Vegetable ivory

Vintage necklace made of carved tagua nuts with gold clasp, around 1990

The 19th century's enthusiasm for nature's curiosities also led to unusual designs in exotic materials in jewellery design. The most diverse gifts of nature from the often distant colonies were processed into jewellery, especially leg, claws or the hair of elephants as well as the exotic coconut. This vintage necklace is part of this tradition and is made of a very interesting material. What looks like ivory at first sight is purely vegetable in nature and therefore completely ethically justifiable! It is the fruit of the tagua nut (Phytelephas macrocarpa). Also known as vegetable ivory, they are the fruits of the South American stone nut palm. The nuts, which are soft at first, are dried in the sun for several months and become as hard as bone. The ivory-colored material can be worked excellently, does not flake and is insensitive to impact and abrasion. In former times it was used as a substitute for the much more expensive ivory and was processed into a variety of articles of daily use but also jewellery. Before they were finally displaced by plastics, tagua nuts were the preferred material for button making. In our necklace, the nuts have been ground into round beads and provided with decorative hole patterns. A high quality ball clasp made of 800 gold holds the piece of jewellery securely. This creates an unusual piece of jewelry that is not only beautiful to look at, but also has an interesting history.

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You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.

Should you for some reason not be satisfied, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can begin to find a solution together. In any case, you can return any article within 30 days and we will refund the full purchase price.


OUR PROMISE

We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.

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