Tagua nuts come from ivory palm trees which are indigenous to Central and South America.  The fresh nuts are edible and taste like coconut. But when they are hardened, the resulting material is easily shaped and dyed. The  natural striations and markings on the beads is another attraction.

Indeed tagua nuts have been used by artists and carvers for over a century due to their useful properties. They were once popular as buttons just as mother of pearl shell beads were before plastic took over. They resemble real ivory so these are definitely preferable elephant friendly alternatives!

No wonder artisans like Carole of Kokobelli adore the look of these natural plant based beads for her jewelry designs. Shown above are some of her designs which really do take advantage of the colors and shapes of the tagua beads she bought from Ecuadorian Hands.

Carole sells her jewelry designs via her website and through various boutiques in France.  She clearly loves working with tagua beads. So much so, she and her companion recently took the trouble and expense to investigate the source of the beads.

Taking a photo of an ivory palm
Here are some pictures taken during their extraordinary trip where they could see for themselves the where her favorite beads come from and meet the people who work at Ecuadorian Hands. Check their Flickr stream for more pictures.

Looking at tagua nuts in their kernels

Drying vat for tagua beads 

Cutting tagua beads
Rafael Farias, an artisan polishing a tagua figurine
Check here for more pictures on how tagua beads are made.


If you'd like to win $40 worth of tagua beads make your own natural jewelry, please make a comment below. Make sure you leave contact info if you do not have an online shop or blog.

Subscribers need to click on the post title to come to my actual blog. Scroll down and enter your comment. Pick Name/URL. If you don't have a store or blog, leave the URL blank. Please leave an email at the very least so I can contact you easily if you win.
This is an international giveaway.

Extra entries if you become or are a blog subscriber or follower etc . If you also do shout outs about this giveaway,  those will count as additional entries too!  Please say so in the comments.

It ends in a week's time at 6 pm EST Monday, June 11, 2012. I will pick a winner randomly and announce the results as soon as possible after. So be sure to leave a contact email if you don't have an online link or make sure you come back and check! Otherwise I will redraw in a week. Good luck!
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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips