Kazuri, which means small and beautiful in Swahili, is hand-painted ceramic jewellery made in Kenya. Every bead which makes up a necklace or bracelet is shaped by hand by one of the 300 local women employed by Kazuri. The beads are then kiln fired once, glazed and fired again before being strung. Founded by the late Lady Susan Wood, Kazuri is still located where she first started creating employment for struggling single mothers back in 1975. The workshop is in Karen, named after Karen Blixen of ‘Out Of Africa’ fame, on part of the farm once owned by her. Karen, a beautiful area just a few miles outside Nairobi, lies under the Ngong Hills between Kenya’s bustling capital and the spectacular Rift valley. The women employed by Kazuri receive a salary of 500 Kshs (Kenyan Shillings) per day for 7 hours, 3 times more than the average wage in Kenya in the agricultural sector. Full medical cover is offered to employees and their relatives: 80% of medical costs in public hospitals are supported by Kazuri, a clinic is located within the grounds of the property for basic medical care, prevention of AIDS and family planning. Through its social commitment and contribution in creating jobs for women in difficulty, it is natural that the company enjoys the label IFAT (International Fair Trade Association) in recognition of its social commitments to Fairtrade. This makes Kazuri a very different company.
In an age of mass-produced goods, Kazuri jewellery stands out as a little bit different. As every piece of jewellery is handmade, every one is unique. Indeed, many pieces take on the quirks and trademarks of the individual people who shape the beads, paint them or string them, giving them soul as well as beauty. Many Kazuri styles are named after areas, tribes and other features of the Kenyan landscape; evocative names that resonate with the organic nature of the clay that comes from its earth. So a Kazuri piece is more than an item of jewellery, it’s a piece of Kenya.