Real or Artificial Elephant Hair?

In the attached picture one of these bracelets is at least 60 years old (maybe even 100) and the other one is about 60 minutes old! It is such a joy to make something like they did so long ago in the bush. In fact it was fun to restore the very old, very real elephant hair bracelet, if for no other reason than to see how the magic knots of Africa were tied back then.

A real and an artificial elephant hair bracelet with gold knots

Clearly the knots on both are new. I did them on the same day after a European client asked me if I could restore the bracelet his father gave him 45 years ago in Mombasa, Kenya. It was great to see the old design and also now you see why my designs are so similar to those traditionally worn in East Africa. This contrasts strongly with the big chunky ones I have been asked to repair in the past. They are usually much newer and more fragile and hastily made to appease a tourist or hunter. I hear people say “Oh, I bought it on the streets of Cape Town or Johannesburg, so it must be legal.”

Wow, how naive can you be? Commercial trade in elephant products is illegal in most parts of the world nowadays, with a few exceptions if you have the right Cites permits. So that elephant tail hair from a street side vendor is probably from a poached elephant – a market no one should support. But I think it is OK for me to rework the knots on very old ones like I did here.

If you like the look and feel of an elephant hair bracelet, and don’t want a silver, gold or copper one from my collection, then look into artificial hair models. Only you will know the difference when wearing one in public and no elephants will be harmed in the process. You can even order them as combo models with silver and artificial hair models, or gold/hair or even (as two of my clients suggested) gold/silver/black tricolor models.

PS If you look in a big dictionary you will see they define artificial as a synthetic material that has been reworked by hand to make it look even more realistic.

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Elephant Hair Knot Bracelets and Safari Jewelry