You have probably come across ethnic jewelry without even knowing it. In the jewelry fashion world, many people use this term to describe tribal jewelry. However, ethnic jewelry is not limited only to tribal pieces. In fact, this type of jewelry is about pieces that remind us of certain ethnic groups. We know it can be confusing to understand everything about it when you buy fine jewelry metals. This is why we have prepared an interesting article for you. Read further to find out more about ethnic jewelry.

Tribal vs. ethnic jewelry

In most fashion articles, you will see these terms used as synonyms. But we beg to differ. The word tribal refers to tribes. But not every culture consists of tribes, does it? For example, you can find ethnic jewelry in the UK, and they haven’t had a tribe in a very long time. Another problem with the term “tribal jewelry” is that it makes you think of designs inspired by certain cultures, like the Zulu beads. However, ethnic jewelry is a whole universe because it refers to the culture and traditions specific to each country and people. For example, a bracelet featuring strings of white and red inspired by the Bulgarian spring tradition is a piece of ethnic jewelry. Now that we’ve established that, let’s take a quick history lesson and see how ethnic jewelry became fashionable.

The rise of ethnic jewelry

It was actually two centuries ago when European fashionistas became obsessed with traditional jewelry from the East. We are talking about hair jewelry, veils, and very long earrings. As the interest for this type of jewelry grew more, designers started to incorporate ethnic elements in their designs. Then, of course, came the 60s and the hippie fashion which relies entirely on ethnic jewelry. The ancient nations of Central America, Asia, de Middle East, and Africa came into focus. The hippie fashion helped promote their ethnic jewelry and is part of the reason why we can see these lovely designs everywhere today. Yves Saint Laurent also helped popularize this type of jewelry with an impressive collection back in 1967.

Since then, jewelry designers have used a lot of ethnic elements in their creations. Those big, colorful earrings that you love, the chunky wood beads or your intricate cocktail ring may also be ethnic jewelry pieces, depending on the design.

How to buy ethnic jewelry

If you want to freshen up your jewelry collection with a couple of lovely ethnic pieces, there are some terms you need to know. Yes, we’ve established in the beginning the difference between tribal and ethnic jewelry but this is not all. Here are some other terms which you should remember before you go shopping for this jewelry:

  • Tribal silver refers to stunning artwork from the hills of Thailand. It is actually called Hill Tribe Silver and you can recognize it by the intricate patterns and nature-inspired engravings. However, if you see a piece labeled “tribal silver” that doesn’t present this specific artwork, then it is, probably, a general name used because of a vague resemblance.
  • Bali silver is another term which designers use to describe some ethnic jewelry pieces. Because this term is a very popular one, it doesn’t mean that the jewelry you want to buy comes from Bali. To make sure, ask the seller. Most commonly, these are designer pieces that simply use the term “Bali silver” to describe the inspiration.
  • Ethnic-style jewelry is, of course, inspired by a certain culture. The beauty of this jewelry is that it can be from anywhere. You can buy a piece inspired by the Vikings in Europe or you can get one inspired by the present wedding ceremonies in India.

Is ethnic jewelry for you?

We often think of ethnic jewelry as being statement pieces, but this is not necessarily true. A delicate silver ring with flower engravings from Thailand is also a piece of ethnic jewelry. This is why we believe that any woman should have an ethnic piece in her jewelry box. Draw inspiration from the world around you and wear designs that are specific to far-away cultures. If you want to stick to your own culture, you can do a little bit of research and find which pieces are traditional for you. A common quality that unites all ethnic jewelry is that it features a special design. It is always a great idea to have a unique piece that will make a statement about yourself.

If you enjoyed reading about this jewelry, we invite you to check out our other articles as well. We publish daily articles with style inspiration, the hottest jewelry trends as well as buying and maintenance guides. Browse through our articles and get all the information you need about jewelry. To see Ana Luisa’s fabulous collections of unique fine jewelry, visit our online jewelry shop.

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Ruxandra is a fashion blogger who teaches fashion stumped twenty to thirty somethings how to shop their jewelry boxes for polished new ensembles. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Fashionista, Nylon, and Refinery29.