Cultures all over the world have been making unique handmade jewelry since the beginning of time using bone and other organic materials. Today, the Maori still continue this tradition of creating fine handmade jewelry and unique jewelry designs.
One of the most common materials that the Maori use for creating jewelry is bone. The material composition of bone is soft enough to engrave and carve, yet durable and made from gelatinous protein compounds and calcium phosphate. It also makes an excellent substitute for ivory, due to the fact that the calcium turns it into a classic white color. The porous, white surface of bone makes it easy to dye and create unique jewelry designs, as the Maori have been doing for centuries.
Caring for your bone jewelry is fairly easy, and it requires minimal maintenance. For starters, you should learn about the particular type of bone that was used to make your bone jewelry. While most bone types share similar basic properties, each bone type has specific characteristics. For the most part, the organic composition of bone and horn is porous and allows the skin to breath when worn, however, in time it can dry out which results in cracks that attract bacteria if it is not properly cared for. The good news is that simple monthly maintenance can allow your handmade jewelry to keep its smoothness and beauty for a long time.
One of the most basic elements of caring for bone jewelry is avoiding extreme conditions. Bone jewelry should not be soaked in water for long periods, and if it has, then it should be dried and oiled straightaway. So, it should not be worn for long periods when bathing, showering or swimming. Humidity can be very hard on bone and can cause it to warp, so it is recommended to keep bone jewelry in a place with drier air and conditions. It is alright to wash bone jewelry with anti-bacterial soap, however, it should not be washed with regular soap or be autoclave.
Bone jewelry should not be left in direct sunlight for long periods of time or exposed to extreme temperatures due to the organic and degradable composition of bone. The best way to care for bone jewelry is to periodically (about once a month or so) wash it with mild anti-bacterial soap and lightly polish it with extra virgin olive oil, pure coconut oil or jojoba oil.
Even though bone is one of the most popular organic materials for making [unique jewelry designs], most people fail to realize just how delicate it actually is. Even bone jewelry that is made of thicker pieces should be handled carefully. Bone that is in constant contact with skin or becomes wet, can develop a lustrous appearance and change colors from the body oils or water. It should also be noted that bone jewelry should not be worn in initial piercings or unhealed piercings/stretches due to the fact that bone cannot be sterilized in the same way that metals can.
Bone, aside from being one of the most popular organic materials with a long and intriguing history, can create some of the most unique jewelry designs. However, proper maintenance and care is what will ensure a long and lasting life for bone jewelry.