Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Blackwood Espirala Ring from Contempora Collection
With the exception of three short weeks, California’s Santa Monica Beach is graced with nearly nonstop sunshine.  

Well-groomed sands make for great fun-in-the sun, lounging and kicking back.  California is also home to featured jewelry designer Alexandra Amaro.

Within Amaro’s classically styled bead and gemstone jewelry are centuries-old remnants of trade and commerce. 

Authentic African trade beads and African hardwood are central components of her earthy, stylish handmade jewelry collections.

“Over the years dozens of ships sank off the Coast of Mozambique Island,” says Amaro.  “The ships spilled trade items into the shallow waters of the Indian Ocean such as pottery, glass beads, ivory and coins.

Today when the tides are low, local boys on the island dig in the exposed sand flats for the remnants of these treasures.  There will come a day when the Mozambique Island trade beads are no longer available; until then I hope that by paying a fair price to the bead boys I can make a small difference in their lives.”

While working in Mozambique—where she lived for five years—as an international development consultant, Amaro loved to indulge her jewelry making hobby.  By the time she was ready to return to the USA in 2009 however, she was a “serious jewelry designer with a business consulting and translating hobby on the side.”

Quelimane Necklace with Sandalwood and Mahogany
Beads from Contempora Collection
Amaro brings a contemporary twist to an African aesthetic.  Outlines are streamlined, pared down but the beauty of mahogany beads and Blackwood or Sandalwood discs accented with lush green malachite, carnelian, lapis lazuli, sterling silver beads or small gold chains can add pizazz to a saucy denim skirt or beautifully accentuate a bridal gown.

“I strive to source gemstones only from ethical, conflict-free sources.  All of the gemstones I use are from suppliers accredited by the Gemological Institute of America or an equivalent international body.

Sr. José is one of Mozambique’s many talented woodworkers and he hand turns and polishes the Blackwood discs of my signature Espirala Ring.  I am of Italian descent and I lived in Brazil for a time as an exchange student. 
Zambeze Earrings with Sandalwood and Green
Tourmaline from Contempora Collection

I create fusion designs inspired by the cultures, colors and people I have encountered during my travels. 

I am currently pursuing a BFA in Jewelry and Metal Arts at the California College of Arts.  

My future plans include launching new collections with increased metalsmithing and lapidary work.”
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