LONDON — For Ruth Powys, the chief executive of Elephant Family, an international charity that works to protect Asian elephants and their habitat, jewelry may seem like an unorthodox addition to her wardrobe.
“In conservation you normally have dirt down your fingernails and a Swatch watch covered in elephant dung,” said Ms. Powys, who joined the organization in 2004 and took the top job in 2010. “The last thing you’re going to have is jewelry.
“But because my role is to fuel the front lines — it’s very much a Robin Hood idea, where we take from the rich but give to the animals — I feel that sometimes one has to dress for the occasion just to get a foot in the door.”
Whether she is talking with donors or lobbying politicians, Ms. Powys said, jewelry makes her feel empowered.
Her jewelry collection includes a Bex Rox necklace with African elephant heads.CreditTom Jamieson for The New York Times
One favorite piece is a heavy gold-plated chain necklace with three silver-plated elephant heads, a design by Bex Rox, the British jewelry company whose founder and creative director, Bex Manners, is a close friend.
Ms. Powys recalled wearing the necklace in 2013 when she introduced the British charity in New York. “I felt I needed a real piece of power jewelry when I walked into a room,” she said. “When I put this on I felt like, ‘I am going to save some elephants and bend the world to my will in this necklace.’ ”
(For “extra gravitas,” she added, she often layers it with other pieces.)
Ms. Powys acknowledged the necklace depicts African elephants rather than the Asian animals that are her charity’s focus. But, she added, African elephants often dominate the conservation discussion, even though both kinds are on the Red List of Threatened Species, a global inventory maintained by the nonprofit International Union for Conservation of Nature.
According to Elephant Family, there are, at best, about 50,000 Asian elephants still in the wild, continually threatened by loss of habitat and human encroachment. To help them, the charity, founded in 2002, has financed more than 160 field projects in India and several Southeast Asian countries.
Plastic flowers are among her favorites, including a pair of red Oscar de la Renta earrings.CreditTom Jamieson for The New York Times
Some of its money has come from such media-savvy events as the 2010 Elephant Parade, which had 268 painted elephants made of a variety of materials placed around London and raised more than 4 million pounds (the equivalent of $5.3 million today), and the 2014 Fabergé Big Egg Hunt, which had creative headliners like Jeff Koons, Julian Schnabel and Zaha Hadid design more than 260 egg sculptures for auction in New York City, raising more than $1 million.
Star — or rather royal — power has been one of the charity’s primary features.
One of its founders was Mark Shand, the passionate conservationist and brother of the Duchess of Cornwall. She and her husband, Prince Charles, are the charity’s joint presidents (other patrons include Princess Eugenie, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild and Goldie Hawn).
Some of Ms. Powys’ jewels were gifts from Mr. Shand. They were a couple as well as colleagues, and she was with him at the Egg Hunt in New York when, at age 62, he died after an accidental fall.
Her malachite and lapis lazuli necklace came from the French village of Gordes, in Provence, where the couple had vacationed.
A lapis lazuli and malachite stitched necklace is from Gordes, France.CreditTom Jamieson for The New York Times
She also has a beaded cuff from Butler & Wilson, the costume and vintage jewelry shop in London. For her birthday Mr. Shand initially had gotten what she called “the most insane piece” at the shop but it turned out to be unwearable, so she exchanged it for the bright blue cuff, which looks like a wrist corsage.
Ms. Powys said it works equally well with denim or a beautiful dress. “Plus there is the whole flower and nature theme,” she said. “It’s so delicate and feminine but also bright, colorful and happy.”
Mr. Shand, who was an ambassador for Cartier, also gave her the steel Cartier Tank Française watch that Ms. Powys wears almost every day. “I don’t replace it with a plastic watch when I’m in the field as it’s so hardy and everything-proof,” she said. “It can certainly hack a crocodile-infested, raging river, no problem.”
Other prized pieces include two silver brooches by Patrick Mavros, the London jeweler who specializes in gold and silver animal designs.
