Heritage Hawaiian Jewelry

Hawaiian jewelry
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Hawaiian Jewelry: A Lesson in Beauty and History

I’ve always loved bracelets. They are my favorite pieces of jewelry because they are so noticeable when you move your arms. I love them so much that I requested a wedding bracelet instead of a wedding ring when I got married. I don’t wear it anymore because it may be beautiful, but it wasn’t created to last a lifetime. 

That’s not the case for the hefty bangles in gold or silver I noticed on the wrists of local wahine of all ages here in Hawaii. These bangles were so different from what I was used to, and were so distinctively Hawaiian. They boasted black enamel engraving, floral-inspired textures, and a touch of glamor mixed with island earthiness. 

Beginning With Bracelets

And, Hawaiian jewelry has a deep history. Bracelets go back to 1862 when Queen Lili’uokalani, who was interested in all things English, had the first one commissioned. She thereby set in motion a fashion fad that has stayed to this day.

Hawaiian Jewelry Today

Heritage Hawaiian jewelry may have started with bracelets, but it has expanded to all types of jewelry. 

You can find pearl jewelry, something very popular here in Hawaii, that includes rings and amazing strands. Gold pieces come in yellow, white, and a very nice rose, my favorite. I love seeing how the heritage designs can work in necklaces, earrings, charms, and even cell phone charms.

A customer tries on a locally made bracelet at the Made in Hawaii Festival. At the Made in Hawaii Festival, you will have the chance to meet local artists and shop for many different locally made gifts and foods - all in one place.
A customer tries on a locally made bracelet at the Made in Hawaii Festival.

And then there is the engraving – distinctive to this style – in traditional black enamel, plus other colors if desired, marking your piece with your name, initials, or special wording. This is what gives the jewelry its timelessness and produces pieces that are passed down to generations.

There are many Hawaiian jewelry stores and sources for heritage pieces around the state. Our favorite was the Philip Rickard Honolulu in the Royal Hawaiian Center. But Mr. Rickard retired, and the store closed, leaving us with memories of the fantastic knowledge he had about Hawaiian Jewelry. 

Local stores like Na Hoku Jewelers and Maui Divers may have a small collection of traditional Hawaiian jewelry, and you can also find pieces online.

Want to learn more about Hawaiian creations? Get great info about Hawaiian quilts here!