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Berber jewelry: what it is and where to find it

Berber jewelry encompasses some of the most interesting pieces of craftsmanship, not just for their aesthetic value but also for their symbolic significance. In this article, we provide key insights into these objects that you will encounter during your trip and can purchase as souvenirs filled with meaning and power.

Materials and Properties of Berber Jewelry

Berber jewelry is mostly made of silver, as gold is considered to have an evil nature in this culture. This silver is often marked with the figure 925, indicating that it consists of 92.50% silver and 7.50% other metals. In addition to silver, some pieces may feature inlays or complementary details of other materials, such as coral, amber, or ebony. Rare minerals are also used, which, due to their characteristics, are considered special, like amazonite and carnelian.

A detail worth noting is that Berber jewelry is attributed with magical, protective, and even medicinal properties, according to popular belief. For instance, silver is often considered a remedy against rheumatism, while amber is believed to guard against colds, in addition to having aphrodisiac powers and protecting against witchcraft and the evil eye. Coral, on the other hand, is seen as a source of fertility.

Another key aspect is that Berber jewelry is closely related to women: they are the ones who most frequently wear these pieces, as well as the ones responsible for gathering and preserving family collections. It is customary for a woman to inherit jewelry from her mother until her marriage. For the wedding, the bride typically receives a set of jewelry as a dowry from the mother or sister of the groom, similar to the tyafer, and she then keeps these pieces for the rest of her life.

Some of these jewels hold so much material and symbolic value that they are reserved for major occasions, such as weddings or banquets. Others, however, are worn on a daily basis, extending their power throughout the year.

What Berber Jewelry to Buy

There is a wide variety of Berber jewelry, suited to different parts of the body and specific functions. In fact, just as the materials have healing and protective properties, each piece of jewelry is also associated with a magical belief. Here is a brief list of jewelry you can buy, along with explanations:

  • Necklaces: A piece of Berber jewelry worn not only by women but also men, attributed with talismanic functions.
  • Bracelets: Some of these are quite wide.
  • Fibulas: Brooches used to fasten certain clothing items, often featuring imaginative shapes and lavish decoration.
  • Earrings: Typically have a hanging design, adding to their spectacle and elegance.
  • Anklets: Ankle bracelets, though with a more subtle and discreet design than bracelets.

Where to Buy Berber Jewelry

While you might find Berber jewelry at tourist spots throughout the country, it is more abundant and authentic in areas where the Amazigh population is most representative. Particularly in the south of the country, across the vast territory beyond the Atlas Mountains, in small desert towns, and in coastal Atlantic locations. A special mention goes to Tiznit, a town near Agadir where the production of Berber jewelry, especially in silver as a legacy of the work performed by Jewish silversmiths in the past, is widespread. Their pieces enjoy enormous prestige, and this activity still represents an important source of employment and wealth for its craftsmen today. Visiting its silver souk is a real tourist experience for those who have the time and reach this humble destination.

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