Ms. Powys in the dress she wore at her July wedding to Ramani Ganesh. She is wearing Hanut Singh earrings.CreditTom Jamieson for The New York Times
Mr. Mavros had featured African elephants, but when Mr. Shand’s family asked him to create two Asian elephant pins for distribution at the conservationist’s memorial service, Ms. Powys said, he readily agreed.
Now, she said, there are about 400 people who regularly wear the brooches, depicting a mother and baby elephant and a single “rogue tusker.” “It’s like owning a Land Rover or a vintage car,” Ms. Powys said. “You’re part of the club — the Mark Shand appreciation club.”
Not all her jewelry features elephants, though.
There also is, as Ms. Powys described it, her “plastic fantastic obsession” for eye-poppingly bright costume pieces, the result of her fascination with a primary school teacher’s jewelry. That influence can be seen in a yellow and black expandable cuff (a Christmas cracker prize) and a kitsch banana bracelet she picked up at a flea market in Paris.
Plastic flowers are another favorite, including a pair of red Oscar de la Renta earrings and an oversize yellow set bought at Le Grand Magasin, a vintage shop in St.-Rémy-de-Provence that specializes in mid-20th-century plastic designs.
Her plastic banana charm bracelet and expandable cuff (from a Christmas cracker).CreditTom Jamieson for The New York Times
In July, Ms. Powys married Ramani Ganesh, a partner at Goldman Sachs who donates his salary to conservation initiatives, primarily Lion Guardians, which works to protect lions in East Africa. (Coincidentally, Ganesh is the Hindu elephant god.)
Ms. Powys’s engagement ring was a Burmese sapphire in an Art Deco-style setting. “Ganesh didn’t like the idea of the diamond engagement ring and neither did I,” she said, so he bought the deep-blue stone at Grays Antique Centre in Mayfair and commissioned a custom setting.
Several of her pieces are from Indian designers, including her white-diamond wedding ring by Nirav Modi. It is from his Embrace collection, diamond and gold jewelry designed to stretch as the wearer puts it on and takes it off, something that Ms. Powys said really suits her active life and the hot climates she frequents.
(Mr. Modi, a well-known Indian diamantaire, is set to donate pieces from his latest animal-inspired collection to Elephant Family’s next fund-raiser.)
“I do sometimes look at myself and my jewelry and think I’m a very unusual conservationist,” Ms. Powys said. “But I like it.”
Sweeping Plan Would Overturn Equal Access to the Internet
The Federal Communications Commission plans to scrap net neutrality rules requiring broadband providers to give consumers equal access to all content on the internet.
The move clears the way for companies to charge more and block access to some websites, representing a victory for broadband and telecom companies like AT&T and Comcast.
Where Brexit Hurts: The Nurses and Doctors Leaving London
Britain’s treasured health care system was used as rallying cry by anti-E.U. campaigners. Many of its European staff now feel betrayed. Thousands have quit.
David Cassidy, star of of “The Partridge Family” has died. He was 67.
Mr. Cassidy was beloved by fans during the 1970s and worked as a performer for decades but he struggled with his early exposure to fame.
Trump Defends Roy Moore, Citing Candidate’s Denial of Allegations
President Trump declined to say whether he would campaign for Roy S. Moore, the Alabama Republican Senate candidate who is accused of sexual misconduct with minors.
“He says it didn’t happen. You have to listen to him also,” said Mr. Trump, who urged voters not to support the Democratic candidate running against Mr. Moore.
Warning Signs About Another Giant Bitcoin Exchange
On some days, Bitfinex claims to be doing more trades than some stock exchanges. But it has lost millions in two hackings and has no government oversight.
Ratko Mladic Is Convicted in 1990s Slaughter of Bosnian Muslims
The former Bosnian Serb general was convicted of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in the slaughter of Bosnian Muslims during the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Mr. Mladic was found to have orchestrated a campaign of so-called ethnic cleansing that made the small nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina the site of some of the worst atrocities in modern Europe.