I think the first time I noticed them and thought “I want those” was when I saw Coming to America. If my memory serves me correctly — the beautiful, glamorous ladies of Zamunda wore these elegant, ornate hoop earrings. What were those and where could I get some?
Ever since then, I’ve had a yearning to own a pair of Fulani earrings. They are so elegant, so striking, so beautiful. I’ve seen quite a few purveyors online, with prices ranging from around $10 to in the hundreds. How do you know if you’re buying quality jewelry? What are they made from? Will they last? How do you know that these items are fair trade and are made to support a community? I want to know that my coins are supporting the right cause, not leading to exploitation and appropriation. That’s why I was so happy to discover Haby Barry, founder of Fulaba Jewelry. She is a passionate purveyor of high quality, fair trade Fulani jewelry, because it is her culture.
“I am Fulani and a first generation American whose parents are from Guinea… I launched Fulaba with the intent of bringing exclusive handmade jewelry that represents African high culture starting with Fulani earrings and bracelets… My vision is to connect people with timeless pieces that have intrinsic meaning and value deeply rooted in African high culture – the times of African empires and kings and queens,” says Haby.
In case you want to learn more about Fulani culture, click here. Haby gave me a full breakdown in our interview. “The Fulani people are the largest nomadic tribe in the world who migrated east of the Sahara several thousand years ago and heavily populated Sub-Saharan Africa. Most African Americans descend from the Fulani tribe in addition to the Mandingo, Wolof, Akan, Ashanti, Jukun, Yoruba, Bariba, Nupe and Hausa tribes of West Africa.”
I had to ask for some historical context on their remarkable jewelry. So distinctive and beautiful, and surely significant. “Fulani earrings and bracelets have been a tradition of the Fulani people for centuries and women of the royal class wore them in solid gold as a sign of wealth and nobility. They each have a unique twist which in the native Fulani language is called bhoylé for the earrings which have a wider twist and moullé for the bracelets which have a tighter twist. The more gold and jewelry a Fulani woman had the more wealth she had.”
The bracelets are timeless and substantial in style. The earrings are head-turning pieces, evocative of nobility. Haby works hard to ensure the quality of her jewelry, as well as ensuring the price point is reasonable. “We aim to provide our customers affordable luxury. All of Fulaba products are made with precious metals and we test each piece to confirm its contents. These are pieces that are made to last with proper care and cleaning. We are authentic and rooted in the Fulani culture and African culture. Guinea has the highest percentage of Fulani people representing over 40% of the country and that’s where all of Fulaba’s jewelry is handmade. Our product line currently includes Fulani earrings and bracelets that are copper dipped in 22k gold and pure silver and a higher quality version of the Fulani earrings that are heavy gold plated with 23k gold,” she says. Good to know.
I was sent a pair of Fulaba earrings and a bracelet and I can tell you that they feel and look like pure quality. Heavy but not too heavy. Statement making but not distracting. Beautiful. Thank you for the insight, Haby!
Click here to check out Fulaba.com.
To celebrate 2016, Fulaba is offering a 20% discount on all silver Fulani earrings and bracelets the entire month of January! Apply coupon code 2016-silver-sale at checkout. Please note that discount will appear after credit card details have been submitted. Coupon code cannot be applied to gold dipped or gold plated jewelry. Visit www.fulaba.com/shop.