Otavalo Staurday Market
Volcano Quilotoa Lagoon

Discover How A Nut Turned Into Jewelry Known As Taguarte!

Day 54 Taugarte!

Focus on the art of taking a rather plentiful, simple, product of nature and turning it into a beautiful work of art is the endeavor of many, and the accomplishment of select few. Since the late 1800’s tagua was used to make buttons and for 80 years was in great demand around the world. Then came plastic, and tagua nearly disappeared.

Tagua has been used for carving figures and various types of jewelry for centuries, so has not disappeared from the marketplace. But there has been little change in the type of items made from the small nut that comes from the Palm Pod.

This story begins in Ecuador, nestled in the mountains of Quito. Out of what could be seen as the ashes from closure of a button factory, has risen up the Phoenix of Taguarte! With hundreds of tagua nuts left over in a bodega, Patricia Morales Celi couldn’t stand the idea of these being wasted. Being extremely creative and having an artistic flair, Patricia began to experiment with the nuts.

Using tools that were available to her, the first efforts were rudimentary and perhaps could be compared to those normally seen anywhere in Ecuador. This was not satisfactory to such creative genius, and efforts to do something radical and exclusive began to form in Patricia’s imagination.

Her efforts were noticed by friends and acquaintances for their creativeness, unique, exclusive, one of a kind look, and the die was cast for the beginnings of Taguarte.


It could be said that a love affair developed between Patricia and tagua. A passionate study began to discover the secrets of tagua, and what could be done with vibrant colors, hues and textures to this ivory-like substance. It was not about engraving or scrimshaw that was customary in Ecuador. 

Unique enough to create a patent was the result of her years spent developing and creating the absolutely fabulous jewelry that is today known around the world as “Taguarte!” Patmoracel® is a recognized trademark in most parts of the world.

It is with absolute pride and humility that I have had the privilege and pleasure of meeting Patricia Morales Celi, and seeing first hand her incredible talent. She lives with creativeness, and the drawing pad is a constant witness to her muse. 


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