New mother-of-pearl jewellery line launched in Fiji

22/09/2014

A new line of mother-of-pearl jewellery handcrafted by members of Fiji’s Ba Women’s Group was launched earlier this month at the well-known Tappoo ‘Market Place’ retail outlet in Suva, Fiji.  <!--more-->

Comprising 20 variations of fashion wear and 14 variations of everyday wear items, the initiative is part of a project titled ‘Assessing potential for developing the mother-of-pearl (MOP) handicraft sector in Fiji: Empowering women’s groups and livelihood development in Fiji’. The project is under the aegis of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative (ACIAR/PARDI).

For the first time since the PARDI research project began in 2013, fashion connoisseurs and retail representatives have had the opportunity to view and purchase the jewellery, and discuss being part of the new venture.

Traditional and modern artistry are integrated into the new jewellery designs with dominant use of the MOP shell. Products are made from local materials to enhance ’Fiji-made’ accreditation. The uniqueness and quality of these products position them in the premium value of more than FJ$100 for the fashion range and about $FJ50 for everyday wear.

The Suva launch means this range of jewellery items is now available for purchase by the general public. Interest is such that in addition to the original stockists, Tappoo, other retail outlets would like to stock the jewellery and cruise ships are happy for Ba Women to sell products to tourists visiting Fiji.

The ACIAR/PARDI project has identified an annual market value of some F$4 million for Fiji’s MOP handicrafts and pearl sector of which currently only about 10 per cent is met by local production.

In the lead up to the MOP launch, the project involved a rolling series of workshops on MOP jewellery product development. Local women’s group, The Ba Women’s Forum (BWF), and the local Ba Town Council have worked closely with PARDI, jewellery designer, Marie Erl, and Fiji-based fashion designer, Robert Kennedy.

This project is providing an excellent opportunity to empower mature-aged, unemployed women and men. Trainees have achieved a basic level of capability, and will participate in further training to expand their jewellery making skills and develop their business and marketing capacity.

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