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Zealandia Blog

Ancient Ivory Jewelry Inspired by Nature

  • Learning About Solitary Bees

    We love bees!

    For several years we have designed bee jewelry inspired by the plight of the honey bee. The honey bee population is declining at a nerve-wracking rate, due in part to colony collapse likely brought on by neonicotinoid insecticides. Beyond being a valued part of the ecosystem, honey bees are vital to the pollination process that gives us many delicious foods including avocado, cucumbers, apples, coffee, peppers, watermelon, lemons and limes.

    Solitary bee on a dandelion Solitary bee on a dandelion

    However, in addition to the honey bee, there are many pollinators who deserve our appreciation and support. There are nearly 20,000 species of bee and unlike the beloved honey bee, the largest percent of bees are solitary bees. Solitary bees are more efficient pollinators than honey bees and they rarely sting. (And when they do sting, it’s quite minor compared to a honey bee sting).

    How is a solitary bee different than a honey bee?

    Solitary bees often nest near each other, but they do not belong to a colony. They don’t work together, have a queen, or raise each other’s young. Solitary bees are not naturally aggressive or territorial and only the females have stingers, which they only use if handled roughly. Solitary bees are tremendous pollinators because unlike honey bees, who have pollen baskets on their legs to store pollen that they take back to the hive, solitary bees continually lose pollen as they visit each flower. This makes their pollination much more efficient!


    Honey bees with pollen baskets full of pollen to bring back to their hive. Honey bees with pollen baskets full of pollen to bring back to their hive.


    What is a mason bee?

    Mason bees are a kind of solitary bee that use natural materials to form their nests. That's where the name comes from - for the "masonry" type materials used in their nests. Mason bees are non-destructive; they don’t carve their own nesting cavities. Instead, they use any available tube-shaped structure like a hollow reed, nail hole, plant stem, or cracks in the wall. Using mud, mason bees create little pockets that each house one egg and enough pollen to sustain the larva after it hatches. The female eggs are laid toward the back of the cavity because the male eggs hatch first. After mating and finding a place for her eggs, the female mason bee works tirelessly to build her nest and harvest enough pollen for her eggs. Female mason bees live a short three months and die before their eggs hatch the following spring.

    Mason bees travel only a small distance from their nest – usually just a few hundred feet, whereas honeybees travel up to 2 miles from the hive. This makes mason bees wonderful pollinators to have in backyard gardens! They are also very docile and safe around children and pets.

    You can help mason bees thrive by providing them a home!

    Mason bee at the entrance of a bamboo hive Mason bee at the entrance of a bamboo hive

    You can buy a ready-to-use mason bee house, or you can try making your own. There are many styles of DIY mason bee homes – the more you poke around online, the more you’ll find! Mason beekeepers generally use paper straws or wood slats that can be opened and cleaned. Another option is a 4 x 4 block with holes drilled in it, however this is extremely difficult to clean and can develop mold and mites, which can be detrimental to mason bees. If you’re thinking you’d like to build a mason bee house with straws, just be sure to NOT use plastic straws as they don’t breathe or absorb moisture which can lead to mold. Any paper straw is fine, or bamboo if you have access to some.

    Mason beekeeping is becoming quite popular these days. Beekeepers will harvest the cocoons in the fall, keep them safe during the winter and bring them outside in early spring. Helping solitary bees thrive is one small thing we can do to help the overly taxed honeybees. If you’re not up for beekeeping, there are other options that are beneficial to all pollinators.

    How to help solitary bees

    • •Go easy on the plant cleanup; leave some dead plants for natural bee habitat.
    • •Allow open soil areas for mason bees to gather mud for their nests.
    • •Plant beneficial trees and flowers for pollinators. Here are a few suggestions: honey locust, crabapple, forsythia, fruit trees, elderberry, crocus, larkspur, lavender, honeysuckle, mint, and sunflowers.
    • •Don’t use harmful pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides! There are other ways to address unwanted bugs and weeds that don’t result in dead pollinators and a grocery store void of fruit, vegetables, nuts, and oils.


    • Mason bee
  • New Cat Jewelry at Zealandia Designs

    Early Zealandia cat designs shown in old catalogs

    Cat jewelry can be found throughout the Zealandia Jewelry line, going back to the breakout designs of the early 90s.

