"The elephant is covered in shapes that at first glance, appear random and unrelated. Before the introduction of plastics, ivory was used for a wide range of ornamental items. These include pool balls, piano keys, dominoes, Scottish bagpipes, cutlery handles, chopsticks, buttons and even guitar bridges. Synthetic substitutes for ivory have long been developed and using ivory is completely unnecessary.' -  Sir Richard Branson describes the inspiration behind his elephant, Satoa, for the Hong Kong parade in 2014. Photo: Costa & Stephie 

Synthetic substitutes for ivory mean it is indeed unnecessary to slaughter innocent elephants. In today's world, we are also waking up to the impact of plastic pollution and how it affects our ecosystems. Therefore, we are exploring Tagua, a natural material that is not polluting to our environment. To tell us more about this fascinating seed, we caught up with Estefano Semanate from TAGUARTE who use this unique material to create beautiful items of jewellery.


Please tell us about tagua?

Tagua is a seed or coconut that is native to some Latin American countries, in the subtropical areas in the Pacific region. It grows from a palm tree called Phytelephas. "Mochocha" is the name given to the part of the palm that falls naturally to the ground and holds the tagua seeds inside it. After peeling the cluster, you get a tiny white tagua seed. The final part of the process is TAGUARTE products, which are the tagua seeds after our unique polishing, dying and manufacturing processes. We use Ecuadorian tagua, called Phytelephas aequatorialis, which is renowned in the industry for its exceptional quality, durability and beauty compared to other types of tagua.


How is tagua production sustainable?

Tagua production is sustainable because the harvest is natural. The nut naturally falls from the palm tree, meaning that no human hand, nor any deforestation is needed to create this precious product. The recollection process on tagua doesn't involve any polluting waste, and due to its organic nature, it can be reused and recycled in many ways or forms. Through using this material, our business has a positive impact on the local ecosystem.

Why could it help elephants?

Tagua has many nicknames, but the most famous is "the vegetable ivory". Elephants have ivory in the form of tusks. It's called vegetable ivory because when it has been polished correctly and manufactured with the right process, it looks virtually identical to ivory. The ivory trade has been ruthless to innocent elephants, creating an evil market that has almost eradicated pachyderms from the planet due to the shortage of ivory in the world and the absurd "precious" standard that human society has given to it.

Tagua creates the opportunity to stop such a market; it creates the chance for people to be interested in craftsmanship and fashion but from a responsible angle. Tagua with its colour, appearance, beauty and pleasant recollection is a perfect substitute for ivory, and TAGUARTE as a business has this moto as our No. 1 priority.


What types of products can tagua be made into?

Tagua historically and traditionally has been used to create buttons as complements in clothing, as well to create figurines, tiny sculptures and souvenirs. Recently tagua has grown and made its way into the fashion industry.

TAGUARTE is one of the pioneers to use tagua as the base of a jewellery based business; developing earrings, necklaces, chokers, bracelets, dumbbells, and many types of accessories that are part of the fashion world. All items are handmade, polished and colour dyed with our unique style and process in Ecuador.


Thank you for explaining this super seed to us.

If you have learnt something new today, share the information with your friends. 

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