Wild rubber bling

A beautiful new range of eco-jewellery supports the rainforest and its communities.

Today the model and environmentalist Lily Cole launches a range of eco-sound jewellery in collaboration with Sky Rainforest Rescue (a partnership between Sky and WWF). 

The limited edition collection of earrings, pendants and rings is made with Amazonian wild rubber sourced by rubber tappers in the Sky Rainforest Rescue project area in Acre, Northwest Brazil.

Acre was once a major centre of rubber production, where skilled locals tapped the trees for rubber. But synthetic and plantation rubbers gradually came to dominate the market, since they are more cost-effective. As a result the local communities at Acre turned to forms of agriculture that damage the rainforest.

All profits raised from the sales of Cole’s jewellery will go to Sky Rainforest Rescue, which aims to save one billion trees by resurrecting traditional wild rubber harvesting. 

The rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) contains latex in vessels in its bark, which can be tapped once the tree is six years old. This is a highly skillful job because the tapping cut must be shallow enough not to harm the tree and in line with the vessels that run through the bark in a spiralling helix shape. 

The incision forms a ‘tapping panel’. Latex is yielded from the panel regularly over a 5-year period, after which a panel is cut on the other side of the tree. The rubber is collected early in the day or at night, when the latex is fluid. 

Rubber may not sound sexy or elegant, but Cole’s jewellery is gorgeous and selling fast. Get it while you can, from Stylist Pick. 

Cole is also involved in ethically-sound knitwear brand The North Circular.

Hazel Sillver is a freelance journalist and a contributor to the Ecologist Green Living section; email: hazel@theecologist.org


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