    Cat behavior is enticing to design around: they can be playful, regal, mischievous, and compassionate. It has been long known that living with a cat can help lower stress, anxiety, and inspire happiness. Albert Schweitzer said, “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.”

    New Zealandia Designs Cat Jewelry

    We’re delighted to add two new cat jewelry designs to the collection this year: the sweet pin/pendant “Companion” and the whimsical “Cat’s Meow” that is available in earrings and a matching pendant. The carvings for both of these designs captures the varying attitudes of cats, sure to delight any cat lover. Speaking of which, those cat-loving people have a name: ailurophiliacs.

    The “Companion” pin/pendant features two faceted amethyst stones and a sterling silver setting. The affectionate kitty is carved from fossilized walrus ivory. The colors of such a unique natural material can vary from creamy white to darker greys and browns. Here’s an article all about the color variation in fossilized ivories. If you have a special request for the coloring of your cat jewelry, please let us know and we'll do our best to accommodate!

    "Companion" - Hand carved fossilized walrus ivory pin/pendant with amethyst accents.
    "Cat's Meow" - Hand carved fossilized mammoth ivory cats with sterling silver dangling fish

    The “Cat’s Meow” pendant and earrings are real show stoppers. The design is playful and unique, while still being exquisitely crafted. The carvings are gorgeous and perfectly capture the allure of cats. If you’re looking for the quintessential gift for a cat lover, we’ve got you covered with our selection of cat jewelry.

    What Is It About Cats?

    It turns out a cats and humans both have identical regions in their brain responsible for emotions. (This is not the case with dogs. No judgement. Just saying…) Some cats talk a lot, others not so much. But either way, their sweet head bonks and meows are their best way of communicating with us. Did you know that cats don’t meow at other cats? They just meow at humans! Fascinating! That means it really is more than just noise - they really are telling you how much they love you while simultaneously demanding food.

    There’s something to be said for the life of a cat. They sleep for 2/3 of the day and spend the other third being adorable.  Seems like a reasonable balance, right?

    Cat spending time being adorable

    A few more fun facts about cats:

    • • A cat has 230 bones in its body (24 more than humans) and each ear is controlled by 32 muscles (26 more than humans).
    • • To climb down from a tree, a cat must climb down backwards. Every claw on the cat’s paw is facing the same direction, so it must back down the tree, tail first. (Squirrels have the same claw situation, however they can turn their back feet around to grip the tree while climbing down head first.)
    • • From a stand still cats can jump 5 times the length of their body.


    There is some debate about who said it first, but whoever it was, I think we can all agree: “time spent with cats is never wasted.”

  • 2017 Sale on Select Zealandia Designs Jewelry

    From now until the end of 2017, we have a 50% off sale on select Zealandia Designs necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. The playful gecko bracelet is hand carved from fossilized walrus ivory and has an adjustable toggle closure. Use coupon code GECKO for a whopping 50% off at checkout for this bracelet.

    Coupon code GECKO for 50% off this Zealandia Designs bracelet 50% Off Gecko Bracelet with coupon code GECKO

    We also have our classic ancient ivory bead necklaces, bracelet, and earrings on sale for 50% off. These are your classic goes-with-everything pieces that everyone appreciates having in their jewelry collection. These fossilized walrus ivory beads are made from walrus tusk that is 500-3,000 years old. The walrus tusk has lain in the earth for centuries, accreting a variegated rich caramel to cocoa hue. Its range of natural tones and rare quality make it a prized material in fine jewelry and artisan crafts. Fossilized walrus ivory is an important cultural and economic resource for the native Yupik who gather it for use in carving, sale, and trade.

    Coupon code SALE2017 for 50% off 50% off with coupon code SALE2017
    Coupon Code Sale2017 50% Off with coupon code SALE2017 


    Use coupon code SALE2017 at checkout for 50% off these items.

  • Ocean Jewelry Inspired by Diverse Ocean Critters

    Our ocean jewelry collection celebrates the beautiful diversity found in the seemingly endless ocean depths. We have jellyfish earrings, whale and dolphin pendants, and beautiful fish earrings. Our moonstone wielding octopus is a crowd favorite, as is the wiggly manta ray necklace with an articulated tail. The textures, colors, and patterns of the sea are rich with design inspiration and we are enchanted with the variety in the underwater world.

