I just received some beautiful sustainably zulugrass bracelets from the Leakey Collection. These bracelets and almost all their jewelry are made by people of the Maasai tribe in the Rift Valley area of Kenya, East Africa from zulugrass. What excites me the most about this collection is not only how beautiful the jewelry is, but how one simple piece can have so much impact on our world.
The production of this jewelry employs over 1200 Kenyans, and allows them to live a more traditional lifestyle in this ever changing modern world. It also helps to preserve native wetland habitat by allowing the sustainable harvest of the zulugrass instead of burning it for cattle grazing.
The process begins by harvesting grass, one blade at a time. The long grass is then dried and cut into bead-size pieces and dyed in an environmentally sustainable manner giving each bead a unique hue. The strung grass beads are matched with hand blown Czech glass beads or various other natural elements such as fallen wood, grass and porcelain to form the final piece.
The grass itself has a very unique texture, similar to bamboo once in its jewelry form. It is very hard and durable, waterproof in both salt water and fresh, colorfast, and long lasting. Any wood used for jewelry is collected from fallen wood of sustainable species of acacia and is hand tooled and burnished. There is no wax, lacquer or varnish used on any of the wood beads or wooden products.
The collection includes earrings, necklaces, bracelets, bangles and more made from sustainable grass, wood, porcelain and glass, along with other fashion accessories. Personally, I find the zulugrass bangles and several of the single strand bracelets paired together the most appealing. Check out the Leakey Collection website to learn more about the founders, the Maasai people and the beautiful sustainable jewelry they produce.