“How much for these earrings?” I held up a pair of tear drop shaped teal blue beaded earrings.
“Two thousand shillings,” he said, a price of nearly twenty four dollars. I guffawed,
“For those?” He picked them up off the cardboard display, and clicked the beads together,
“You see, they are amber,” um, amber is orange, not teal blue. Eventually through the course of haggling I walked away paying five hundred shillings for those earrings and a beaded key chain, about six dollars. I still use the key chain and still wear the earrings, they have withstood some wear and I still remember them as my first bargaining challenge in the market while we lived in Kenya. Whenever we braved a market my collection of jewelry rose exponentially. One of the wares that Africa does offer the world market place is colorful unique jewelry.
I did always wonder where, exactly the goods came from. Some of the vendors told you that they made them themselves, and I believed that just as much as I believed that those earrings were the semi-precious stone amber.
When we grew tired of the haggling we would go to a shop in downtown Nairobi that carried all the wares of the market. The prices were labeled and we knew we weren’t getting taken for a ride. For one Christmas I found some woven handbags, they had good handles and looked perfect for the beach, at about four dollars the price was right, we bought ten of them for family and friends. And one more, of course, for myself. While packing it later with towels for just such a trip to the beach I found something inside the basket I hadn’t noticed before,
“Hey, Scott, look at this,” I held the basket out to him and pointed to a label I found.
“Made in China,” he read. So it seems that some of the precious items sold in the market aren’t from around here either.
When I heard about Noonday Collection I was of course intrigued. Noonday is a new company that is selling jewelry and accessories that are actually made overseas, by real people, living real lives, in real poverty. Many of the designs that I saw reminded me of the jewelry that I haggled over in Kenya. Only with Noonday I know that my money is going to help real people not fill the coiffers of a businessman back in China. The prices are more than I paid in the market but I don’t mind that, considering that you are getting handmade jewelry, that you know was handmade. Noonday carries some jewelry with a stone called chrysoprase, I’d never seen the beautiful sea green stone before, so I looked it up. In the margin on Google I saw a chrysoprase necklace being sold at Barney’s for $799. Noonday’s offering is $299. So I might not buy a three hundred dollar necklace, but it helps to know that the equivalent is much more expensive.
When I learned that the ambassadors from Noonday also will make money off of the trunk shows that they do I was originally uncomfortable. Shouldn’t this just all be non-profit? Then I thought about it…one of the things that rang true for me when we returned from Kenya was that Africa does not take place on the global market place on a large scale. For the most part we are pouring money into the continent and they are not selling and exporting the goods that they do have. So with Noonday we all benefit, the jewelry makers are making a profit, and so are the ones selling the jewelry.
The "Olivia Necklace is so named because a woman that started making jewelry for Noonday was at the point of poverty where she thought that she was going to have to give up her child for adoption. Her job with Noonday allowed her to keep her daughter. If that doesn’t give one hope I don’t know what does.