Juliana Hughes was presented with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Award of Excellence for Handicrafts, for her commitment to ecology — utilizing seeds and beads, found in her homeland of Guyana, to create fine jewelry.
Hughes, who owns Jah Works in Georgetown, said she has embraced President David Granger’s green initiative by using powis eye seeds, buck bead, and donkey eye seeds to create unique pieces.
Her designs are also created with the seeds of the exotic awara, and cokrite — loved fruits of Guyana. She plans to add monkey apple and Locus seeds to her collection.
Hughes spoke passion about her affinity for nature and love of working with wood, bamboo and the shak shak seeds that are linked with copper wire to complete her collection of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. She also fabricates handbags from the coconut shell.
The hardworking craftswoman, who was also a teacher and market vendor, told Caribbean life at a recent exposition in Georgetown, that her fervor for arts and craft design has been a 25-year journey that included working in neighboring Brazil and Surnime, and French Guiana where she perfected her skills.
Before spending a decade in these countries, Hughes skillfully crocheted outfits, and eventually expanded her collection to include tie-dyed outfits, hats, bags, and shawls, and over many years showcased her work at expositions around Georgetown.
Joining the Rastafari faith certainly inspired the artisan whose Rasta colors are blended in many of her pieces of leather goods, and jewelry that Hughes takes pride in creating. They are one of a kind creation, some with semi-precious stones.
Jah Works, whose mission is to make Guyana’s seeds beautiful and marketable, is located in the heart of Georgetown, where Hughes and her husband Wesley George customize fine jewelry suited to both locals and tourist alike.
Despite, that she is a small business owner, at times challenged to compete with some shoppers who prefer “gold” jewelry, Hughes presses on to ensure her exquisite collections are seen at trade shows in Guyana (GuyExpo), the Caribbean, and in North America. The Guyana Arts Craft Association has helped her to expand her presence in the marketplace.
She wants Jah Works to become a household name, and is working to maintain Guyana’s natural image through her craft. This, she added, will become a reality when she expands this concept and her business to the rural Linden Soesdyke Highway where she hopes to attain land, and where nature abounds.
Jah Works Jewelry is on Facebook and can be reached via email – JAHWO