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Horn and Tusk Jewelry

By Paige McKirahan 

Though there may be some controversy surrounding the use of animal materials in the fashion industry, this practice has been in place since ancient times. Decades before the presence of synthetic goods, these natural substances were the only available products that could be used in the creation of clothing and jewelry goods. What most people don’t know, though, is that these animal products typically don’t cause the death of an animal; the bone and tusks are usually taken from the animal after its death from other causes. The crafting of jewelry from horn and tusks is a longstanding tradition for native peoples, but why is this practice considered to be a sustainable one?

Firstly, these types of jewelry are organic; as the ancient crafting traditions have overall remained unchanged, they typically produce beautiful and unique pieces. Since they are naturally harvested, they will not have any chemical treatments and will be responsibly created. Horns are formed by modified skin tissue, giving the material a softer and more flexible composition. New layers of tissue are added to the base of the horn periodically, and its fibrous structure allows it to be broken down into thin, transparent sheets. Tusks, on the other hand, refer to the teeth of animals that protrude from the mouths of certain species of mammals. One of the most common types of tusks used in creating jewelry is that of ivory, which applies to elephant tusks. With a high market value, ivory is scarce and has highly desired properties regarding hardness and color. Ivory has a grainy composition, offering different surface effects and making it suitable for carving. Despite the fact that harvesting ivory now has negative connotations, we encourage the use of older ivories that were harvested safely rather than those that did harm.

To clean this type of jewelry, wash with mild soap and water on an as needed basis. Since horns and tusks are prone to splintering and are quite porous, do not leave them to soak in water or expose them to extreme temperatures. To maintain its smooth appearance, you should lightly polish your pieces as needed with jojoba or coconut oil. Looking to add some natural elements to your look? Find some of these sustainable products here at talkingfashion.


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