One of the materials you’ll find in our jewelry that we get asked about a lot is horn and we’re excited to share some facts on this wonderful material. The use of horn for jewelry goes back hundreds of years, especially in Asia and more recently in Western countries.
History of Horn as a Decorative Material
Horn was frequently used in Art Nouveau jewelry. René Lalique (better known for his beautiful glass) was partial to materials not commonly used by his peers and horn along with coral, rock crystal and enamel were some of the alternatives he selected. He is credited with starting the horn trend in 1896 and using buffalo horn which was pliable with heat and could be dyed. It was also prized for its colors. “Lalique revolutionized jewelry design in the final decade of the 19th century combining materials in unexpected ways, developing new technique and reviving old ones..” (Manty, K.)
Figure 1 Source: Antique Trader – Lalique hair comb
A more contemporary example of horn used for jewelry comes from the Hermes design house which embraced the versatility and beauty of this material.
Figure 2 Hermes horn necklace and earring examples (sources: Hermes website and Vestiaire Collective website)
Why Horn is Prized
Horn is a wonderfully sustainable material, frequently made from the horns of water buffalo to ensure the minimum of waste and no animals are killed for their horn. Unlike rhino horns and elephant tusks, water buffalo horns are a byproduct of the food and agriculture industry. Jewelry makers prize it for its range of colors, from nearly opaque to deep, rich browns. It is a low density and light weight material making it easy to carve and form into shapes. No waste comes from using horn as any excess material from making the jewelry is ground to a powder and used for fertilizer.
Care of Horn
If you’ve never considered horn before, it's time to appreciate the exquisite jewelry made from master artisans. Do not overlook this beautiful and versatile material for your jewelry and accessories. It is durable and easy to care for, wipe the horn jewelry off with a soft cloth and store in a protective bag separate from your other pieces especially with stones which can scratch. As you can see from the history of horn, these pieces are meant to last and with a bit of care, they will do just that
Examples of Horn at Sundara Joon
Here are just a few examples of some wonderful horn pieces our artists have crafted and can be found on our site: