I was picking up some books at the Human Rights Museum Shop and saw this beautiful necklace. I decided to splurge and buy it for a late birthday gift to myself. I felt a little guilty about it. I really don’t need more jewelry. The cashier asked me if I would like a card that provided more information about the necklace.
The card said the necklace had been made from the tagua nut. It is the fruit of a kind of palm tree in northern South America. Each fruit has about four to nine seeds the size and shape of an egg. There is a liquid inside each seed and when it hardens it has the look and feel of real ivory. In the past tagua ivory was used primarily for making buttons. Now it is being used to make jewelry and carvings as well.
I read an interesting article about how tagua might help to save elephants because it can act as a substitute for real ivory. Only problem is the rainforests where the tagua nut trees grow are being threatened by slash and burn agriculture. If more people demand products made from tagua it may be profitable to leave those trees standing.
So now I am feeling a whole lot less guilty about buying my necklace. My purchase may have helped to save an elephant and some rainforest trees. Why buying that necklace was a positively saintly thing to do!