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In ‘Afra Amba Stories‘ Afra’s muses talk about their relationship to jewelry. Most memories are great, some are painful. But mostly it’s clear that jewelry means a lot in the daily life of these inspiring people. Next up, charming Cherry (@cherainesoraya).
It is not surprising that Cheraine (Amsterdam) – better known as Cherry – is a much sought after model, due to her freckles, golden tooth and distinct style. She cannot live without jewelry: “If I look in the mirror without wearing any jewelry, I think: ‘Yikes, something is missing’.”
Your favorite Afra Amba piece?
“The Beloved small. It’s hard to choose just one, I like all these little designs. But the little pointy hangers of the Beloved are simply the cutest.”
Always had this jewelry obsession?
“As a kid I wore a lot of bling, partly because I’m half-Surinamese. That culture is often all about necklaces, rings, earrings… When I went to the dance academy, I had to take off my jewelry every class so I just stopped wearing any. After this, I rediscovered jewelry and now I cannot live without it anymore.”
You cannot live without jewelry anymore?
“When I look in the mirror without wearing any jewelry, I just think to myself: ‘Yikes, something is missing’.”
Tell us about your phases.
“I really had some phases indeed haha. One phase, all I wore was black, also my tunnels and other jewelry. Now I’m into gold, a new style for me which also goes well with more feminine clothing.”
Could jewelry have emotional value?
“Not necessarily. I do feel some emotion with my grandma’s ring that I wear, but I think jewelry is more a tool to show your own style than a thing with emotional value.”
Have you ever lost a piece of jewelry?
“As a kid I once lost a white gold earring in the swimming pool. My father looked like he saw a ghost when he looked at me. Then I had to turn every piece of jewelry in, in case I’d lose the rest too haha.”
Mix silver and gold?
“Sometimes I wear gold on one hand and silver on the other. But my ears are always both silver or both gold.”
What do you wear on a daily basis?
“I just wear one set of jewelry non-stop, sometimes even for a year. After my gold phase for instance, I rediscover silver. Then I switch to my silver jewelry package which was just laying around until then.”
Any other jewels we should know about?
“I have a golden tooth, but I always forget that. Sometimes people look at me very intensely and then I think: ‘Do I have a booger?’. But then they ask me if I have a golden tooth and then I’m very relieved haha.”
Nella is a Dutch-Burundian model and she’s one of Afra’s dearest muses. She is well decorated with silver and ink. Nella lives in Amsterdam but she grew up in Burundi, Africa. She talks about her strong relationship with jewelry and why she never leaves the house without wearing a piece of jewelry. “It just brings joy. Jewelry has a very positive vibe.”
What was your first piece of jewelry ever?
“That was probably a golden earring when I got my ears pierced at a young age. In my tribe in Burundi it is customary that children are pierced at a very young age. Jewelry, especially gold, stands for wealth and beauty. Everyone wears a lot of jewelry and accessories there. In that way you can show from which tribe you are, for instance.”
Accessories seem to play an important role there?
“Certainly, children also wear headbands for shaping their head. In my tribe almost everyone is bald, so the shape of your head is important. People wrap a headscarf tight around their head and then sleep in a certain way. Because of colonization the habit of this ‘skull elongation’ is abolished, so now you only still see it in East Africa in some kind of way. Also scarification is something that’s done there. This is the process of decorating your body by having figures burnt or cut into your skin. That’s so beautiful, I still want to do that someday at my tribe in Africa. I don’t know if it’s even possible to do that here in the Netherlands, haha.”
Which jewelry have emotional value for you?
“Jewelry that I got from a special person is always precious to me. Often a piece of jewelry also brings me back to the moment that I bought it in a special or random place, it can bring out the special feeling of that moment. This ring, for example, which looks like an armor for my finger, was made by a Japanese designer for my birthday. These are beautiful memories. I also wear a lot of jewelry with animal shapes, such as this elephant ring. In fact, simply because I love animals.”
Unpleasant experience with a piece of jewelry?
“Well, I had those micodermal piercings, those with plates under my skin in my arm. Those piercings were the eyes of my Hello Kitty tattoo. I once wore a mesh shirt and when I took it off, both Hello Kitty eye piercings were stuck in my mesh shirt. It was bleeding and the plates were ripped out from under my skin. At that moment I was completely done with those piercings, haha.”
And a great memory with jewelry?
“The wedding parties in my tribe! Jewelry plays a major role there, because people wear items that make sounds while dancing. For example something around your ankle with bells. When a wedding is coming up, everyone goes to the market and picks out what they are going to wear in terms of jewelry. I really like music and parties. At such weddings, everyone comes together to dance with their noisy pieces of jewelry. That’s why jewelry has a strong connotation with happiness and love to me, very positive.”
Your favorite piece from Afra Amba?
“The Venom! I wear this necklace every day and night, in the shower and even during boxing, haha. I can count on one hand how many times I have taken it off. This necklace is just so old skool and timeless at the same time. I can wear it with everything and it’s never too much. I often put the necklace in my shirt too, so there’s a small detail above my shirt. The shine is just the right amount.”
A life without jewelry?
“Absolutely not, haha. Certainly not. I never take a step outside the door without wearing any jewelry, it doesn’t matter what it is. For example, I wear a pant chain around my neck or padlocks in my ears. Jewelry really is the finishing touch.”