For Latinx cultures, jewelry bears a powerful pull towards ornamentation that goes back to our Black and Indigenous roots. Gold became an inheritance and symbol of freedom for Afro-Panamanians, who were once labeled 'silver employees.' Aztec jewelry made of gold and semi-precious stones was reserved for royalty and the upper class, including emperors and nobles. To the Inca, gold jewelry not only showed off your social status, it meant that you were closer to God. Fast forward, certain Latinx cultures now wear jewelry to proclaim their religion or carry spiritual protection. It remains a common gift for life events like baptisms, first communions, and birthdays. Newborn girls get their ears pierced as a rite of passage.
Aside from the declaration of our cultures and traditions, famous Latinas have also shown the statements we can make in a society that tells us to stay calladitas. Dolores del Rio and Lupe Velez sported old Hollywood-era baubles. Celia Cruz took the stage with large drop earrings, bold statement necklaces, and glamorous cocktail rings. Maria Felix inspired Cartier to commission a 60-karat necklace of two crocodiles. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took a cue from Sonia Sotomayor and opted to wear gold hoops to her historic swearing-in ceremony.
With this blend of nostalgia, pride, rebellion, and style, it comes as no surprise that so many Latina-founded jewelry brands are hitting the market — and we’ve rounded some of our favorites. From etched-acrylic accessories to earrings with powerful messages, check them out, ahead.
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