Tagua, Natural Materials & More
Faire Collection works with several kinds of natural materials, including tagua, which are sustainably sourced from Ecuador. When harvesting seeds from the rainforests and lowlands of South America, some are gathered from the rainforest floor while others require a skilled farmer to climb high into the tropical canopy to harvest ripe pods. In both cases, trees are not harmed and the commercialization of these seeds helps to ensure the survival of the world’s rainforests by providing an alternative income for its inhabitants in place of logging or selling their land to destructive industries. Through a manual, low energy process, seeds are transformed into beads, which have sculptural natural irregularities, both in color and form. Each piece is truly one of a kind.
The Tagua nut grows from the Ecuadorian Ivory Palm, Phytelephas aequatorialis, or literally, “plant elephant,” and is commonly referred to as “vegetable ivory.” The medium-sized palm, reaching up to 60 feet tall, grows quickly and easily in shady, humid places hidden below larger trees. Tagua grows from regenerative pods, which emerge from the palms’ trunks. The pods are removed from the palm and the seeds are left to dry in the sun. The drying process for tagua, acai and pambil is weather dependent. In the dry season, the process lasts a few days to a week. During the rainy season it can take months for the seeds to dry to the point at which they can be used by the artisans to create tagua jewelry.
Açaí seeds come from the Açaí palm, Euterpe oleracea, which is found in the lush rainforests of South America. These trees grow predominantly in swamps and in floodplains, and reach heights of approximately 45 to 90 feet tall. Small dark purple berries grow in dense clusters on the palm, and each contains a single seed about 0.25–0.4 inches in diameter. The fruit is harvested for food, and is most often served as a beverage. It has gained global fame in recent years due to its high antioxidant and energizing properties. In addition, Açaí leaves are used to make various handicrafts, such as hats and baskets, and Açaí wood is often used in construction. Açaí jewelry is our favorite though!
Pambil seeds come from Iriartea corneto, one of the grandest palms of South America. As a canopy tree, it grows about 60 to 105 feet tall, but from the bottom appears much like the “walking tree,” Socratea exorrhiza, because of its stilt roots. The Pambil palm is an essential resource for the Quichua culture of Peru and Ecuador. Its wood is used for constructing houses, lances, bows, and blowpipes, and the leaves are woven into roofs of native huts. The Pambil palm’s fruit, approximately one inch in diameter, contains the seed that is used in Faire Collection’s jewelry.
Coconut, which comes from the Cocos nucifera palm, is not only valued for it's high nutritional value all over the world, but it's shell is also an excellent raw material for jewelry making. Coconut palms prefer sandy soil, abundant sunlight and are highly tolerant of salt water, and are thus often found lining tropical beaches. The coconut shell is lightweight and soft, and its natural properties add warm tones of light and dark brown to our jewelry.
Jaboncillo are seeds whose name derives from the Spanish name for soap, “jabon,” because indigenous groups have traditionally used the seeds’ fruit as soap. The more frequently the beads are worn, the darker and glossier they become, due to contact with natural oils in the skin. A quick rub with mineral oil will heighten their shine as well.
Faire Collection sustainably sources alpaca fiber from Peru. The alpaca is native to the Andean regions of South America and can be found in Ecuador, southern Peru, northern Bolivia, and northern Chile. The alpaca has held significant cultural and artistic value in the Andes region for thousands of years because of its soft fibers. Alpaca fiber contains microscopic air pockets and holds heat more efficiently than wool, making it softer and more lightweight than wool. Alpaca fiber is hypoallergenic and can be harmlessly shorn from the alpaca animal each year. In addition, the environmental impact of the alpaca is lower than other livestock of similar size because alpacas drink less water, “cut” rather than tear out grass while grazing, and produce pH-balanced droppings that can be used for fertilizer.