An orangutan pendant with purpose
An orangutan pendant with purpose – creating our first charity necklace
Whether you’re a long-standing Jana Reinhardt customer, or it’s your first browse of our site, you’ve probably noticed that much of our inspiration comes from wildlife and the natural world. Intricately carved creatures are at the heart of the majority of our collections. From the tiniest bird, to huge whales and exotic reptiles, we love creating jewellery versions of all our favourite animals from around the globe.
Like many people, we’re very alarmed about the increasing number of species in our world that are facing extinction. For some time, we’ve been planning to create special pieces of jewellery to highlight the plight of these vulnerable animals and then donate some of the proceeds from their sale to charity, but with so many good causes out there, we weren’t sure where to start.
Our decision was made after Jana watched the BBC's, ‘Saving the Orangutan’ programme. Filmed in Borneo, where the orangutans are now a critically endangered species, the show revealed that over half of Borneo’s orangutans have perished since 1999. The major reason behind their decline is deforestation, due to the massive expansion of palm oil plantations. 85% of palm oil comes from Indonesia and the rainforest is being destroyed, taking away the orangutan’s homes, sources of food and safety.
These amazing apes share 97% of our DNA and a recent study showed we have at least 28 unique physical characteristics in common with them. Watching the terrible plight of these wonderful creatures; from orphaned baby orangutans, to starving ape families and the bleak future of some of the animals who now live in captivity, you can’t help but be moved. But what can we do about it?
The programme explained that we can all help by trying to avoid products that contain palm oil, which we’ve been trying to do. We also decided that the orangutan had to be the first charity necklace we would create. Jana wanted to make a special orangutan piece, then £30 of the profits from the sale of every necklace would be donated Ovaid - a charity dedicated to providing veterinary equipment, medicines and sending vets to orangutan rescue groups and centres in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Jana spent a whole day carving a tiny orangutan from wax. She found it tricky to decide which size of monkey to depict and what pose the ape should take, but opted for a young orangutan, mid-climb. His, or her, tiny arms are stretched across the chain, as he, or she, would move across a tree limb in real life. This means there’s no need for a jump ring in the design, which makes the little ape look all the more lifelike.
Once the wax was finished, the orangutan was sent off to be cast. Lost wax casting is one of the few things we don’t currently do in-house at our workshop, as we simply don’t have the space or time for it. A couple of days later the silver casting was returned to us and we turned it into a master (which allows us to cast multiple pendants cast from it). If you’d like to know more about wax carving and how we make our jewellery, click here.
We were especially excited to see this pendant cast in precious metal. Designs always look slightly different in silver or gold, to how they appear in the wax carving. There was quite a debate between us to decide which precious metal we should use for our orangutan necklace. Jana was keen on copper, which is probably the most realistic colour for an orangutan, but copper is a base metal and Ross was worried it would tarnish. In the end, we decided to offer the necklace in our usual choice of sterling silver, 22ct yellow and rose gold vermeil and solid gold.
We were really happy with how the monkey looked cast in both silver, and gold, and think the design works well in each metal. When we receive castings back from the caster, we clean them up with files and emery paper, and then polish them for ages to get a super shiny finish. We’re really proud of how the design looks and it’s great to be able to use our skills as goldsmiths to raise funds for a cause we’re passionate about.
The orangutan necklace was launched on our site just after Christmas and by the beginning of January we’d already sold 10 necklaces, raising £300 for Ovaid. We will continue to sell the necklace on our site and going forwards 10% of each sale will be donated to Ovaid. You can shop the orangutan necklace here.
We’re delighted to start the year supporting such an important charity and are full of plans to support other worthwhile causes– watch this space.
More about Ovaid:
Founded in 2014, Ovaid, or Orangutan Veterinary Aid, is a voluntary run charity dedicated to providing veterinary equipment, medicines and practical veterinary presence and assistance to orangutan rescue centres in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Last year alone, they donated £53,451 worth of veterinary equipment to 22 orangutan and wildlife rescue organisations and funded two orangutan veterinary scholarships. To learn more about Ovaid’s incredibly important work or donate to them, visit: https://www.ovaid.org