Beforehand some information regarding these materials to help you understand the concept behind my jewelries, which are very sustainable environmentally as well as socially and economically because:
1. They are renewable ressources.
Of course they are, since they grow in trees and furthermore they are as ecological as they can get, as most of them grows in the wilderness, where the pollution is almost non existent.
2. They bring social benefits to the communities where these seeds grow.
I am purchasing my seeds directly from the local communities and I make sure they get the right price for their tremendous work in gathering, working (peeling, cutting, polishing, drilling these amazing materials and sometimes colouring it). By using them as jewelry making material, the local population is not deprived from using them in their daily diet, as they are quite spread in particular regions. Furthermore, by using these seeds and as jewelry materials, they get much more than when using them only as food.
Now that I talked about the importance of using natural materials, let me introduce to you the two most interesting and beautiful ones, in my opinion, that I am using to create my jewelry. (Between me and you, I could spend a whole day just looking at the natural beauty, sometimes helped a bit by the human hand, of these materials. Or digging my hands into a heap of seeds for jewelry making.)
1. Acai Seed Beads
The Acai (ah-sa-ee) seed comes from a palm tree scientifically called Palmae Euterpe Catinga, native to the Amazon jungle, and found only in certain regions of this abundant rainforest. The genus Euterpe of palm trees are named after a Greek muse, for it’s magestic appearance, as it is a tall, slim palm, with great leaves.
The Acai palm tree is a very important resource to the natives of the Amazon. Different tribes of Amazon Indians have always used this seed as part of their native, hand crafted natural jewelry.
The acai seed is particularly great for natural jewelry because of it’s precise shape, it’s elegant appearance and lustrous texture, plus it is water-resistant. The seed is very hard, so drilling the hole through them is a tough task, but it is worth the work. This versatile seed can be dyed into different shades to allow more possibilities and combination for natural eco friendly jewelry making. You can easily recognize the acai seed thanks to a little black spot in the center of every seed, which just adds to its natural beauty.
Delicious acai berry
Additionally, the Acai Palm produces the acai berry, which has become a very popular super food because it is packed with antioxidants (more powerful than red wine), amino acids and essential omega fatty acids. But not only is it a super nutritious and energizing natural drink,this dark purple berry also tastes delicious, with a thick, exotic berry flavor.
2. Tagua, the vegetal ivory, an amazing material
Tagua nut, also know as vegetable ivory, is the seed of a tree similar to a palm but botanically not belonging to the palmaceus but to the ciclantaceus. Its scientific name is Phytelephas Aequatorialis Macrocarpa.
The fruit of the tagua tree is almost completely round measuring 20 to 50 cm in diameter with a blackish exterior. This fruit, also known as “mococha”, has many locular cavities each containing two or more seeds.
The content of the immature fruit is a tasteless crystalline liquid. When it starts to ripen this turns into a sweet and pleasant milky substance, transforming later to a gelatinous viscous consistency and finally becoming an extraordinarily hard product similar in color, appearance and feel to natural ivory.
Tagua will take approximately 15 years to produce its first harvest and will not stop bearing fruit for all of the years and even a century to come. A 35 to 40 year old plant measures about 6 feet and produces, in the 3 yearly harvests, between 15 to 16 heads or “mocochas”.
Tagua seeds according to their size are generally classified into 4 categories: extra large, large, medium and small.
Not only the seeds of the tagua are used to elaborate buttons, figurines, beads, chess sets, napkin rings, cane and umbrella holders, door knobs, etc. but the roots are said to contain medicinal properties. The leafs are also used for hut roofing and the very fine dust from the “ojalillos” serve as a mix in cattle feed due to its high content of energy.
Why is the Tagua nut so important?
Due to tagua’s properties in color, appearance, hardness and feel similar to those of natural ivory it is being substituted for the latter one. This helps in the depredation of elephants while at the same time keeps rainforests from being deforested which in turn favors the ecosystems and the environment.
Another important factor to consider is that it provides work to thousands of people in poor South American regions, giving them and their families a better life and the opportunity of offering their children a better education.