The Tagua Nut
I used Tagua Nut in the necklace shown above with a wooden link chain and two brass ring clasps. The natural colour of tagua is an ivory colour and I’ve also used a smaller one that’s dyed a beautiful chocolate brown. I also combined the natural shapes with tagua rings which have natural brown markings on them. You can see those details in the close-up below.
I became acquainted with tagua a few years ago. I discovered it in a bead store and was taken with its smoothness as well as the brilliantly dyed colours and its versatility. It comes in its more-or-less natural shapes (varying in size), in rings and in flat slices and it’s possible to create very high fashion jewellery by combining it with ebony wood, vintage brass chain, or gemstones.
The tagua nut is the seed of a particular variety of palm tree found in the tropical rainforests of some South America countries, mainly Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. Tagua is harvested by indigenous people and no harm is done to the plant since only the matue nuts that fall from the trees are collected and used.
Tagua’s been used as a replacement for ivory for ages. Its natural colour, appearance, hardness and feel are similar to ivory. Because of this, it became an important commodity. In the late nineteenth century, Ecuador was exporting thousands of tons of tagua every year primarily for the production of buttons. After WW II, new cheap plastics were introduced almost runing the manufacture of tagua. In the 1970’s tagua experienced a revival when top fashion designers like Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Versace began using tagua buttons for their exclusive garments.
Here’s another tagua necklace that I made, this time using tagua that’s been dyed red, orange, yellow and brown. I added small tagua bead spacers and strung them all on leather.
I’ve made other necklaces using hot pink and bright orange tagua, zebra-striped tagua and leopard-spot tagua. I’ve combined them with resin, vintage chain and wooden link chain and they’ve always elicited compliments.