    Zealandia Designs Ocean Jewelry Collection A few key players in Zealandia Designs' Ocean Collection

    From the minuscule to the massive, the ocean is home to a stupendous array of life.  On the tiny end of the scale are zooplankton, of which there are hundreds of species but scientists know relatively little about them. Zooplankton feed on phytoplankton, also known as microalgea, which grows abundantly and is a primary food source for many ocean creatures. In fact, there is so much phytoplankton growing in the oceans that scientists estimate it produces about half of the oxygen in the world!


    Lion's Mane Jellyfish Lion's Mane Jellyfish

    On the enormous end of things are 500 pound giant clams, 200 ton blue whales, and lion’s mane jellyfish with tentacles reaching 49 feet long. Another enormously fascinating ocean beast is the Colossal Squid, which can grow up to 46 feet long. Believe it or not, the Colossal Squid’s brain is shaped like a donut, with its esophagus running through the donut hole! If that’s not jaw-droppingly-awesome, I don’t know what is.

    Puffer fish, in addition to being downright adorable, are exquisite artists. During the throws of courtship, the small fish creates intricate mandala crop circles on the ocean floor. Describing it only pales the work – check out this astonishing video: BBC-Planet Earth - Puffer Fish Courtship







    Sea Cucumber Sea Cucumber

    Sea Cucumbers aren’t quite as cuddly as puffer fish and don’t get nearly the attention they deserve. They are scavengers that help break down organic matter, a vital role in the ol’ circle of life. If under attack, the fierce sea cucumber can expel its own toxic internal organs toward the attacker, and then grow new organs later. That’s downright impressive! In case you’re looking for a project, you might want to start brainstorming collective noun ideas for sea cucumbers. As of the publishing of this post, there is no specific collective noun for a group of sea cucumbers and we think this is an egregious oversight. We’d like to formally go on record with the following suggestions: sprocket, fringe, or stampede.


    The diversity and beauty of the ocean is too amazing to take for granted. We encourage you to join us in supporting any of the various organizations that work to improve and protect our environment. We regularly donate to many groups including World Wildlife Fund, Ocean Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy.

    Oh, and here's a look at that wiggly manta ray pendant from the ocean jewelry collection:

  • Owl Jewelry to Promote Intuition and Patience

    Zealandia Design's Owl Jewelry

    The natural world provides endless inspiration for jewelry designs. From the ocean depths to the forested mountains, we revel in the beauty found within.  One of our more popular designs over the years has been our beloved owl jewelry.

    Owl Jewelry - Hand carved walrus ivory earrings and matching pendant The intriguing owl has a long and varied mythology among the world’s cultures. The owl is believed to have been the Greek goddess Athena’s mascot, valued for its inherent wisdom and serious qualities.

    Unless you live in the country or are an avid birder, seeing an owl is probably a rare occurrence. Owls easily blend into their surroundings, they are often most active at night, and they are skilled fliers with specialized feathers that make practically zero sound. Catching a glimpse of an owl is like finding a four leaf clover in a field: first you’re surprised at your good fortune and then cautiously optimistic, willing it to be more than just a trick of the light.


    Hand carved fossilized walrus ivory owl jewelry The Zuni tribe believed that an owl feather placed near a sleeping baby would help him slumber safely through the night. The owl is nocturnal, hunting its prey with an uncanny stealth and vision.



    What Makes Owls Unique?

    Owls are known to symbolize ancient knowledge and intuition. Considering their excellent night vision and hearing, it’s little wonder why; they can quite literally see in the dark. Owls are exquisite hunters. They have specific physical characteristics that give them an edge when hunting: their ear cavities are asymmetrical, which helps them pinpoint the exact location of prey. Their large eyes are surrounded by broad, flat “facial discs” that amplify even the tiniest sounds. A Great Grey owl can hear a mouse squeaking half a mile away. In addition to their exquisite vision, they can rotate their heads 270 degrees. They can actually see what’s behind them! No wonder they’ve earned the reputation of magic, mystery and wisdom.


    The smallest owl is an Elf Owl, weighing in at just 1 ounce. On the other side of the scale is the enormous Eagle Owl, weighing 10 pounds and with wings spanning over 6 feet. Owls are adaptive, as most successful creatures are. If their prey is active during the night, they’ll sleep during the day and vice versa. Some have even adapted to hunt fish! All owls are carnivorous and cannot chew their food so they swallow their prey whole. A hungry barn owl can eat up to 1000 mice per year.





