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African jewelry is designed to be eye-catching and colorful. However, it is traditionally not meant to be purely decorative in nature. African men and women wear jewelry for protection, fertility, strength, and as a sign of tribal identity, to display the wearer's status (economic and social) and his or her history. In some tribes, women wear different beads before and after marriage. In fact, some husbands give their new wives bracelets, necklaces, or belts to show that they are newlyweds. Unmarried women wear colorful beads to catch the eye of eligible men in the tribe.

Source: http://www.ebay.com/gds/Your-Guide-to-Buying-African-Jewelry-/10000000177628105/g.html