Imagine going most of your childhood and early adulthood attracted to beads and the art of jewellery making but never knowing why. Envisage how empowering it was to have this passion explained in one simple, previously unseen, article that told the story of a family ancestry steeped in the bead merchant business. This was the epiphany that made me realise that I had to surrender control of my destiny, for crafting beautiful beaded jewellery was bigger than me - it was in my bloodline.
Whilst researching the bead making trade in my role as jewellery designer, I stumbled on an article about Teshie House in Ghana and I was instantly and unexplainably drawn to. It was only on reading the article that it was unearthed that the house was my grandfather’s and was actually a premise for traditional bead making, complete with a kiln and a clay oven. From that moment my unique signature was cemented, I would create wonderfully modern jewellery that would honour my far-flung roots and heritage.
Born in London, I take contemporary British design elements and blend them with materials that reflect my Ghanaian heritage - creating the artful, urban Katiico collection. One of the greatest elements in the collection is Aggry Beads, the very bead that my ancestors used to produce – which were considered so valuable that they once substituted currency in Ghana (and which are still held in high esteem in the country today).
What Are Aggry Beads?
Aggry Beads are with the people of Ghana throughout every stage of their life – worn by both genders. There are beads for naming ceremonies (with beads given to babies for protection), beads for the transition into puberty and even Royal beads interspersed with gold. Made from ground-down glass powder, which is than melted into liquid form and then moulded into beads. Each Aggry Bead is completely unique and made from the same process that has held strong since the 1600s.
At Katiico, a Prince’s Trust Supported Business, I am driven by the passion to remain authentic to the history behind Aggry Beads whilst using jewellery as a platform to be emotive and depict my own steep sense of heritage. I am driven through the want to tell a story about Ghana culture to my daughter, to everyone’s daughters.
Because the story is bigger than me, it’s bigger than even Katiico.
Kate Bruce, Founder and Designer- Katiico Jewellery x