Horn Jewellery - beaded necklaceI’m often asked (sometimes from a slightly defensive standpoint) why do I like horn and use it in my jewellery designs, and how do I source it. I understand the concern on the faces of those who ask. Most people are, very rightly, concerned about the mindless self-serving killing of animals and the impact this has on our planet. It’s a very positive thing that consumers are now looking far more at the ethical practices of the companies they choose to make their purchases from.

So, I thought it would be helpful and interesting to share some facts about how the horn I use is sourced and made.

Sourcing horn

Horn Jewellery - disc necklace

My horn pieces are made by hand in Vietnam and the Philippines, and the horn is sourced from the remains of the domestic Asian water buffalo.

Buffalo (as with cows in the USA or Europe) is an animal that’s an integral part of farms in Asia. They’re used for labour and for their milk, and when they die no part of the animal goes to waste as it’s then used for meat, leather and the horn for jewellery.

I want to be really clear here, the buffalos are never killed just for their horn – they are way too valuable to the farmers to use just for that!

However, in the past, it was the only part of the buffalo they didn’t know how to use, and wanting to honour the animal and ensure no part of it went to waste after death, they tried utilising it to make jewellery.

The process

Horn Jewellery - pendant necklace

To turn it into a usable material, the large tubular horns are first cut in half and then boiled in hot oil in order to soften the raw material. After it’s been softened, it ‘s ready to be pressed into thin plates.

With these thin plates the craftsman traces on the jewellery design and then cuts it into pieces. Depending on the design, various details and embellishments are added to each piece, and these are then polished to create a glossy finish.

Some of the horn pieces I sell are designed personally by me and some are bought ready-made, but all pieces are guaranteed handmade and of the highest quality.

Caring for horn jewellery

Horn is prone to splintering, so it’s essential to look after it properly.

To prevent splitting, you need to regularly lightly polish your pieces with jojoba or coconut oil.

Never leave it to soak in water and don’t leave it out in extreme temperatures or store it in a sunny place either.

My raison d’être

Horn Jewellery - chain link necklace

I personally love that horn is a sustainable material that’s completely organic and natural and does not undergo any chemical treatment in its creation. Yes, this means that my pieces come with a higher price tag than if I used materials like plastic. However as a conscious and ethical designer it is far more important to me to support the planet by using a product that is not only natural and beautiful but also biodegradable.

Some of the pieces that I design are inspired or influenced from my days living in Africa and traveling in Asia, and the aesthetic beauty of nature and hand work in these continents, so the joining of my designs with the use of ethically sourced horn feels like the perfect partnership. It’s also a great honour and a pleasure to support the skilled craftsmen of Vietnam and the Philippines, who love their buffalo and are proud to have created ways to respectfully use this part of their animals to make things of great beauty that live on after their death.

Horn Jewellery - drop earringWith its natural look, feel and simplicity, horn jewellery adds a touch of chicness and style to any outfit. The jewellery is typically black but may vary between brown to light brown or even light amber colour shades, and these are beautiful warm colours that enhance most skin tones, giving its wearer a vibrant natural glow. This colour variation provides an individual look to every piece, which fits perfectly with the RZ Jewelry Design ethos of creating completely unique, high quality, handmade designs that really are one-of-a-kind pieces.

It makes me very happy to know there are many people who recognise the full worth of my handmade jewellery. So much thought goes into the designs themselves (be that by me or by the master craftsmen that I use), and also into ensuring only the best and most sustainable products are used to create beautiful pieces of jewellery that adorn women across the globe.

I’ve linked a number of my horn designs here, but there are many more available in my online shop. Come on over and take a look – your perfect horn accessory is waiting for you!

Photo credit: Anna Tomczak