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The Maasai Ladies Project
The Maasai Ladies Project is a Tanzanite Foundation micro finance project, set up to offer woman who live close to the tanzanite mining area an opportunity to build on their cultural traditions, learn a new craft and earn money to support their families.
Formed in 2012 the women craft unique wire wrap and tumbled tanzanite jewellery, which is now sold internationally.
Twelve women were initially tutored in the art of wire wrap jewellery by renowned gem carver and jewellery designer Naomi Sarna. Learning to work with pliers was new to the ladies, but the project builds upon the Maasai tradition of beaded jewellery making and the stunning results have been well received internationally. Many designs feature the coil as a central motif – symbolising a woman who’s son is a warrior, a prestigious symbol in Maasai society.
Mining company TanzaniteOne donate the tanzanite gemstones which the ladies use. A feature of the tanzanite used is the high number of natural inclusions - which form a feature when the stones are tumbled into organic shapes for the ladies to integrate into their designs.
Meeting three times a week, the project offers an opportunity to buy food and pay for school fees. Each woman has between four and ten children – not to mention grandchildren !
The project is run by generous donors – like staff at Tanzanite One who tumble the stones and photographer Adam Woodward who documents the ladies work and manages the books. Others like the team at TV channel 'The Liquidation Channel' run auctions and donate materials for the project. All proceeds are invested back into the project.
Please contact Hayley Henning if you would like to buy one of these special pieces or contribute to the project with a donation of materials.
For the latest from the Ladies , visit their facebook page.