Tagua nuts come from ivory palm trees which grow in Central and South America.  While eco friendly tagua nuts might be new to some of you, the material has actually been used for well over 150 years.It can be easily carved and that quality explains why it is promoted as an elephant safe alternative. 

Its extensive use in the decorative arts started in the 19th century.  Sand was initially used as ballast for wooden ships but it got heavy when seawater soaked into it.  So sailors started to substitute tagua nuts for the sand.

An artist in Hamburg, Germany tried carving a few taken from a ship's hull and his success promoted the nuts.  Tagua nuts were often used for buttons (like mother of pearl shell - see Pearly Kings and Queens and Vintage Pearl Buttons)  in the early part of the 20th century until plastic took over. 

Today you can get tagua nuts in different shapes and dyed from various companies such as Ecuadorian HandsCheck here if you'd like to see how tagua beads are made.

Perhaps we could all do with some design inspirations if you are not sure how to use tagua beads.  These organic beads do a good job of being a gemstone or glass substitute in jewelry making.

Here are some of my favorites from the Ecuadorian Hands blog which featured some of their own giveaway beads contest entrants.  One stunning design is the one by Magenta where tagua beads and coral are mixed in with silver filigrees.

Naz submitted the statement necklace below wsaying, " I named this piece Boracay Palms, inspired by the best beach resort in the Philippines. I used beeswax thread, glass beads and wood seed beads to complete this exotically pretty piece."

While she didn't use any tagua beads, her design does lend itself very well to the use of said beads.

Elena Georgopoulou made this fun and colorful necklace :

Lisa Criswell of Indigo's Beads submitted this stunning netted necklace. Again she did not use tagua beads but the design allows for their inclusion.

Also check out this fun beaded bezel around tagua nut necklace design which is from Ecudorian Hands' Flickr set.

Inspired?  Here is a chance to win $40 worth of tagua nuts.

If you wish to try your luck 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 giveaway is international.

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, September 24, 2012. I will pick the winners 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
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