Artisan jewelry made from the tagua nut which is a seed from a palm tree varietal mainly be found in northern South America, can be a unique and eco friendly way to accessorize an outfit. A little information about the tagua tree and nut and how it came about being used in art, fashion and ultimately artisan jewelry.
The tagua palm tree has a very slow growth rate. A tree which is 35 years old would likely not exceed a height of seven feet. The tree bears large clusters of woody fruit. Each fruit cluster weighs approximately 25 pounds. The fruit itself contains anywhere from four to nine seeds/nuts. The nut shape and size is similar to that of a hen’s egg.
Other common names for the tagua nut are Corozo, mococha and vegetal ivory. Artisan jewelry made from the nut can often be described as corozo seed jewelry, vegetal ivory jewelry or eco nut jewelry. Mococha is not as commonly referenced in artisan jewelry using the tagua seed.
The use of the tagua nut in art and fashion dates back to as early as 1750. Initially used in the carving of small art figurines, the nut was later found use in fashion being utilized in button production.
The use of the tagua seed in button production began near the end of the 19th century. In fact Ecuador, where the tree grows in the subtropical zone of the Andean mountains, was the largest source for harvesting and exporting the nut. Ecuador was at the time exporting thousands of tons of the tagua nut annually.
The tagua fruit contains seed cavities which initial hold a liquid not unlike that of coconut milk. This liquid can congeal into an edible sweet gelatin. The gelatin can be further hardened into a very hard white substance which has similar visual properties to animal ivory. It is from this characteristic that the term “vegetal ivory” has been coined.
After World War II the tagua seed buttons lost their favor as the low cost production of plastic button became popular. Thanks however to luxury European designers such as Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentine, Versace and others, recognizing the incomparable quality of the tagua button, it is still used today in luxury fashion.
The tagua seed found it’s way further into fashion through the use of the seed in artisan jewelry. The seed is dyed, sliced, carved and strung into distinctive artisan jewelry designs that reflect fashion trends and the societal move toward eco fashion and eco jewelry.
Since the seed it’s self has similar visual properties to that of animal ivory, there is no need to use animal ivory. The seed is also eco friendly in that many of the fair trade producers who use the nut in their artisan jewelry designs ensure that only seeds which have fallen to the ground are harvested. They also make certain that sufficient seeds are left behind to ensure continued growth of new tagua palm trees.
The artisan jewelry pieces that are created from tagua seeds are not only beautiful but since no two seeds are the same each piece of handcrafted tagua seed jewelry is truly one-of-kind.
If you are seeking a beautiful, unique piece of artisan jewelry that is also eco friendly consider purchasing a piece of tagua seed jewelry.