When you start making jewelry you choose the type of designs and your material. And after that choice, you try to enlarge your expertise in making beautiful jewelry. FlorenceJewelshop chooses to make jewelry of gemstones and precious metals. And in a way, you might say that you can make organic jewelry from gemstones too; made by nature and the ingredients of gemstones are natural. But I don’t in general design and make organic jewelry, I think.
Now and then I come over some interesting beads, that are so beautiful, that it is hardly impossible not to use them in my jewelry. I found stunning palm seed beads in Ecuador and amazing carved camel bone beads in Egypt. And no way, not to use them. But I wonder… can you call gemstone beaded jewelry organic jewelry or not?
Looking for the definition of organic jewelry I found this one: ‘jewelry that is made from a living organism, like pearl, amber, or coral, jewelry with floral or plant-like designs, or jewelry that is eco-friendly’. Further down the definition says that organic jewelry should be sustainable and show a connection with the earth.
Hopefully, you are not crossed with me, if I alter something to the definition. I agree that your material should be made of a living organism, to claim you make organic jewelry, like amber, pearls, coral, but also camel bone, or palm seeds. Gemstones are not organic, that is for sure, but they are sustainable and have a connection with the earth, where it is mined.
The definition of eco-friendly jewelry is clear. Gemstones last more or less forever and can be reused again. The same goes for precious metals. But I have some problems with jewelry, made with a floral or plant design, without mentioning any conditions to the material. I cannot believe that, say a necklace made of plastic flowers, is eco-friendly, nor organic.
Let us see how this works out in practice.
Seeds used in time.
Since the beginning of mankind and since the beginning of the urge of people to decorate themselves, jewelry is made of shells, stones, and seeds. Shells are used first because you don’t need any qualifications to make a hole in a shell and bead it on a piece of fiber.
The next step is using seeds, since making a hole in them needs some practice and you want to dye them, using natural material. For all this, you need some practice and knowledge.
And using seeds in traditional and primitive jewelry is been done for ages and ages. I can remember a birthday when I got a necklace from a friend made of red bean beads.
What type of seeds to use in jewelry?
There are so many types of seeds to use, that I start with the common ones. Most of the seed jewelry is made of ordinary palm trees and cocos palms. You can find them in different natural colors, like brown, blackish, or even red, like the pau Brasil and the huayruro seeds. Most of these seeds are found in South America, like in Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, or Peru. It’s hard work to transform the seeds into beads and most of the time it is done by the people in the slums.
Other organic jewelry material
The earth gives us a lot of stunning materials to make jewelry from. Not only seeds or nuts but also amber, pearls, shells, and coral. In this blog, I don’t discuss coral, since only in a very few places coral is ‘harvested’ eco-friendly. FlorenceJewelshop used this type of coral, but although it is a beautiful material to use in organic jewelry. I hesitate to make a lot of jewelry out of it, due to the problems with the reefs.
There is more than enough organic jewelry material, that is sensible to work with left.
Exceptional natural beads in organic jewelry
Traveling around the world to get inspiration for a new jewelry collection brings me into the Amazonas region in Ecuador. Here you can find all the materials you want to make fantastic jewelry, made of natural beads. All cultures have their own design and way of making beautiful jewelry, but the women in the Amazonas discovered very beautiful, very eco-friendly materials to make gorgeous pieces of natural beads.
Fantastic trip to the Amazonas of Ecuador
You have to travel quite a long time to find all those beautiful pieces of jewelry. Starting with a bus ride of several hours while the rain is finding its way into the bus. All right I know that the Amazonas consist of the rainforest, but still… Then we arrive in Tena, had lunch, and took a taxi for about 30 kilometers, then a boat ride of 15 minutes through some rapids, and finally, we arrived in Liana Lodge, where the search started.
The Kitchwa family and their organic jewelry
After I explained to the guide what I was looking for he brought us to the opposite side of the large river, where we had to walk through enormous mud pools to get to a large wooden house of a Kitchwa family. The Kitchwa people are the original inhabitants of this area and in some parts of the country they still ‘survive’. On the island where we were, there live about 10 Kitchwa families of 8-9 people each and they live from their grounds (cacao, banana, and corn) and try to sell their jewelry, made of natural beads to the few foreign people that visit them.
