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Where to Find the Best Handmade Jewelry and Purses in South America

Updated on March 11, 2013

The Otavalo Market in Ecuador

The best handmade purses and the best handmade jewelry are handcrafted in South America. For centuries the indigenous people of many of the countries of South America have used locally available natural products to handcraft a variety of treasures. These people were originally making these handmade goods for their personal consumption. After producing these goods for many generations, the French, Spanish and the Americans discovered these artistic creations. So After a while these indigenous people began to sell some of their handmade goods to tourists. All of these handmade treasures are all classified as "Artesanias."

In the Andes Mountains in Ecuador there is a town, Otavalo Ecuador, where the town’s women weave rugs and tapestries, sew and hand make purses and wallets, and make handmade Jewelry. The Otavalenos are Andean Indians, and they are the most skilled people producing these artesanias. They also produce beautiful trays and hoards of alpaca products.

Handmade purses are made of many different materials. They use wool, yute, molas, cotton, cana flecha, and leather. Because of the diverse growing regions of some of these countries, especially Ecuador and Colombia, there are many different fibers and raw materials available to produce artesanias.

These handmade purses are of the highest quality and they draw a lot of attention because they are unique and many times very colorful. The wool purses are the most plentiful and yute purses run a close second. The handmade purses utilizing mola panels can be some of the most striking designs. Molas along with cana flecha in the same purse also makes a striking design for a purse. The purses with embroidered flower designs are some of the most intricate available. All of these different purses are very well color coordinated with natural and vibrant colors.

The jewelry is equally diverse and beautiful. Bracelets and earrings are made of a material called "tagua.” Tagua is a marvelous material to make jewelry.” Bull horns are also used to make earrings. Handmade earrings made from bull horns are difficult to find, but they can be found in Otavalo Ecuador if one knows where to look. There is an indigenous Indian gentleman who employs his family to hand make these very unique earrings.

Many of these products are made in the Andes Mountains of Colombia, but they are made in scattered communities and they are harder to find. Many of the wool and yute purses are made in Colombia. Some of the indigenous Colombians purchase mola panels in Panama and incorporate these molas into leather, usually suede, or cana flecha purses. Both of these designs are very unique and very colorful. They make a lot of their jewelry of tagua, guadua, and cana flecha.

If one were in Colombia, one could find many of these products for sale in the upscale shops in Cali, Medellin, and Bogota. To find a larger variety of these products, one would need to travel to Ecuador. The best towns and cities in Ecuador to purchase these handmade goods are Otavalo, Cotachi, Mitad Del Mundo, and Quito. One can find importers here in the United States and thereby save the cost of traveling to South America.


Handmade Bracelet of Tagua
Handmade Bracelet of Tagua | Source
Handmade Wool Purse
Handmade Wool Purse | Source
Handmade Purse with embroidered flowers
Handmade Purse with embroidered flowers | Source
Handmade Yute Purse
Handmade Yute Purse | Source
Handmade Earrings of bull horns
Handmade Earrings of bull horns | Source


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    • csgibson profile image

      Craig Gibson 5 years ago from Traverse City Michigan

      I did sell them here in Colombia, but I closed my store.

    • Hawaiian Scribe profile image

      Stephanie Launiu 5 years ago from Hawai'i

      Voted up, beautiful, interesting. Thanks for your hub. The items in the photos are intriguing and unique. Do you sell them? Aloha, Stephanie