Tagua nut is eco-friendly, sustainable, durable, hard and dense, beautiful, and almost identical to animal-derived ivory. But much kinder!
As WP Armstrong writes,”. . . ivory-nuts contain a substance . . . that becomes so hard and dense that it can be carved and polished like elephant tusks. . . . Called “vegetable ivory,” the endosperm is used for buttons, chess pieces, dice, umbrella handles, billiard balls, and for intricate carvings in the art of scrimshaw, without endangering whales, elephants and walruses. Like wood, vegetable ivory is essentially composed of thick-walled dead cells; however, unlike grainy hardwoods it has a texture and hardness similar to ivory. In fact, vegetable ivory is remarkably dense, with a rating of roughly 2.5 on the scale of mineral hardness.”