In the Kitchwa house, the lady showed me the natural beads jewelry she had made the other day. It was not that special, looking at the design. It was rather simple. But then I had a look at the material she used to make the necklaces and earrings she was selling. And that was very interesting and beautiful.
Making jewelry with natural beads
The Kitchwa people don’t have the money to buy themselves precious metals or gemstones to make pieces of jewelry, so they make necklaces, etc. from the material they find in their surroundings.
For instance, you have chocho. That is a type of grain, which you have to put into the water for 8 hours, then cook and use in a meal. But these women dry the chocho, dye it in a beautiful red color and use it as a natural bead. This tradition comes from the Incas, the Aztecs, the Quichua, and all the other tribal cultures that lived in the Amazonas.
More exquisite and rare seeds and stones.
Material for organic jewelry is everywhere!
But it is not the only chocho they use, but also palmito, which is the nut or fruit of a tree, that is hard enough to use as a natural bead in a piece of jewelry. Or the fruit of a walking tree. The walking tree lives in the rainforest and the trees like to have light. And sunlight is not everywhere available in the jungle.
So when they don’t have enough sunlight on the spot where the tree lives, there will be a new root at the base of the tree and that root grows towards the light and the whole tree is following. And that walking tree has beautiful brown nuts, that can be dyed and used as natural beads for jewelry.
And that is not all they use. You have little plates made from coconut. Or tagua, acacia, achira, bombona, cabalonga, cerebrito, chocho rojo, coco corozo, haboncillo, huayuro, Job’s tears, matirirou, pambil, palmito and visola or acai berries. All these plants have nuts or roots that are used for making jewelry of natural beads.
The ivory of the woods
Especially tagua is very very beautiful. It is called vegetable ivory and I don’t mean the ivory of the tusk of an elephant, but a nut that is dyed and polished. And you can carve it to make pendants. And they use little bright-colored feathers to make head ware or earrings.
The nuts of the Phytelepas, a tree native to South America are the most important source of the tagua nut. There are also other trees in different continents that grow nuts for vegetable ivory, like in Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, or even in Sub-Saharan Africa.
It takes the tagua palm 15 years to grow the vegetable nuts. You might say the palm then is an adult because, after these 15 years, it can produce tagua nuts every year for more than 100 years. And every year you will get about 20 pounds or 9 kilos of nuts. That is an awesome amount to make jewelry of.
I found some tagua nuts in a little shop near a famous market in Ecuador. The seller and producer have a lot of work to do before the nuts are ready for selling as beads on a string. After drying, and carving, he has to dye them. He used very nice pastel colors and I fell in love with the result.
This Tagua nut is called the ‘ivory of the woods’. It does come from the tusk of elephants, but it is the natural plant variety of ivory. It’s hard to find and the color reminds us of ivory.
Seeds of a walking tree, or Socratea exorrhiza
These seeds are used for making larger beads and they can be dyed too in great colors. That walking tree is a funny type of tree, that moves about 2-3 feet a year. This tree needs sunlight, which is not always available in a jungle, and besides that, he has to ‘fight’ with the other trees to get enough sunlight.
It found a very intelligent way of getting to the sunlight. Normally a tree has a trunk and branches with leaves and it stands on the ground with its roots. This walking tree has a trunk and leaves but the roots are not in the ground but a bit above it. When the tree wants to move towards the light there is a new root growing from the trunk and it hits the ground about 2-3 feet from the trunk. And the trunk leans during time more on that new root, and more towards the sunlight.
A small recap on this organic jewelry essay
According to the definition of organic jewelry, organic jewelry is called like that when:
- you use organic material, like seeds, nuts, pearls, amber, etc. We covered that part already
- the material you use in organic jewelry should be sustainable and eco-friendly, like gemstones
- and the last part is that you use plant- and floral designs
Love flower designs in my organic jewelry
Organic jewelry that is made of organic material and has the shape of flowers, is called flower jewelry by me. It is an invented word, but it covers the matter, I think.
Although I travel around the world and all the cultures inspire me to design my jewelry, in springtime in The Netherlands, I get all my inspiration from scenes something like 200 meters from my home. My inspiration is to make flower jewelry, or jewelry inspired by flowers to be exact. You might call these designs organic jewelry too.
I live in the middle of the bulb or flower fields and the colors in the Spring of those fields are stunning. The jewelry designers find their inspiration in nature and heaven. They design flower jewelry or jewelry with real flowers and they used flower-shaped material to make the women more beautiful than they already are.
