s gold-feather statement piece was a refreshing sight.
Seeing Biel’s necklace at the Oscars was enough for Dallas appraiser / estate jewelry buyer Patti Geolat. She has had tribal jewelry on the brain for weeks and has been watching it pop up in jewelry shows across the country.
“The term ‘tribal’ seems limited to me,” says Geolat. “When people hear ‘tribal jewelry,’ I think most of the time they picture African, Nepal, Middle Eastern, Indian, or Native American jewelry, but I think it can be so much more than that. I think we can push that boundary; expand that definition.”
The definition of tribal in itself sounds a little old fashioned. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a social group comprising numerous families, clans, or generations together with slaves, dependents, or adopted strangers.”
At its most basic, jewelry can be any adornment worn to enhance the beauty of the human body, and human beings have been decorating themselves since caveman days. Tribal jewelry, at its most basic, adds meaning to these ornamentations — identifying which collective the wearer belongs to, which religion they identify with, or even (as in Ayurvedic medicine) which ailments they hope to cure. As civilization evolved, jewelry developed with it, and craftsmen perfected their jewelry-making techniques. Certain stones continued to be prized over others and metals were purified, eventually bringing jewelry-making to modern times.
These days, retailers are noticing that some of their younger clients are not as concerned with buying brand names. These buyers are generally keen to develop their own style, one that reflects their identity, as opposed to following trends.
Generally, these buyers are looking for jewelry that echoes their heritage, religion, or places they have visited on their travels. According to Geolat, using jewelry to inform others of your identity in this way can be considered tribal. World travelers, and members of a certain culture or religion can identify others just by their jewelry. One of us, it says.
Do you have something similar to this? If so, please give us a call if you need it appraised.
Stay tuned for images of some tribal inspired items that are coming into our collection soon!
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