The plight of the pangolin

African luxury brand Patrick Mavros has collaborated with the Tikki Hywood Trust on a unique collection of jewels to help save the endangered pangolin.

Pangolin on head photograph by Adrian Steirn

Threatened by extinction, African luxury lifestyle brand Patrick Mavros has joined forces with the Tikki Hywood Trust in Zimbabwe to help save the pangolin, the most trafficked animal in the world. Proving that jewels can do good, Mavros recently unveiled the Pangolin jewellery collection in London, of which 10% of all sales will go to the Trust. World-renowned photographer and filmmaker Adrian Steirn has also lent his help to raise the profile of this strange yet curiously beautiful creature, which is sometimes compared to an artichoke or a pinecone.

Pangolin Haka rose gold ring
The little-known pangolin, the world’s most trafficked animal, is the subject of Patrick Mavros’ jewellery collection, which recreated its distinctive armour in silver, yellow gold and rose gold. A portion of each sale, including this Haka ring (£4,700), goes to the Tikki Hywood Trust.

Unfortunately for the pangolin, it is a prime target for poachers. Notoriously shy, pangolins curl up in a ball when confronted, which ironically makes it easier for poachers to scoop them up. In South Asia, its scales are valued as much as rhinoceros horns and believed to posses powers to cure a wide range of ailments. In African folklore, spotting a pangolin is equated to a blessing of immense fortune and they’re said to be the source of alluvial gold. Such is the extent of poaching that this unusual-looking mammal has recently been reclassified by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) from “endangered” to “critically endangered”, highlighting the necessity for urgent action before our scaly friend becomes extinct.

Alongside Patrick Mavros, world-renowned photographer and filmmaker Adrian Steirn has lent his help to raise the profile of the beautiful pangolin.

Lisa Hywood, founder of the Tikki Hywood Trust – a not-for-profit organisation named after her father – has dedicated her life to the protection of endangered African species. The Trust provides training and education to protect pangolins from poachers and rehabilitation to return them to the wild. Adrian Steirn’s photographs, above, capture not only the remarkable appeal of these creatures but also the endearing relationship between man and pangolin that the Trust has helped nurture.

The plight of the pangolin has been close to the Mavros family’s heart since Patrick Mavros Sr. was entrusted to look after a group of these beautiful creatures. Patrick Mavros Jr. says: “We were looking to create pangolin jewels, but it is difficult to actually see them in the wild. So I asked Lisa Hywood if we could take a look at her pangolins. She needed help to raise money and awareness and I needed access, so we hit upon the idea of creating this project.”

From their stylish estate in the hills surrounding Harare in Zimbabwe, the Mavros family design and make every jewel and piece of tableware. 

Having had the chance to observe the pangolin at close quarters, Patrick Jr. decided to take a more abstract approach and focussed on their distinctive scales. The result is a collection of rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces and a belt buckle that embody the pangolin’s strange beauty. Available in rose or yellow gold and silver, the look is bold glamour with a streak of raw African beauty. Like all Mavros jewels, inside each one you will find the brand’s hallmark parade of ants stamped out of the metal, highlighting the artisanal nature of each piece. 

Focussing on the its distinctive scales, the collection of rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces and a belt buckle embodies the pangolin’s strange beauty. 

The Mavros family has an ambitious and admirable aim: to put African luxury on the map, on a par with their European counterparts. From their stylish estate in the hills surrounding Harare in Zimbabwe, the family design and make every jewel and piece of tableware. Headed up by the white-bearded patriarch Patrick Mavros, the firm has trained craftsmen to the highest standard so that they are capable of producing jewels and tableware of world-class quality. The pangolin collection is a perfect example of the spirit of the brand; inspired by native wildlife, it is designed and produced in Mavros’ workshops in Zimbabwe.

Beyond the awareness raised by this one-off collection of pangolin jewels, the 10% donation from each sale consolidates the Mavros family’s commitment to protecting and celebrating its distinctly African origins.

Article written with help from Theodore Barry-Taylor

Pangolin Haka cuff in yellow gold
Patrick Mavros' Haka cuff in yellow gold was designed to help save the endangered pangolin, the most trafficked animal in the world (£14,900).

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