Organic Jewelry Part 3- Shell-Hair and Feather jewelry

Organic Jewelry Part 3- Shell-Hair and Feather jewelry

by Ms Nandita Ray

Jewelry made out of organic elements i.e. made out of the remains of living beings and containing carbon is called organic. Apart from Pearls and corals, jewelry made out of Jet, Hair, Shell, Ivory, Bones, and Wood; are all organic in nature.

Jewelry is like plague; bane for some and blessings for others. It is clairvoyant in nature. It either drains finances or it instills confidence. A well accessorized woman feels positive and capable. Jewelry is also a source of financial security for women.
Jewelry made out of organic elements i.e. made out of the remains of living beings and containing carbon is called organic. Apart from Pearls and corals, jewelry made out of Jet, Hair, Shell, Ivory, Bones, and Wood; are all organic in nature.

Shell Jewelry

shell jewelryNature’s most beautiful gift, the shell comes in wondrous iridescent colors of the rainbow from the sea. It is sad that the Sea that has been bestowing us with not only food but various other bounties is getting polluted. If not salvaged quickly we shall soon lose these amazing gifts. Shell has been used as jewelry for long. Whether in their natural form of cut and shaped it has a charm of its own. The different colors, mother of pearl Nautilus, lily shell, sea urchins, rose colored shell; olive shells with their glow and shine make beautiful jewelry.

Shell JewelryThe multi layered calcareous skeletons of marine animals like pearl oyster, abalone, nautilus, snail; sea urchins, river mussels whose hard yet smooth inner lining, coated with the organic secretion called Nacre also called mother of pearl, give it an attractive luster. Some shells in their natural form like cowries (shell) or the outer shell of the tortoise or the spiral shell of the snail is often used to make solitary pendants. Cameos are carved on shells.

Crafted in most Islands, where they are easily found, like Hawaii, Maldives, Polynesia and Andaman, it makes for summer cool ethnic chic. Crescent shape, colored discs, silver filigreed body, bead and shell, with coral mixed and matched with pearls earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, pendants and bangles are quite popular.

Bamboo Jewelry

This long and tall grass, which grows in abundance in the monsoon terrains of Asia, Africa and USA is used for many things, jewelry being one of them. Since it is naturally hollow and light weight and coated with a natural shine it makes excellent items of jewelry. The most common bamboo is Bambusa Arundinacea. Bamboos which can grow to a height of 100ft can be woody or climbing grass. The stalks can be thorny, hollow or solid. Some wither and die after flowering while some take 30years to flower.

Bamboo can be made into bangles, earrings, ear plugs, necklaces and belts. They can be hand painted or enameled or finished with silver.

Hair Jewelry

Human hair has been used for adornment and was very popular till the end of the 1800’s. It was during the 1600’s when it was first used as bracelets by both sexes. Hair from the lock of a loved was exchanged and worn for sentimental reasons or in memory of a departed soul. Napoleon wore a watch with a chain braided from his second wife Marie Louise to show faith and fidelity. This was very much in vogue since there were no photographs. When the beloved left for war or for distant shore, a lock of hair made into a pendant was coveted. Hair brooches were popular too.

Jewelry made from hair was used for mourning as well as sentimental reasons. Brooches fringed with seed or tiny pearls, hair encased within a glass cover, or gold monogram, or hair twisted and braided all around a painted photograph, were laboriously crafted. Sometimes two hair tones were used to make the brooches more attractive. The hair strands, clubbed together were twisted and turned till they became hard and thread like. This made it easier to use them in various designs.

Elephant Hair from the tail is used for making bracelets and charms in Africa. The sparse and thick hair of this mammal is also used for handicrafts in South Africa. It is thought to ward of evil and keep the wearer safe. The hair is knotted with either three knots or two knots, into plain blackish grey bracelets.

Feather Jewelry

Has been used by the Native Americans to adorn their bodies. Feathers which a light and come in attractive natural colors can be made into beautiful pieces of jewelry. Peacock, duck, wild fowl, parrot, pea fowl, turkey, ostrich, hawk, raven and their likes have all contributed feathers for the growth of this industry. Feather jewelry is back in vogue.
Feathers are wrapped in silver, dyed in various colors, cut and curled, held in thin chains, wrapped in leather throngs, mixed and matched with beads can be made into pendants, necklaces and earrings. Unique in look they add chic cool look.

Hemp Jewelry

Though banned in its natural form, it can be used under strict licensing for industrial purposes. Fiber, food, oils, clothing, jewelry and building material are made. Commonly known as cannabis this destructive and addictive plant has been successfully used for harmless products. The fibers can be dyed and twisted into bracelets, necklaces, earrings, woven with beads or mixed and matched with shell or seeds, the strong fibers make it sturdy and durable.

Wood, jute, stone and terracotta are also used to make organic jewelry. They are not only environment friendly but also proffer work to many, since mostly they are hand crafted.