Three Young Labels Making Old Methods New Again

Looking to old time tested techniques and designs is a wonderful means of discovering new jewelry markets for your designs. Jewelry designers around the world are tapping into this concept in a big way, they are renewing interest in old even forgotten styles and techniques of producing wearable desirable jewelry.  Manufacturing methods from the past and designs that they create are now becoming modern fashion statements. This article below shows how ancient Indian beadwork can be renewed and made into a saleable piece of distinct jewelry with the style of the ancestors. It covers the use of cloth and wax to create new interest in the old Sri Lankan methods. I takes a look at the East African cultures influences in today’s fashions.

These type of old to new design inspirations are common if one takes the time to look beyond the ordinary and the current trends. In fact an ambitious designer can start a new trend with old manufacturing  using new colors and updating some styles of old world techniques that have been tested by time.

A crop of new jewelry and fashion designers are incorporating practices they discovered while traveling to their ancestral homes. Here, three brands taking cues from ancient methods — and employing artisans trained in them.


Southwestern United States

Etkie’s Sydney Alfonso

When Sydney Alfonso decided to start her jewelry line, Etkie, in 2014, she was living in Istanbul. But instead of using the Turkish kazalik technique of silk wire weaving, she chose to create bracelets and necklaces inspired by traditional Navajo beadwork and created on the same looms that have existed for centuries.

Alfonso is well on her way to achieving her ultimate goal: creating dignified jobs in local communities by honoring their inhabitants’ customs and traditions. The jewelry is made primarily on a Navajo reservation, just 30 minutes from the ranch in New Mexico where Alfonso grew up.


Sri Lanka

The jewelry designers Jessica and Josie Fernando have early memories of visiting batik and woodcarving workshops during childhood trips back to their father’s native Sri Lanka. So when they founded Kinsfolk in 2013, they launched a line of batik scarves. “Sri Lankan batik has a very old history,” Jessica says. “We are completely devoted to preserving the craft of handmade textiles by combining traditional batik methods with a more modern aesthetic.”

Kinsfolk founders Jessica (left) and Josie Fernando

The sophisticated designs, drawn on pure, untreated silk with hot wax before dyeing, are inspired by nearly every corner of Sri Lanka


Ethiopia and Somalia

Twins Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim moved from their native Somalia at age 9 to escape civil war. In 2012, decades later and three years after founding Mataano, they returned to East Africa for Hub of Africa Fashion Week and traveled to the Harari region. “We found ourselves taking photos of indigenous tribes and old architecture, scouring the markets for fabric and print inspiration,” Ayaan says of the trip.


About Rob

I have been designing military coins and jewelry for nearly 40 years now.