    Owls Are Messengers of Change

    Looking at an owl in a tree is an intensely peaceful experience. They exude steady confidence and just stare right back at you, blinking slowly. In many cultures, it’s believed that owls can transition easily between the material and spiritual world, making them symbolic of change. Wearing owl jewelry might offer some reassurance during difficult times. After all, change is inevitable and "this too shall pass."

    When an owl shows up in your life, pay attention. The winds of change are blowing in.

    Click Here To See Other Unique Handcrafted Jewelry Designs

  • Unique Hummingbird Jewelry Inspired by Thrilling Flight of Hummingbirds

    The unique hummingbird jewelry at Zealandia Designs is one of our most popular collection of earrings, pendants, and necklaces. The graceful lines and thrilling flight of hummingbirds has inspired many jewelry designs like this gorgeous necklace that features four hummingbirds in-flight, hand carved from fossilized walrus ivory:

    'Hummingbirds' - This hummingbird necklace in silver and fossilized ivory depicts a flight of these beloved birds on a hook chain that beautifully accents the delicacy and lines in this favorite piece 'Hummingbirds' - This hummingbird necklace in silver and fossilized ivory depicts a flight of these beloved birds on a hook chain that beautifully accents the delicacy and lines in this favorite piece

    One of the many wonderful sights and sounds of summer is the magical and enchanting hummingbird. They are the smallest extant bird species and their incredibly rapid flapping is at a frequency audible to humans. The tell-tale buzz alerts us to their presence, sometimes even before we can see them darting through the air, among the trees, above the soccer field, and through the garden.

    Hummingbirds are known for their unique flying habits

    Like dragonflies, hummingbirds can fly up, down, left, right, forward, backwards and can even hover. When they hover, hummingbirds flap their wings in a figure-8 motion, roughly 50 times per second. The flap is stronger on the pull up than the push down, which creates appropriate lift to keep them in mid-air. Their rapid flight requires a lot of calories, which is mostly drawn from various nectar sources. Each day they consume 100-200% of their body weight in nectar, depending on the sugar content of the nectar. Their lower beak is flexible and can bend up to 25 degrees to help them catch protein-rich bugs.

    Want to attract more hummingbirds to your yard?

    Hummingbird hovering at a sugar water feeder Hummingbird hovering at a sugar water feeder

    Hummingbirds are nectarivores, which means their diet consists either exclusively or primarily on nectar-producing flowering plants. Many people enjoy putting out hummingbird feeders to entice the little sprites to come closer. The Hummingbird Society has some very helpful information about feeders including that you should never use red food dye and only fill the feeder with white granulated sugar mixed with water (not brown sugar, raw sugar or other sweeteners). For more information, take a look here: http://www.hummingbirdsociety.org/index-inside.php?Hummingbirds-101-Feeding-Hummingbirds-19

    If you’d like to offer natural sources of nectar to attract hummingbirds, consider growing columbine, trumpet vine, honeysuckle, bee balm, salvia, larkspur, cornflower, or zinnias. These flowers also attract bees and butterflies, so it’s a win win win win for everyone.

    Unique Hummingbird Jewelry, Then and Now

    Hummingbirds have enchanted humans throughout history. The Aztecs wore hummingbird talismans to symbolize vigor and energy. They also believed fallen warriors would return as hummingbirds and butterflies.  Hummingbirds have always fascinated us earth bound humans, who are left to gaze in wonderment as they zip about overhead. Our unique hummingbird jewelry is a nod to these thrilling flyers.

    Unique Hummingbird Jewelry from Zealandia Designs 'Hummingbird Spring' - Our fossilized ivory and silver hummingbird pendant depicts the graceful hummingbird sipping nectar in an art nouveau inspired setting.

    Hummingbird facts to bring to your next picnic:

    ** Koi and hummingbirds have something surprising in common: They both go into torpor, a deep-sleep state similar to hibernation, with extremely low metabolic rates to conserve energy during cold weather or times of scarce food.

    ** They can live 10+ years. Although the average life span for common North American species is more like 3-5 years.

    ** Their heart beats reach as high as 1260 beats per minute. (For perspective, a turkey’s is 193 BPM and a chicken’s is 300 BPM).

