A glossary of ethnic jewellery terms

Miao / Hmong

The Miao (Chinese: 苗; pinyin: Miáo; Vietnamese: Mèo or H’Mông; Thai: แม้ว (Maew) or ม้ง (Mong); Burmese: mun lu-myo) is an ethnic group recognized by the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as one of the 55 official minority groups. Miao is a Chinese term and does not reflect the self-designations of the…Continue Reading


An ethnic group of Berber People from the southern Oases of Morocco. Believed to be the descendants of those abandoned at the abolition of slavery.Continue Reading


Beads and pendants are carved from the Horn of Many animals. Jewellery made from Horn originates in many countries.         Image coertesy of creative beadcraftContinue Reading

Khamsa / Hamesh

The hamsa hand (Arabic) or hamesh hand (Hebrew) is an old and still popular apotropaic amulet for magical protection from the envious or evil eye. The words hamsa and hamesh mean “five” and refer to the digits on the hand.Continue Reading

Filed Under: H, K


Heishi (pronounced he-she) is jewelry made from disk-shaped beads of shell (or turquoise, lapis lazuli, and other stones). Each bead begins as a tiny flat piece of shell (or stone). A tiny stringing hole is drilled though the fragment. Many of these jagged pieces are strung together tightly on a wire and are then sanded…Continue Reading


Hammered metals have been formed, shaped, or decorated by a metalworker’s hammer. The surface of hammered metal is covered with crater-like depressions made by a hammer. Many hammered metals are used in jewelry including gold, silver, brass, aluminum, etc  Continue Reading


A hallmark is an official mark (or a series of marks) made in metal that indicates the fineness of the metal and the manufacturer’s mark. For example, a hallmark of 925 indicates 925 parts of silver per 1000 weight. Other hallmarks indicate the maker of the piece and sometimes the year of manufacture. In many…Continue Reading

Hoggar Tuareg

The Tuaregs of Algeria are part of a larger group of Berber-speaking Tuaregs. They are nomads who raise cattle and live in an area that stretches across North Africa. This territory extends from Western Sahara to the northern portion of Western Sudan.Continue Reading


Pre-second century inhabitants, they are likely Afghanistan’s oldest. Their traditional homeland lies in central Afghanistan amid rugged mountains – a wildly beautiful, nearly inaccessible region of craggy peaks and rushing rivers called the Hazarajat. Hazara origins are much debated. Their name is from a Persian word meaning “thousand”.Continue Reading