The profession of jewelry designer is highly respected in Afghan society and guarantees economic independence. Jewelry design is very demanding and requires certain talents.

Two arts merged into one tradition

Traditionally, this profession consists of two crafts: Gold/silversmithing and stone cutting. At the NAZO center, therefore, a silversmith and a stone cutter teach. The students learn everything important about the gemstones of Afghanistan and their processing into jewelry, but also into belts, bags, wall hangings, etc.

Female Pioneers in Afghanistan

Our students are the first jewelry designers in Afghanistan. They combine their silver jewelry with luminous stones: deep blue Afghan lapiz lazuli; blue-green Iranian turquoise; brown-red carnelian, bottle-green serpentine, ebony-black onyx, etc. They learned to make bead necklaces from women of northern Afghanistan. To date, 45 female jewelry designers have been trained.

Interesting facts


Even today, jewelry is the only possession that women in Afghanistan are allowed to have without any objection. It functions as a hedge against the unpredictability of life, such as economic ruin, divorce, old age, and so on.

With marriage, the woman leaves her family and becomes a member of a new family, that of her husband. She can now expect nothing from her family of origin.

So that the bride does not move “unworthily” into the house of her husband, this “dignity” is negotiated before the marriage. The future husband must not only pay for the wedding, but also give his bride gifts – precious gifts that are negotiated beforehand between the two families. A large part of these bridal gifts consists of jewelry. It is her possession, which she alone can dispose of. In times of need, it has enabled many a family to survive.


Traditionally, a master has a maximum of 3 journeymen, almost always his own children or their cousins. Very rarely it happens that he accepts a stranger as an apprentice. These students work for the master for up to 10 years and thus take over his artistry. As a rule, he does not teach his students. The student must “learn” the knowledge and experience from his master.

The master has a reluctance to impart his skill to the student. His envy towards the students has a long history in Afghanistan and is now accepted as a given. This envy sometimes goes so far that the master does not take on a student at all.
Against this background, it was very difficult to recruit teachers for the jewelry department. Added to this was the fact that the students were women.

Location: NAZO center in Ahmad Shah Baba Mena, Kabul

Time Period: 2011-2014

Trainees: 30

Studio: 11 former students + trainees

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