The Tuareg are also known as the “blue men of the desert” because of the indigo dye of their turbans which rubs off on their skin. They have dominated the Sahara for centuries because of their skill with the camel and knowledge of this inhospitable terrain. Each noble Tuareg family had a jeweler family who made the family decorations: the men made the jewelry and the women the leather work. For nomads, who carry all their goods with them when they move camp in search of pasture for their herds, art must be utilitarian. Ornate leather bags, silver daggers and jewelry are the most prevalent art forms. The work is all hand made without electricity using bellows, forge and hand tools. Some designs are traditional, others a new creation by the jeweler who signs his work in Tifinagh, the written alphabet of the Tuareg. Tifinagh is one of only two written languages ever developed on the continent of Africa.
The necklaces are designed and assembled, mostly in Agadez, Niger the heart of Tuareg country, by artist Leslie Clark who for more than 25 years, has collected the exotic elements from her travels to paint around the world. Proceeds are used in Nomad Foundation projects, helping nomadic populations prosper while preserving their traditions.