From Seed to Jewelry by Sasha Cohen, February 03 2015, 0 Comments

Encanto Jewels, Powered by Tagua

Thanks to a gift from her mother, Monica Farbiarz, owner and designer of Encanto, discovered tagua (pronounced tag-wah). On a trip to Colombia, her home country, Monica's mother gifted her a tagua necklace. Tagua's natural beauty and ability to absorb and reflect color so brilliantly made an impression on her. When she learned that tagua was a seed, harvested using sustainable methods, she saw the opportunity to provide a source of prosperity for others, as well as for herself. Monica says that there’s something very exotic and emotionally fulfilling sourcing these beautiful items from South American rainforests.

Encanto is a fair trade jewelry company which operates sustainably at all levels of business, beginning with their artisan workshop in Colombia. With a mission to help save the rainforest, the company's motto is “Jewelry made from nature to help save nature”. They create unique, hand-made jewelry from the tagua seed, non-invasively harvested from a palm-like tree native to rainforests in Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil.

EcoPlum Introduces Encanto

EcoPlum is introducing Encanto to our readers and shoppers. These Encanto designs -- Aphrodite necklaces and Aphrodite earrings, Athena earrings, Antares necklaces and Saphi necklaces and Saphi earrings -- are carried exclusively in EcoPlum's online boutique. Aphrodite features beautiful colors and the unique grains of the tagua seed. Athena and Saphi are geometrically influenced, with vibrant color to accent simple outfits. Athena earrings complement all of the necklaces. The Semilla Infinity and Zora lines, also sold on EcoPlum, combine tagua with faux leather, silk, cotton, and link chain.

Tagua's Sustainability Story

The tagua seed is noted for its beauty, durability and distinctive ability to absorb bright color. Each seed is unique due to nature’s imprint - the veining. Combined with the variation in size, shape and color of a natural material, every piece of jewelry has a one-of-a-kind quality. Also known as the "vegetable ivory" because of its rich ivory color and shiny texture, tagua discourages the use of actual ivory in jewelry production and the resulting harm to elephants.

Tagua grows naturally and most seed pods are harvested from the ground after falling from the tree. Because tagua seeds are harvested with no impact on reproduction, tagua jewelry helps to preserve vital natural rainforest land and habitat. It also helps preserve a natural and economic way of life for many South Americans.

Encanto colors its tagua seeds in small batches of non-toxic biodegradable dyes. While the recipes are formula-based, “batches do differ slightly in color now and then,” says Alyson Collom, Operations Manager at Encanto. The seed is then dried, polished and cut by machine and by hand, and assembled entirely by hand. Unusable tagua pieces are composted.

Encanto's Fair Trade Legacy

Encanto works with Misrachi, a fair trade workshop with over 30 years of experience working with tagua. Misrachi’s dedication to providing good jobs and a beautiful work environment for employees led to their 2013 award for best small exporter in all of Columbia. Encanto, with Misrachi, became members of the Fair Trade Federation in 2013 and a B Corporation in 2014.

Designs by Monica

Monica is well known for her keen and imaginative designs. Her color combinations are harmonious, recognizable and vibrant. She draws design inspiration from the tagua beads, arranging and re-arranging them. She is also influenced by the workshop artisans and it's a collaborative effort at times.

Building Community

"Our success in life is always connected to the success of others," affirms Monica Farbiarz, Owner and Designer, Encanto Jewels.

Building community is central to Encanto’s business identity. In their home base of Grass Valley, California, they work closely with local businesses, helping to form a mutually-beneficial community. Encanto features local business women on their Creative Women blog series and builds cooperative relationships with like-minded groups by participating in trade shows such as Corferias in Colombia and DeYoung Fair Trade Bazaar in San Francisco.

"We are always operating from our hearts and from a space of mutual prosperity and care,” says Alyson Collum, Encanto’s Operations Manager.

Journey of a Seed, their Documentary

Encanto has also successfully wrapped filming Journey of a Seed, a Kickstarter-funded documentary. The film showcases how their non-invasive harvesting of tagua seed supports skilled artisans, the local community and preservation of the rainforest.

When filming Journey of a Seed, Encanto was driven by an ethos of building community and helping a country heal: “I palpably felt a lot of pain in the people of Colombia,” says Alyson, referring to the history of drugs and war. The documentary seeks to position against the negative stereotypes and stigmas, to show change and mending from the violence that “continues to haunt” the country. “There is a huge military presence, but there are also large civic improvement projects," adds Alyson. "It is overwhelmingly familial as a community; the workshop is really a family environment.”

Our Shopping Choices Vote for the Kind of World We Want to Live In

Encanto believes that the choices we make when we shop vote for the kind of world we want to live in. EcoPlum agrees wholeheartedly and we are proud to feature the artistic creations of Encanto in our online shop and to support their wide range of sustainable endeavors.

So, if you're looking to purchase beautiful new jewelry pieces, help save our planet, sustain endangered rainforests and elephants, and build local artisan communities, Encanto might just have what you want.