Koa Wood Jewelry, the New Entrant in the Galleries

March 07, 2020

koa jewelry

The Koa, an indigenous species of trees from the islands of Hawaii has come to the fore as a jewelry adornment with the rise of eco-conscious choices among buyers. Rich in colors and grainy in texture, the Koa wood is a product of the Koa trees that are typically found in the Big Island. 

Although legendary in its place of origin, the wood has made its way into the larger industry very recently. Used to embellish handcrafted Aloha jewelry, today, this wood has gained popular attention worldwide for its intriguing aesthetics and eco-friendly character. 


The Koa trees are a heritage in Hawaii. The Hawaiian people deem it as sacred. But the Koa is more than just a part of the island’s natural vegetation and the local religion. Early on, the Koa wood has supplied building materials for canoes and weapons. With the Koa canoes and arms, king Kamehameha’s men embarked on voyages out to the island cluster of Hawaii bringing them together under his yoke.  

Soon the wood became so popular that anybody but royalties could possess it. The king enforced a kapu system that prohibited everybody who is not from the monarch clan or class to own it. But that changed when Kamehameha the Great passed and the prince and his widow abolished the kapu act making it legal for anybody who can afford Koa to own it. 

Now Koa being widely available on the island, it became an intrinsic part of the people’s early life. There were bowls carved out of Koa wood, instruments made of Koa wood and jewelry designed with Koa wood. In the 1800s, with the rise of ranchers on the island, a large majority of the Koa tree forests were felled in favor of creating cattle farms. That thinned out the Koa population by an alarming measure. 

For decades, the Koa got no attention but continued to grow obscurely on the Big Island. Growing on the volcanic soil of the island, the Koa trees are rich red in colors. The grain pattern on the wood is curly and rippling. These trees lend the curly Koa wood popular worldwide. The Koa wood we see today are dark red in color and densely grainy in a pattern. 


The name “Koa” in Hawaiian tongue means “warrior”. The association was first established when King Kamehameha the Great’s army carved canoes and weapons to go to war using the wood of a species of trees that were abundant on the Big Island. Since then, the species has been related to warriors and has been named ‘Koa’. 

While that’s what Koa literally means, Koa wood has other meanings too that can be traced back to ancient times. Typically used to hand-make jewelry in Hawaii, the wood aided the preservation of this tradition through generations with the purpose of keeping it alive and passing its significance on to the following generations. 

The Hawaiians are marine people. Nature is interwoven in the fabric of their culture. That’s what get exploits from nature like Koa wood, shark tooth, and such things scared and revered. 


So why are jewelers around the world fashioning ornaments with this Hawaiian wood? Koa, despite being a wood, has loads of symbolic importance. The wood is a symbol of energy, abundance, endurance, strength, and prosperity. It is believed to bring good luck to its wearers. Signifying a deep love for the oceans, Koa wood jewelry arouses in the wearer a deep and innate love for nature. It is scared and spiritual, and builds a link between man and nature, despite time and distance. 

To the people of the island, the Koa wood jewelry symbolizes a connection between the islanders and the ocean around it. In the wearers, the jewelry evokes determination and strength making them successful in their enterprises. The vibes of good luck and prosperity that Koa wood brings to its wearers motivate them to be ambitious and venture into unknown territories guided by good fortune. 

So, these jewelry have on one hand helped the people of Hawaii preserve their Aloha spirit, and on others, it has made people in far and distant lands acquainted with this island culture and gain strength and power of will from it. 

Koa Wood in Jewelry

Koa wood jewelry typically contains bits and pieces of shaped and polished Koa wood that serve as adornments. Although not all Koa wood jewelry pieces are handmade, all Koa woods are hand treated. Having lived out much of its life in nature, the Koa wood bears a rich dark color and textural grain. The ornaments made with these woods have Koa wood inlays that give white and yellow metals unparalleled richness. A representative of the Hawaiian culture, the jewelry pieces bear a natural beauty that broadly reflects the beauty of oceans and islands. 

The curly Hawaiian wood jewelry is the top of the line. Although not as commonly available as the other kinds, the top sellers source the premium curly woods from vendors in the market to put in their jewelry. Being a natural product, the Koa wood lends the jewelry color and grain that gemstones cannot. As a result, the jewelry produced with Koa wood adornments is luxuriant and exquisite. The jewelry pieces are unlike any you will see in the stores.

There are tons of jewelry in which Koa woods are used these days. The wood has become a big part of the day to day range. They are widely used in pendants and rings. Seeing people’s effervescent interest in this range, jewelers are now taking things to the next level. This year, the streets are flooding with heavy Koa wood jewelry. Brooch, collar necklace, shells and wood necklace, illusion necklace, the options are very many. 

Aside from Koa wood jewelry, the wood is also used as adornment in gem jewelry, pearl jewelry, and other precious baubles. Used intermittently with stones, shells, and pearls, Koa wood stands out as unique and rare.

If you are into rare and affordable jewelry, the Koa wood range is definitely worth giving a second look at.

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