Size and weight
Medium: 2″ square
Small: 1″ square
Earring weight: less than one half (0.5) ounce per pair
What is capim dourado?
Capim dourado, known as “golden grass” in English, is virtually synonymous with Brazilian handicrafts.
This durable plant grows only in the Jalpão region of the state of Tocantins in northeastern Brazil. This plant, when dried, has an abnormally bright color, hence the name, and the flower stems are sewn together using buriti palm silk to make a variety of products — most commonly hats, baskets, boxes, bracelets, and earrings. The indigenous people of the region taught slave descendants how to make the handcrafts, carrying on the tradition.
As this plant only grows in this one area, a natural concern is over harvesting, but I’m happy to report that it is part of a success story. The plant grows in Cerrado biome, named by World Wide Fund as the biologically richest tropical savanna in the world, with about 10,000 plant species and 10 endemic bird species. However, like many of our open lands, particularly one with a rich watershed, it is at risk of being overtaken for cattle farming and general agriculture. This is where this little plant appears to step in — because the locals can grow, harvest, and sell this plant and goods from the plant, they have an alternative source of income that means they have been able to resist the calls for land conversion. “This plant is the most important source of income for local communities in the Jalapa region”. And, those locals are working with scientists and conservation groups and now have legislation in place that protects their sustainable production methods.
This plant is super lightweight, which means even very large earrings can be made that weigh virtually nothing — a big part of its appeal. And, in spite of having the word “grass” in the name, its scientific name is “Syngonanthus nitens” and presents “presents antiulcerogenic, antioxidant, antibacterial, and antifungal activity”. As such, even those with grass allergies should be free to use this jewelry without worry.