Making jewelry by hand has become a growing industry. Many individuals make handmade jewelry of all types. Some of this jewelry is of excellent quality while a great deal of it is inferior. Generally handmade jewelry is made from local products. In some countries entire communities make jewelry by hand. In South America this is the case.
There are a variety of quality materials available to make jewelry. The majority of these natural materials are derived from tropical plants. These materials include tagua, guadua, cana flecha, cuerno, café, and leather. Tagua is made from a seed of a palm tree grown in Colombia and Ecuador. Guadua is made from a tropical plant similar to bamboo that is native to South America. Cana flecha is made from cana (sugar cane). Cuerno is merely a horn, like bull horns. Café is dried coffee beans. And leather is well known to all. Leather is called cuero in Spanish.
In Ecuador there is a community located in the Andes Mountains, 10,000 above sea level. This community is a small town called Otavalo. Almost the entire population is comprised of a group of indigenous Indians called Otalavenos. They are world renown for their handmade products. They produce some of the most unique and beautiful jewelry in the world and these products sell at very reasonable prices.
One type of jewelry is made of tagua. They utilize tagua to make bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. The seed that is used to make tagua is about the size of a golf ball. It is very durable and it makes beautiful jewelry. The bracelets and necklaces made of tagua occasionally incorporate other natural materials. Bracelets seem to be the jewelry of choice to be made from tagua. A bracelet handmade from tagua is normally colorful and very distinct.
Guadua is used to make jewelry that is larger. It is utilized in making bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. Guadua is used equally in all three categories, because it is a larger material in its raw state. Normally jewelry made from this material is hand painted. Guadua is an excellent choice for earrings and necklaces.
Cana flecha is primarily used to hand make bracelets and rings. These products are usually woven from the cana flecha fibers.
Cuerno or horns are used by only a few to make primarily earrings. These earrings are some of the most unique pieces of art available in handmade jewelry, and they can be purchase for less than $20 a pair. This is a bargain for such an original creation. They are very scarce even in Ecuador where they are made.
Café is used in conjunction with other materials to make all kinds of jewelry. Most of this type of jewelry is made in Colombia and Ecuador.
Lastly is leather, which is used to make bracelets. This is the least utilized material but the most common. Compared to the other materials it is a little boring.
Discovering unique handmade jewelry and other handcrafted products is a very interesting venture. All of these unique products are a labor of love to the indigenous people who make them. Many times they are a creation reflecting their culture and their beliefs. They are art, history, and jewelry all included in one item.