    ** Many species of hummingbirds make nests using lichen and spider silk. The spider silk allows the nest to expand as the babies grow.


    P.S. Your bonus Scrabble-word-from-the-blog is ‘torpor.’ Other Scrabble-word-from-the-blog words include ‘scute’ from the Sea Turtle blog and ‘radula’ from the Paua Shell blog.

  • Shedding Some Light on Paua Shell

    In addition to fossilized walrus and ancient mammoth ivories, Zealandia Design jewelry often incorporates mother of pearl, jaspers, ammonites, black mussels and New Zealand Paua shell. Paua’s colors are reminiscent of the ocean; sparkling blues and greens that roll in soft waves like in this radiant necklace:

    Paua shell jewelry by Zealandia Designs Sunset Spray - This striking silver and ancient ivory whale tail necklace features a hand worked amber sun and shell detail—an aquatic inspired treasure from our ancient ivory and paua jewelry collection.

    What is Paua?

    Paua is a species of abalone that is only found off the coasts of New Zealand, usually along shallow and rocky coasts. Abalone are in the Haliotus family, which has 56 species of edible herbivorous sea snails. All abalone species have colorful iridescent shells, although Paua is known for having the most colorful shell. Abalone are found worldwide, although the majority of the species are found in cold waters off the coasts of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, and Western North America.

    This is an abalone:

    Abalone opened showing meat and shell


    Polished abalone shells are used in a variety of hand crafts like jewelry, buttons, and inlay (for instruments and other woodworking). Abalone meat is highly regarded and is enjoyed both raw and cooked, world-wide.

    With a glance at an abalone shell, you might think it’s a bivalve (meaning two shells hinged together) like oysters, clams, scallops and muscles. However, an abalone consists of just one shell and a soft body that is attached to the shell. The body has a very strong muscle, known as the foot, that attaches the abalone to rocky surfaces. They are beautiful animals and surprisingly interesting to watch.

    Abalone clinging to a rock at low tide


    Fascinating Facts About Abalone:

    • * Like all mollusks, abalone eat with a finely toothed tongue called a radula. They are herbivores and eat only seaweed, preferring red or brown algae. They cling to rocks and snatch food floating by.
    • * One characteristic of abalone shells that makes them easy to identify are the open respiratory pores that line the shell’s outer edge. These holes vent water from the gills and also release sperm and egg during mating season.
    • * Abalone are hemophiliac. In case of a puncture wound or a cut, the abalone is unable to clot the wound.
    • * Some abalone are able to produce pearls. It is quite rare to find a wild abalone pearl, however since the meat is so popular and the shell is prized for artistic purposes, abalone has become a popular farmed animal. Under the controlled conditions, abalone pearls are able to be produced more consistently.


    The Paua Shell In Our Designs

    We feature paua shell in several of our jewelry pieces. Jenny, the lead designer at Zealandia Designs, is from New Zealand and has an affinity for this beautiful material. The iridescent colors of paua shell complements the earth tone colors of the fossilized ivory to create a striking piece of jewelry.

    The colors found in paua shells include metallic blues and greens, iridescent pinks and purples, and some magical reflections. The hand carved ivory that ranges in color and the varied coloration of paua makes each one spectacularly unique.

    Radiant examples of paua shell jewelry featured in Zealandia Designs jewelry. Radiant examples of paua shell featured in Zealandia Designs jewelry.

    All of the paua we use in our jewelry is sustainably sourced from a paua farm in New Zealand. We are passionately against poaching of any kind, including abalone. There is an extensive black market for abalone meat. Anywhere you find abalone naturally present, you’ll also find very strict collection laws. Every year abalone poaching results in millions of dollars in illegal trade and has become a global concern. We are committed to making a positive contribution to the world and regularly donate to several global organizations who promote wildlife and environmental conservation.



  • Dragonfly Jewelry Inspired by Fascinating Odonates

    Dragonfly Jewelry

    There is something easy to love about dragonflies. It's more than just their acrobatic flying and rich iridescent colors; their metamorphosis from nymph to adult signifies self-change and offers a sense of renewal. Dragonflies represent purity, speed, agility, and although they look rather delicate, they are actually quite robust. Dragonfly jewelry is a powerful symbol to carry with you and is a meaningful way to connect to the natural world around you.

