The Brant was the first men’s bracelet I designed, 12 years ago.
My husband David, the typical man who never wore jewelry, would only agree to wear my cufflinks and belt buckles - anything else was out of question. Even after we got married he wore his wedding band only for a year until he’d built up the nerve to just take it off. “I don’t like to wear jewelry…it has nothing to do with my commitment. It is just too tight on me and makes me uncomfortable.” I decided to take mine off as well, to spite him, but of course he didn’t mind, not a bit.
One day his interest was piqued by a bracelet made of elephant hair he saw on a French friend of ours. He casually said: “I would wear something like that”. That was my cue…
Under no circumstances were we going to buy a bracelet made of elephant hair, a material labeled as endangered species. Fortuitously, my brother was dating a girl from Zimbabwe at the time who knew a Congolese artisan who crafted bracelets made of hand sliced buffalo horn fibers, very similar to elephant hair but ethically sourced and sustainable.
Many samples later, the Brant was born.
I often hear from animal lovers admonishing me for using water buffalo horn. Little do they know…
While it is natural to associate buffalo horns with elephant tusks and rhino horns, water buffaloes are not endangered. They are an integral part of farmers’ lives in Vietnam and Laos, providing milk and meat for consumption. Their horn is recycled into beautiful jewelry and home accessories.
Buffalo horn is soft enough to be worked easily, but hard and tough enough to be extremely durable. Horns are made of keratin, the same protein-based substance that makes up your fingernails.
Ethically sourced Asian water buffalo horns
The large tubular horn is first cut in half, then boiled and hand sliced, a very arduous, intricate and complex process. The hairlike fibers are either woven or set in straight, in a puzzle like way, held by narrow links.
The bracelet is then molded into the shape of a wrist and closed with an 18kt gold clasp. During the manufacturing process, some oil is applied, giving the fibers its rich black luster. With time and through showering, swimming, etc, the oil wears off and the bracelet slowly recaptures the original gray patina of the natural horn.The creation of a single buffalo horn bracelet takes three days, from start to finish.
The Brant is obviously masculine in its sensibility and I love that aspect of it. The horn element acts like armor-wear, making the wearer feel protected, powerful and beautiful.
Original, distinct and chic, it is also very versatile and works magically on a man or woman. It is the ultimate jewelry accessory that is transformative in nature and adds personality and polish to any casual look.
David has never taken his off and recently felt very naked when I had to refurbish it from wear and tear. I wear mine with diamonds, just because the rest of my jewelry is so understated.
We obviously put meticulous thought into our designs, as well as our materials to ensure quality that is built to last, and uniqueness that showcases craft and authenticity. While we love all sorts of natural materials like wood, vegetable ivory, gems, and stones, we have a special place in our heart for this unique material. It’s as if the soul of the buffalo lives on to protect you and make you the confident person you ought to be.
The craftsman who makes these bracelets is turning 70 years old next year. He is a lone ranger like me, has no apprentice and has been making these bracelets by himself, exclusively for me. I am not sure how much longer he will be able to make them before he decides to retire; and given he is the only one capable of such craft, I am afraid his know-how will disappear with him unless I buy his very well guarded secrets.
If someone is interested in partnering up to secure in-house proprietary manufacturing and set up a vertical shop, let me know… I am all ears. It could be fun...:)