Our tribal hook shaped mammoth ivory earrings are a graceful and evocative pair inspired by Maori legend and fishing lore, and by one of our designers' favorite muses, the sea.
Jenny Byrne, Zealandia's lead designer, was born and raised in New Zealand where like many Kiwis she was influenced by Maori art and legend. One Maori tale tells of hei matau, the fish hook carvings that are considered good luck charms and talismans for safe passage across the sea. Legend has it that the fabled mariner Maui caught a gigantic fish—which would later become the New Zealand's North Island—with a hook fashioned from his grandmother's jawbone. The hei matau shape was born.
Our tribal hook shape is modified from traditional Maori hei matau, but its mariner influence is still keenly felt. Hand worked sterling silver and an oxidized silver background form the hook silhouette in these carved ivory earrings that highlight an ancient material, fossilized mammoth ivory.
Our fossilized mammoth ivory predates even the Maori legend to over 15,000 years ago when the great mammoths still roamed the earth. It is buried in permafrost or underground for most of its very long life. If buried in the earth, the mammoth ivory accretes warm caramel and cocoa hues from nearby minerals. It is a prized focal point in fossilized ivory jewelry designs such as these mammoth ivory earrings, lending them a touch of antiquity and mystery.