Real horn spectacle-frames

1.    Facts about the material
2.    Presentation and sale

1. Facts about the material

Buffalo horn is a collective term for horns from various races of buffalo.

The animals come from:
  • Asia Minor and the Middle East
  • Africa

The type used predominantly is the horn of the Water Buffalo ("Bubalus" species).
The water buffalo is kept in Asia as a domestic animal and about 80 million of them are extant.  These domestic animals, in particular the "Bubalus arni" sub-species so well known in Western India and Nepal, provides the high-grade material, so to speak as a by-product, from which exclusive spectacle frames are manufactured.

The horns of "Bubalus arni" grow up to 1.95 metres long, are sickle-shaped, curve backwards, and are broad and flat at the base.

No more than 20% of all horn produced can be used to manufacture spectacle-frames, because of the high quality standards demanded.

Because the horns of animals living in the wild always show signs of "damage" (from the daily rough-and-tumble of free ranging life), and are often cracked or marred, it cannot be used for manufacturing spectacles.  The irregular feed the animals receive because of natural periods of drought and rainfall also has an effect on the quality of the horn.  This leads to harder or softer parts in the horn.

For these reasons the horn of wild animals cannot be used for manufacturing spectacle-frames.  It is only horn from domesticated animals that is used for this purpose. 

Thus the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species does not apply to this trade.


2. Presentation and sale

In order to be able to sell successfully, the salesman mustbe convinced of his product.  And he has to have the necessary "feel" in order to recognize to which customer he should offer which spectacles.

A customer can be categorised:

  • by his external appearance
  • by his eloquence

A human being's need to distinguish himself from others starts right back at his clothing.  The customer‘s personal taste can be clearly seen.

A pair of spectacles is nowadays no longer just a necessary aid to seeing, but has become a part of the complete "outfit". Spectacles are capable of emphasising intelligence, strength, individuality e.g. femininity, or of bringing out various facial features to advantage, in short of achieving all sorts of different effects.

Fashion-consciousness is an essential and decisive factor, and requires from the salesman a special feeling for form and colour.
Many studies have shown that, for the discriminating customer, price plays a secondary role, so long as the so called "cost/performance relationship" is correct. If the customer is convinced of the "performance" and if he likes the frame he will be happy to pay an appropriate price.
He can estimate the value of a product properly if he recognizes the advantages and thus benefits to himself.

And a frame made of natural material offers many advantages in comparison with traditional spectacle-frames.

The main advantages

Buffalo-horn combines the exclusivity of natural material with the professional handicraft of the almost forgotten frame-maker.  This individual exclusivity can be made clearest by a direct comparison:

On the one side is plastic, produced and coloured by the ton by giant chemical corporations, and on the other side a natural product, of which every single piece is automatically unique and is distinguished by its "one of one" character.

The comparison of the workmanship is equally impressive.  While plastic and metal frames are produced in huge numbers on automatic production lines, buffalo horn frames are hand-crafted by highly qualified craftsmen.  Design-Naturell  lady´s spectacle frame  Modell 540a

This traditional work provides an ideal opportunity to bring out the optician‘s craftsmanship, as he is the person who makes an individual pair of spectacles out of a high-quality frame and the functionally selected lenses.

As a natural material, buffalo horn is extraordinarily kind to the skin.  This skin-compatibility is of ever greater importance in this day and age, with chemicals and plastics dominating our environment.  Particularly in recent times, contact allergy and skin sensitisation have greatly increased, so that for many wearers of spectacles the material they are made from has taken on an almost medicinal significance.
In such cases of skin sensitivity and particularly contact allergies there is simply nothing better than a spectacle-frame made of natural materials. Comfort in wearing a buffalo horn frame distinguishes it clearly from the frames traditionally supplied.

On the one side, the specific gravity of buffalo horn is very low, and on the other side the natural surface of the material has pleasant characteristics for the wearer.  This is because this natural material, after it has been worn for a short time, takes on a slightly matt surface at the point where in comes in contact with the skin.  It often happens that at these points the fibrous structure of the material becomes visible.  This does not represent any lower quality, but on the contrary increases comfort in wearing.  The slightly rougher surface grips better on the skin.  The same effect is achieved as with "soft pads", with their porous surface, in that the frame does not "slither" so much, even with heavy lenses.

Low weight, comfort in wearing, and freedom from allergies are thus important functional advantages of buffalo horn frames.

Physical contact and the "urge to own"

It is possible to perceive an interesting "basic drive" even in small children.

Once a child has held an object in his hand, he never wants to give it back.  Physical contact with an object causes the desire to grow to possess it, particularly if the object is pleasant to the touch.  How often one is motivated to buy a pleasant fabric or any other material by touching it transferred to the spectacles frame, this means that the customer should put the horn spectacles on and hold them in his hand as often as possible.  The smooth surface, the light weight, and the harmonising colours and structure will soon set off the "child-like urge to own" in him. Whether and what a customer decides to buy is far more up to the salesman than he usually realises.  The customer feels unsure in his purchase decision, as he is certainly no expert in this area.  He therefore relies heavily on the consultant, the salesman, who should bring knowledge of his subject, experience, and good taste into his consultation.

Attention should be drawn to the subject of caring for this valuable product.  It is clear to anybody that anything expensive, for instance a light-coloured suede costume, needs looking after in quite a different way from a similar piece of clothing made of synthetic fibre.  This necessity for tender care is, however, no disadvantage, merely the difference that high-quality natural material makes.

The customer should have it pointed out to him that he has not acquired a cheap plastic product and that it in not to be treated like one.  The information that a buffalo-horn spectacles-frame is delicate and needs regular care will increase its value in his eyes.