Kazuri - which means "small and beautiful" in Kiswahili - began in 1975 as a tiny workshop experimenting in making handmade beads. I discovered them much later, but how I love those beads now! I have bought many of their necklaces, there is so much variety to choose from that I will never get bored buying more of them for more friends and family.
The ceramic beads are made from clay from the Mount Kenya area which is dug by hand. Each bead is shaped by hand by one of the more then 300 women employed by Kazuri without the aid of molds, forms or any modern machinery. The beads are then hand painted in a wide range of designs that shine with a kaleidoscope of African colors. The beautiful beads are painted with high gloss paint, and then glazed to produce a smooth, decorated product.
The beads are known for their Kenyan art that reflects a culture and appeal to a worldwide fashion market. Kazuri's beautifully finished products are made to an international standard and are sold worldwide. Kazuri produces over 5 million beads per year.
As every piece of jewellery is handmade, every one is unique. Indeed, many pieces take on the quirks and trademarks of the women 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.
The full Kazuri story "A String of Beads", a book written by Susan Wood, may be purchased from Kazuri Kenya. You can also visit their 'factory' in Karen.