The meaning of flower jewelry
Flower jewelry or a flower pendant is a special piece of jewelry. It is a symbol of life and vitality, that will bring you a lot of energy and strength to you in your life. And on top of that, a flower and a piece of flower jewelry are symbols of love. Think about this: when you want to please a woman you bring flowers and if you love her give her a piece of flower jewelry.
What does a flower necklace say?
In Hawaii, you get a lei (garland of flowers) as a welcome or farewell present. These lei are made of carnations and blossoms of Kika, ginger, jasmine, or orchids.
There are certain flowers that are special symbols and a depiction of these special flowers in a necklace or brooch or another piece of jewelry has the same meaning. Let us find out what the meaning of these specific flowers is:
A rose and therefore a piece of jewelry with the image of a rose is the symbol of love and sacrifice. But also death. People throw roses in the water when a person is drowned. The rose is also linked to the Greek goddess Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
It is more complicated what the symbol of the lily is because every variety stands for something different. Overall the lily is the symbol of purity and fertility or new life and rebirth.
Nearly every flower is a symbol of something. So you have to take care that when you give a piece of flower jewelry as a present, you know what the meaning is behind that flower. So we follow with some more examples, without being able to cover all flowers.
Lavender stands for purity, calmness, grave, and serenity or purity. And the color purple of lavender is the color of loyalty, elegance, refinement, and luxury. The tulip, thé flower of The Netherlands, is the symbol of perfectness and deep love. You give tulips to someone you love unconditionally, like your partner, children, or parents. And that love grows like the tulip keeps growing even in a vase.
Sunflowers are the representatives of Summer and happiness. They are like little suns in a bouquet of flowers, with their golden petals and beautiful brownish center. You can compare them with the gemstone Citrine, a symbol of the sun and the light too.
This season’s trend: flower jewelry or organic jewelry
The best tip I can give to you is, don’t have to follow all the trends that jewelry designers come up with. You will get bankrupt and not necessarily all the trends will fancy or suit you.
I show you the trends in organic jewelry and you can:
- Decide you purchase some trendy stuff, which means low quality and cheap, and not exactly sustainable or eco-friendly organic jewelry
- Look in your jewelry box and find a piece of flower jewelry that matches the trend. Like a pair of earrings in the shape of a flower or leave. And you can wear this piece more often
- Think…. I want a new piece of jewelry and I love nature and flowers. Search for some great organic jewelry pieces, you really really love. You must be sure that you love that piece also when the trend is over.
#3 is the best tip I can give you! Jewelry is emotional, and like a flower or organic jewelry and you have to feel great wearing it. And organic jewelry has to match your style and taste. And when I can help you with any advice, just let me know (contact form)
The dilemma: non-precious or organic material in jewelry?
Normally I only use gemstones and silver (sometimes gold or vermeil) of high quality. I buy my material myself to be sure of buying the right quality. And since I buy it on one of my frequent travels, every bead has a story, and the stories together from the piece of jewelry I design and produce. And I am always looking for exceptional material, regarding shape or color.
Besides that, I use also coral, mother-of-pearl, pearls, shell pearls, and abalone shells in my designs. And gemstones are just as natural as the tagua and palm nuts.
The tagua nuts have high quality, exceptionally beautiful, great unusual shapes, and stunning colors. And even the rather ordinary palm seeds or nuts I bought in Ecuador were very professionally carved and dyed.
Actually, it is not a dilemma to use sustainable materials in organic jewelry. You have to in these times. We have to save the Earth before it is too late. So it is not only a matter of designing and making organic jewelry, but also purchasing sustainable and eco-friendly jewelry. Or even better, reuse the materials of your old pieces of jewelry, that you don’t wear anymore.
In this way, we help to save the earth and look stunning as ever. Isn’t that a magnificent and easy-to-follow deal?
Sometimes it is hard to know what organic jewelry looks best on you. What jewelry matches your outfit best? Or what jewelry can accentuate your best features and what jewelry you better don’t wear? FlorenceJewelshop published a PDF with dozens of tips for you. With this PDF you can see exactly what type of jewelry looks best on you and makes you look stunning. This PDF is free of charge. Just let me know where to send it to.
Florence from FlorenceJewelshop