THE VEGETABLE IVORY
ORGANIC, ETHICAL, SUSTAINABLE
The vegetable ivory, also called “tagua” is the seed of a palm that grows spontaneously in the tropical rainforests of South America, especially in Ecuador. Its scientific name is Phytelephas Aequatorialis Macrocarpa.
More than 78% of the world’s ivory plant seeds are produced and processed in Ecuador.
The fruit of the tagua is also known as “mococha”, has many internal cavities each containing some seeds, approximately 5-6. The palm takes about 15 years to produce its first harvest and continues to bear fruit even over a century. It falls spontaneously when it is ripe so no harm to nature to obtain it.
Normally 3 annual harvests occur which produce about 15 – 16 “mocochas”. The seeds are then taken and dried for about two monthsuntil they become extraordinarily hard and ready to be processed, to become unique pieces.
The outer part of waste is used as food for farmers’ animals. It is biodegradable too.
Main features such as appearance, hardness, color and also to the touch, with a silky and smooth consistency, are very similar to those of the animal ivory, for this reason it is used as its ecological substitute.
Incredibly light and resistant is an excellent material for making jewelry and figurines.
FROM PALM TO JEWEL
A LONG BUT REWORDING JOURNEY
From the palm to the jewel the working process of vegetable ivory takes multiple stages before can turn into real jewellery.
This process requires a lot of time and dedication, in fact, from harvesting to the final product it can last up to 4 months.
The palm of the Phythelepas Macrocarpa releases a fruit that is called “mococha” which has internal sections divided into six, seven cells.
Freshly-formed seeds contain a colorless liquid which getting mature becomes milky due to the increase of hemicellulose, and it is edible.
These seeds has to be dried in the sun for about 60 days, after that they reach an extremely hard consistency. The seeds have now a dark brown skin, that needs to be peeled by hand. After that the seeds are sorted by size.
The vegetable ivory is now ready to be handcrafted. Seeds are sorted out and on each one of them is given the shape needed, then require to be polished inside a basket filled with wood pieces. When the tagua pieces become smooth it is time to rinse them and let dry.
Now the seeds can be dyed. Some of them are left also with their original ivory colour.
The seed is put in a boiling pot with the organic vegetable dye to be dyed until the desired color tone is reached.
Dyed seeds need to be left at open air to dry up for one or more days, depending on weather conditions.
The dry seeds are put on in a tumbling machine for all night long, 10-12 hours. The final touch is given in terms of shine.
The seeds are ready to be assembled into the jewel, after a quality control done in each one of the stages and following a strict artisan made process.
UNCONVENTIONAL JEWELS, HANDMADE WITH PASSION
KORI jewels are trendy, eclectic and colorful, for those who want unique jewels to stand out from the crowd. Necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings, with a timeless style for any time of the day and every season of the year mainly inspired by the nature and landscapes of Ecuador with its vibrant colors.
The creations are entirely handmade one by one and follow a strict ethical manufactoring process.
Due to the nature of the material and the artisanal process, there are no two identical pieces.