Jungle Jewels, an initiative to support women in Trichy, makes jewellery straight from nature’s bounty – the seeds of trees.
About 2500 years ago, the queens of Tamil Nadu flaunted their beauty by adorning themselves with jewellery made from wild seeds, not gold.
Seeds were revered as keepers of life by our ancients – witness the use of simple rudraksha and tulsi seeds in jewellery even today.
Jungle Jewels is a social enterprise that is bringing back this traditional practice in modern times – wearables made with natural threads and laden with seeds of trees.
This enterprise is an initiative of Ansa, an herbal park in Trichy founded by Jaganathan, a nature enthusiast and a social worker. The park is home to an exhaustive collection of medicinal plants and trees. Apart from being a hub for botanical learning, the park also supports many humanitarian activities.
Jaganathan’s son, Balamurali, who now takes care of the park, was on the lookout for an idea that would provide employment to some marginalized women in the Ansa community. His team hit upon the idea of making jewellery but wanted to create something unique, given that there are millions of jewellery makers all over India. That’s when it struck them – the park is abundant with seeds of various varieties that fall freely from the trees. Why not make jewellery with them? But no one in the team knew how exactly to go about the task.
“We explored, asked designers, experimented, failed, and then finally taught ourselves the art of making jewellery with wild seeds,” says Balamurali.
Rice kernels, coral tree seeds, canna seeds, and many such bright and charming pits and stones were strung together to make necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets, and anklets.
The seeds were chosen in an environmentally conscious manner – only seeds that were abundantly available were picked. No seeds of endangered tree varieties were used. The team put their experience in running a botanical park to good use by identifying non-poisonous and non-perishable seeds to make the jewellery. These seeds live on for many years without any damage. They could, of course, invite fungus if kept in humid places. But they can be wiped clean and stored in a dry place to preserve them for long.
Jungle Jewels employs women from marginalised backgrounds who are meticulously trained to become skilled artisans of this beautiful form of jewellery.
The enterprise also encourages home-based employment for women across the country to market and sell the products of Jungle Jewels. By using natural materials to make these ornaments and by training and employing disadvantaged women, this eco friendly jewellery manufacturer is indeed displaying responsibility towards the planet.