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We started making necklaces in early 2016 to use our collection of Buddhist amulets - rather than just selling them as Thais do on a chain or thong, we thought it would be nice to create a cool looking necklace to hang them on. But after making twenty or so, we became attracted to the idea of recreating antique necklaces from Tibet, India, Thailand, Morocco and central Africa, rather than just making necklaces in whatever combination we thought up. So we delved into some books and found a fantastic array of necklaces to recreate.
Now, naturally, recreating antique Tibetan jewellery means sometimes using big pieces of high quality turquoise and red coral, both of which are hard to find and expensive to use. And other materials can be impossible to get - how many sources are there for the bones of your ancestors, after all. Or the teeth of yaks? So when we say recreate, we don't mean slavishly copy. We mean use the colours, patterns and combinations that are used in the antiques as a guide. The real beauty of an ancient Moroccan necklaces from the Taureg tribe is not in the particular material (since they used what they could find where they lived) but in the combination of colours, sizes and the patterns with which they were assembled.
So we use the antiques as guides. We use the same materials if we can find them, we use the same colours and we put the necklaces together in the same patterns (colour, size etc) as much as we can. If we have to, we substitute materials, reduce sizes, even change colours, as long as we think we aren't straying too far from the original. Ostrich shells are used in many African pieces, but, while we have some ostrich shell beads, we don't have many, so a different kind of shell gets used.
For instance, here's an image we found of an antique necklace. It's maybe ostrich shells, agate and blue glass.
and this is what it inspired us to make, using bone instead of ostrich shell, chrysoprase and red coral
While we changed all the materials, we used the pattern, sizes and colour contrast from the original to design our replica.