    Dragonfly Jewelry Dragonfly II - made with 14kt gold fill, sterling silver, paua shell, and fossilized walrus ivory.

    Metamorphosis of Dragonflies

    Dragonfly eggs hatch into aquatic nymphs, which then grow for anywhere between two weeks to five years, depending on the size of the species. They molt up to 15 times as they grow, before finally exiting the water and molting one last time into a mature dragonfly with wings.

    An adult dragonfly lives for only a few weeks, having spent the vast majority of its life as a water-dwelling nymph. Seeing a dragonfly is even more magical now, isn’t it? Now that you know it had an expansive aquatic lifetime leading to the narrow window of time in which you caught a glimpse of it zipping through the air. Nature’s timing is a beautiful thing to witness.

    Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. Lao Tzu

    Dragonfly jewelry Dragonfly Dreams pin and pendant made with 14kt gold fill, paua shell, fossilized walrus ivory, and sterling silver

    Looking For a New Hobby?

    As far as their scientific classification, dragonflies are part of the Odonata order. Dragonflies are sought out as a hobby, much like bird-watching, and the practice is known as oding. Of the 457 species of odonates, 225 have been observed in Texas. So if you’re really looking for some odonata sightings, grab a field guide and head to the lone star state. Some of the dragonfly names are fantastic: Spiny Baskettail, Flame Skimmer, Pacific Spiketail, Widow Skimmer – they sound like they could be real dragons, don’t they?

    Damselflies are also part of the odonata order. Dragonflies and damselflies are very similar and often mistaken for one another. However, this article does an excellent job explaining the four distinct visual differences between dragonflies and damselflies: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/how-tell-difference-between-dragonfly-and-damselfly

    Indicators of a Healthy Ecosystem

    Adult dragonflies have extremely good eyesight and are exceptional fliers. They can even fly backwards! Their strong, agile flight makes them a fierce predator of many insects, including pesky mosquitoes. A dragonfly can consume as much as a fifth of its body weight in just one day! They are definitely a “good bug” to have around.

    Because they consume many insects and are consumed by many animals, dragonflies are an important species to the health of many ecosystems. They are also a good indicator of water quality. Some call them the “canary” of waterways for their sensitivity to pollution, as they rely on clean water for their eggs and nymphs.

    There is much to be learned from the world around us and there are so many creatures willing to teach us. Observation and admiration are a good start to understanding the delicate web that ties us all together. At Zealandia Designs we are continuously motivated and inspired by the natural world and we hope you find connection and personal meaning in the jewelry we create.

    Dragonfly Jewelry Tribal Dragonfly - made with sterling silver and hand-carved fossilized walrus ivory

    Shop Our Dragonfly Jewelry Collection

  • Sea Turtle Jewelry and Conservation

    Zealandia Design's Turtle Jewelry

    ocean dreams Fossilized Walrus Tusk and Blue Topaz - "Ocean Dreams"

    Zealandia’s turtle jewelry collection has been a highlight of the line for many years. Collectors connect with this totemic animal for its very special symbolism. The turtle has come to represent grounding, emotional balance, age-old wisdom, and persistence. Turtles carve a peaceful and graceful path through life. They cross the barrier between land and water with ease, and they epitomize a kind of knowing that we can sense in their serene, wizened faces.

    We have long been enchanted with the sea turtle's ancient wisdom and gracious, gentle soul. We adore sea turtles here at Zealandia Designs; our turtle jewelry is inspired by the beautiful patterns of turtle shells, by their peaceful determination, and their patient, easy-going nature.

    Sea Turtle Reminders

    Our hand carved turtle jewelry is created with natural materials, which makes each piece truly one-of-a-kind. Turtles remind us to be deliberate with our decisions and to be patient as we work toward our long-term goals. Turtle jewelry can be a helpful reminder to ease your pace and enjoy the journey.

    Turtles inhabit nearly all the earth’s ocean basins which give them a rich history and presence in many cultures. Turtles are an emblem of longevity (they can live 100+ years) and they symbolize good health, determination and are often depicted as wise and laid back. With so many desirable attributes, it’s easy to see why they have played such a prominent role in so many cultures across the globe, from sacred folk lore to fairy tales to cartoons.hawaiian-green-sea-turtle-1-1482511-1279x862

    Fascinating Facts about Sea Turtles:

    *Sea turtles are one of Earth’s most ancient animals. The seven extant species alive today have been around for 110 million years.

