By Tamera Adams

With the help of a New York-based organization, Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO), a project that turns weapons into jewelry has raised $300,000 to support rural Zambian communities and preserve wildlife. A total of 750 confiscated firearms and 40,000 wire snares previously used to capture endangered wildlife in Luangwa Valley are now necklaces, bracelets, anklets and earrings.

Zambian jeweler Misozi Kadewele and a group of local women created the collection, called Snarewear. The pieces are made of wild fruit beads and steel wire from the snares and range from $15 to $30.

Director of the project Dale Lewis told Voice of America News that the jewelry is popular with Zambian tourists and sells internationally on COMACO's Web site It's Wild

The weaponry used to make the jewelry came from farmers living in remote areas who turned to poaching as a means of survival when they were unable to find food or market products to produce. The project, which is under the auspices of Wildlife Conservation Society International, teaches the farmers other ways to make money too.

Armed with skills such as organic and fish farming, bee keeping and carpentry, these one-time poachers can redirect their energies to the preservation of Zambia's Luangwa Valley. In Africa's greatest wildlife ecosystem, the black rhino has become extinct and the elephant population is down by half.

In related news, jewelry and wildlife enthusiasts interested in protecting the Asian Elephant and the Giant Panda had their pick of jewelry recently at Sotheby's Amsterdam. Funds from the sale benefited the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), a global conservation organization. The anonymous consigner created a special fund that focuses on preservation of those particular species.

A gold tree set with gemstone ornaments, a diamond "Ram's Head" necklace by Cartier (pictured) and a small Buccellati seated-monkey figurine were among the items up for sale.

Get the Daily News >
National Jeweler

Fine Jewelry Industry News

Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.