Janie Bates

Almost 30 years ago, I lived in Egypt and became so excited by the hand-made pieces of silver and beads, some of them traded for centuries around the world, that I was inspired to collect and string pieces together to make jewellery which captures the mystery and cultural richness embedded in each piece.

Since then, I have lived in Oman, Jamaica and Uganda and travelled extensively around Africa and the Middle East. I have learned more about the history of jewellery making and beads. For each piece of jewellery, whether a necklace or bracelet, I give the relevant meaning or uses for the different materials I have used. This makes each piece unique and tells its own story.

For instance, in Ethiopia, women wear phallic symbols to enhance fertility. Egyptian Bedouin women wear red glass beads to bring good health. It is believed that wearing amulets with an eye, hand or crescent will protect them against the evil eye and this tradition can be traced back centuries. Even turquoise is used to help protect against the evil eye and often thought to be an antidote for poison and increased health. Scarabs, mostly made from steatite, which is a type of soapstone, were used as tokens of friendship, seals and inscriptions on the back of them helped identify people, belongings or announce weddings.

You can find many mass market reproductions of ethnographic jewellery, and some pieces have been faked to look old, but are not! My jewellery is authentic and unique and I specify what each piece is and where it came from to the best of my ability. I try to buy from sellers who maintain traditional indigenous artistic techniques and designs, as much as possible.

I have been having fun creating new pieces with some of the beautiful old beads that I have collected over the years. I really enjoy all the feedback I get from you, so thank you.

Also, please think of me if you want something special made for someone you love as I always enjoy creating special pieces .

I have introduced a new section to the website of Rarity items. I decided to add this as I have some really special pieces and want them to be separate from the main necklace section.

I have given a little of the vast history of some of the beads and silver pieces to whet your appetite!

I am still hoping to be able to visit Egypt soon. It’s been too long since I had a good rummage around the Khan al Khalili! However George Aziz , the lovely silversmith and his family in Cairo are still busy making wonderful silver beads which he sends over for me. But I miss sitting in his dusty old workshop drinking mint tea and passing a few happy hours with him!