    *The shell of a turtle is made up of smaller plates called “scutes” (there’s a good NYT crossword puzzle answer for you!), which shed thin scales as the shell grows.

    *Leatherback sea turtles can travel more than 10,000 miles per year.

    *Sea turtles have temperature-dependant sex determination, which means the temperature of the nest environment determines the developing turtles sex.

    *Males never leave the water; females come ashore only to lay eggs and most will return to the same nesting site from which they were born.

    *Sea turtles lay around 100 eggs at a time and on average only one of these will survive into adulthood.


    Of the seven species of sea turtles, five are classified as endangered. They are threatened by commercial fishing, ocean pollution, climate change, coastal development and are avidly hunted by humans for their shells, meat, skin and eggs. Zealandia Designs regularly donates to many conservation groups who are committed to stop the decline of sea turtles, including World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Defense Fund, Ocean Conservancy, and Defenders of Wildlife.

    “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” Jane Goodall

  • What Causes the Coloration in Fossilized Ivory?

    At Zealandia Designs we specialize in making beautiful nature-inspired jewelry, primarily using ancient mammoth and fossilized walrus ivory. The naturally occurring colors of the ivory we use varies significantly from piece to piece, giving each one a truly unique appearance. The reason behind the coloration in fossilized ivory is an interesting one!

    What is the difference between fossilized mammoth and walrus ivory?

    Sometimes a certain design is specifically suited to a darker or lighter color and we purposely choose which kind of ivory is used. For example, when it comes to the polar bear pieces, we want them to be relatively consistent shades of creamy white, so we prefer to use only pale colored fossilized mammoth ivory. If you look closely, you can still certainly see different patterns and textures in this ivory, but the overall coloring is quite similar.

    coloration in fossilized ivory “Vanishing Ice Cap” – made with ancient mammoth ivory

    Fossilized mammoth ivory tends to be shades of pale cream and white but can also be found in darker colors.  Ancient walrus ivory, on the other hand, often appears in shades of cream, caramel, umber or cocoa. The display of color in the ivory enhances the piece by making it truly unique.

    When a jewelry piece is created with fossilized ivory, it takes on a unique presentation that makes it one-of-a-kind. We encourage our customers to develop an eye for the different coloration in the fossilized ivory and appreciate how extraordinary it makes each piece. If you prefer an ivory that has more brown, cream or white tones to it, please be sure to let us know and we’ll do our best to accommodate if the option is available for that style. This can be particularly fun when it comes to certain pieces, like our cat collection – most folks would want to match their favorite feline, right? Look how widely the coloring varies in these cats:

    coloration in fossilized ivory “Mischief” – made with fossilized walrus ivory

    Here is another style, in fossilized mammoth like the light colored polar bears, but with a wider variety of coloration:

    coloration in fossilized ivory “Turtle Spirit” – made with ancient mammoth ivory

    What causes the different coloration in fossilized ivory?

    Fossilized ivory spends most of its long life underground, in close contact with a variety of minerals. The minerals leech into the ivory, causing it to slowly accrete coloration. Depending on the immediate soil surrounding the animal and the length of time it was buried, the mineralization of the ivory takes on different hues of brown, tan, beige, and grey.

    Minerals and related color hues:
    carbon – black
    cobalt – green/blue
    chromium – green/blue
    copper – green/blue
    iron oxides – red, brown, and yellow
    manganese – pink/orange
    manganese oxides – black

    Where does our fossilized walrus ivory come from?

    The native Yupik of St. Lawrence Island, Alaska, have the exclusive right to gather the fossilized walrus ivory we use in our designs. This precious ancient material is an important part of the Yupik's economy and heritage, and it is the inspiration behind many of our most beloved jewelry pieces. After centuries lying buried in darkness, it comes to light in these gorgeous designs that showcases the varied coloration in fossilized ivory. Each piece is hand carved, with uniquely pigmented ivory, resulting in an exceptionally original piece of jewelry.

    fossilized walrus ivory, Zealandia Designs Fossilized walrus ivory from a buying trip to St. Lawrence

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