The Story Behind Cocoa Pod Bangles

Posted by Khadijah Alexander on

I’ve made a lot of jewelry in my lifetime. That’s what happens when you grow up with a jewelry designer for a father and a grandfather. Jewelry making is in my blood.

But it all started with the cocoa pod bangle when I was a teen working in my dad’s workshop over summer break. Little did I know, that experience and many others would shape my own business one day.

In fact, myself and my family has expanded on the design, and now carry cocoa pod earrings to match. It’s an important design to me, and it deserves it’s own blog post.

The cocoa pods have a long, varied history in Caribbean culture, so it only makes sense I use this design in the jewelry I create. But even before me, the cocoa pod is one of the earliest designs West Indians used when making their bangles.

And no, it’s not because West Indian’s love chocolate – I mean, we do like it a lot, but the reason behind the bangles is more complex than that.

When most people think about the cocoa pod, they think about the plantation crop during the days of slavery and the oppression; remnants of a horrifying institution that still causes division today.

I don’t see this when I work on the cocoa pod bangles now, and I didn’t see it in the crop when I was growing up in the Caribbean.

Instead, I saw the greenery of my home, and the people who work the land hard each day to make a honest living. I see their smiles as they walk on the streets. I smell rain falling on the leaves of the trees. I only have fond memories seeing the cocoa plantations on my island, and the cocoa pod now reminds me of home.

Part of this is because when I look at the cocoa pod, I’ve always been proud of the way we took something that was oppressive and leveraged it into an economical benefit when given the chance. Even after slavery was abolished, cocoa plantations remained, and it’s the staple crop on may islands.

To me, the cocoa pod represents the tenacity of the Caribbean people, as well as our complex and at times painful history. It shows we overcome, and then we thrive.

It is a point of pride we can do this as a people. It is us.

SHOP COCOA POD BANGLES

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