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.


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  • I am 76 and of Antiguan descent and have word silver bangles since I was born as did my daughter my granddaughters and my great granddaughters, they define our culture and heritage.💖

    Janice Watson on
  • I bought some very beautiful gold jewelry in the past . Would like you to bring back some.

    SAMAROO on
  • Love your bangle’s

    Darlene Little on
  • I’m interested in receiving some catalogs books or brochures to sell you items personally if possible

    Karen Edwards on
  • love your jewelry

    dianne mills on
  • Thanks for the info,I didn’t know my bracelets name were cocoa pods,I’ve been wearing them over 50 years now and I have the Taj Mahal,I love then just got your web site from my cousin.i will be ordering some for Xmas

    Rose H on
  • I have been wearing my heavy plane fist bangles now for about 40 years now . Very recently one of the fists come off so I’ve been searching where to fine another pair and came across caribbijou jewelry. I am very very impressed with your craftsmanship and will be making a purchase soon of the extra extra heavy cocoa pod bangle a pair. The cocoa pod will be a very special gift to myself seeing that my Grandfather grow cocoa in Grenada the West Indies . Thanks Caribbijou for helping me show off my heritage!

    Seppy Septimus Andrews on
  • How can I order

    Marcia Thomas on
  • Use to wear them in the 60s and my girls did too. Just bought some and I just love them. Been looking for them for awhile and stumbled across this site. Thank you and will order for my granddaughters.

    Andrea on
  • Thank you for the history lesson. I never knew there was a story behind the bracelet and their image is derived from the cocoa-pods grown in the West Indies, going back to slavery. It’s the same for the slaves who lived in the south.. They were given the membranes/intestines from the pig..They made meals from them (Chittlings, Hog head cheese. Liver pudding,, etc.). I knew I admired them and always wanted them since I was a teenager. Now I am finally able to do so.

    Lynn D Jordan on

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