Still on my quest for familial knowledge. I've found this absolutely beautiful book that must be 'the last word' on Tuareg jewelry, and it is available from the author Helene E. Hagan, or at Amazon.com and other places.
When I began looking at the work in this book, my first thought was exactly the same as my thought about our necklace - you may recall I am trying to remember the details of a necklace that was in our family - and that first thought was, 'this is just a bunch of scratched lines - is that all this kind of jewelry is?' So, that was my first clue that the jewelry in this book was indeed related to our necklace.
There is one big difference between the jewelry in this book and ours, and that is that the jewelry in the book is exceedingly beautiful. As I recall our pieces - we had others besides the necklace, although the necklace remains most vividly in my memory - my memory tells me that our pieces were much more plain and, as it were, crude by comparison. In fact, I wondered if the necklace might be something other than Tuareg, perhaps gypsy or Native American. A lady on the Nanticoke page wears a coin necklace, for example, although it is hard to see. When I asked my mother why there was a necklace made of coins among her costume jewelry, she said very dismissively, 'oh, the old-time people used to make them like that.' 'Who were the old-time people?' No answer. The Delaware Moors were apparently related to the Nanticoke at one time, so I wondered if perhaps our coin necklace might be one of theirs.
I found it interesting to discover through this book that the Tuareg had their own alphabet. Finding this out gave me a little bit of a 'tickle' because as a child I had developed an alphabet that somewhat resembled the Tuareg one. I used to sit on our porch writing and/or translating bits of writing into my special alphabet. Just a kid thing to do. I know this is not very significant, but it's one of those peculiar little synchronicities that occur in life that entertain your mind with 'possibilites.' A while back I tried to recreate some of the letters. Here's what I came up with: