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The vegetable ivory


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.

avorio vegetale

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 months until 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.



Freshly-formed seeds contain a colorless liquid which getting  mature becomes milky due to the increase of hemicellulose, and it is edible.

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.

avorio vegetale

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.

Using a sharp blade machine, the seeds are cut into slices and then carved and perforated.  

A quel punto passano per un processo di lucidatura dentro un cestello, che con dei pezzi di ceramica all’interno leviga gli esterni della tagua, facendoli diventare liscissimi.

Si procede con la colorazione dei semi lavorati. Alcuni vengono anche lasciati con le caratteristiche originarie.
Il seme viene sommerso in bollitura in una pentola con la tinta vegetale fino ad ottenere la tonalità di colore ricercato.


The seeds go through a polishing process inside a basket, along with ceramic pieces that  smooth the outside of the tagua, making them very smooth.

Now the seed is put in a boiling pot with the organic vegetable dye to be dyed until the desired color tone is reached. Some seeds are also left with the original skin characteristics.

Its porosity and being pure cellulose, even if imperceptible, allows excellent absorption of the organic dye that becomes very peculiar on the discs,  like a fingerprint.

In a tumbling machine for 12 hours and along with  wood pieces now, the final touch is given in terms of shine.

The color takes  3-5 days for complete dry in the outside and in the shadow.

The colored seed passes through a final quality control and is ready to be assembled into jewellery.


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. 

Each piece is unique, just like you.