From questioning to the ethics of horn jewelry to evangelist

The first time I discovered buffalo horn jewelry, I had a sour taste in my mouth and thought "how is that ethical? Isn't that animal cruelty?" I'm sure if you are learning about it for the first time, you'll have the same reaction. 

Over time, I reflected on my typical lifestyle. I do eat meat and I enjoy beef -- from my mother's phở bò (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) and bò lúc lắc (a French-inspired Vietnamese beef dish with onions, bell peppers and more). And I do enjoy a fatty bacon cheeseburger or a hunk of steak once in a while. Of course, I never think about the cow that I am eating. I just eat it because it's part of my culture and I know they are breed for our consumption.

From all those cows we breed to consume and the water buffalos we raise for agricultural purposes that natural dies, there are other parts that could be creatively used to create other things. And in Vietnam, nothing of the cow or buffalo goes to waste. The buffalo's skin is used to make leather goods, like your handbags, wallet, or belts; and their horns and bones are repurposed to make jewelry and accessories. Many artisans in various craft villages in Vietnam and Kenya has been doing this for years, creating horn jewelry for luxe brand like Hermès and Ashley Pittman


After learning more about repurposed horns, I completely fell in love with horn jewelry. Besides the fact that it's beautifully unique in color and patterns, it's also eco-friendly. Horns, like our fingernails, are compostable. As a matter of fact, after the horn pieces are cut to make horn earrings, horn necklaces and more - there are plenty of horn dusts and horn powder that are used as fertilizer in Vietnam.


It really is a beautiful circle of life with horn jewelry. Especially in Vietnam, where...

    • Water buffalos are an essential part of farmers life. They provide milk for their families and help farmers harvest their endless rice paddies.
    • Then when they die, their skin are used for leather goods and their hones and bones are used to make jewelry and other home accessories like (combs, cups, spoons, and small plates).
    • From jewelry and accessories, they can make horn powder to use as fertilizer for their farms, which not only provides vegetables for people but meals for other water buffalos. 

It's simply fascinating! Seeing from many art forms in Vietnam like paintings and stories, water buffalos are highly appreciated and beloved. From questioning the ethics of horn jewelry, I am now an horn jewelry designer and evangelist. Yes, everyone must get one! :) 

Radiate Beauty Inside and Out,

Jessica Phan

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