By Michelle Graff
I was delighted Thursday afternoon when I received a package containing a Tagua ring by eco-friendly jewelry designer Lisa Linhardt, whose eponymous jewelry gallery coincidentally is located just blocks from my own apartment.

Ahhh, I've always loved getting fun things in the mail. What made this particular package even more special, though, was how I acquired it and who will benefit from this purchase (besides myself - I've been wearing the ring ever since I tore open the envelope early yesterday afternoon).

I won the ring at the recent Jewelers That Care silent auction, held during last month's JA New York 
Me wearing Tagua
Summer Show. The super-cool piece, shown here (though the picture doesn't do it justice), is crafted from  tagua seed, a seed from the tagua palm tree that grows in the rainforests of South America. According to Lindhardt's Web site, most of her tagua originates in Ecuador and Colombia. It functions as a more eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to elephant ivory. You can read more about Lisa, her stance on sustainability and her jewelry by clicking here.

All funds raised by the Jewelers That Care auction will go toward building a water well for the Alasai village in Arusha, Tanzania. Gemologist and Jewelers That Care founder Alethe Clemetson, whose resume includes such prestigious names as Lazare Kaplan, Tiffany & Co. and David Yurman, said the organization needs to raise $28,000 to build the well, which will provide much-needed clean water to the residents of this rural village.

Clemetson acknowledges that Jewelers That Care is "not very close" to reaching its goal. The organization needs all the donations it can get.

If you want to help the cause along, you can donate online, at trade shows or by sending a check to: Jewelers That Care, P.O. Box 380-552, Brooklyn, N.Y., 11238. Retailers also can host in-store events, which are a great way to help out the organization while also sending a message to customers that you truly are a jeweler who cares.

Another and, to me, the most appealing option is the "Investors Trip" to Tanzania where visitors will have a chance to meet the villagers who are directly benefiting from Jewelers That Care donations and also take a little side trip for a safari. It is open to anyone who wants to go, and the cost is airfare and accommodations plus a donation to Jewelers That Care. Clemetson said the trip should be organized by years' end.

Want to lend a hand to Jewelers that Care, hold an event or travel to Tanzania? You can start by clicking here.

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