Have you been to Hawaii? How about any beach for a relaxing vacation? Well, then you might have seen shells on the beach, right? How about necklaces or bracelets made of shells? Puka shell necklace is what is now a generic term for necklaces made of shells. What is a puka shell necklace, and where did it originate? Are sea shell necklaces also considered as a puka shell necklace? Is it still in fashion at this modern age of 2020?
Chances are you have been seeing a wide variety of puka shell necklaces on the market today. The hype began in late 2019, when a particular fashion model was seen wearing a modernly fashioned puka shell necklace, with a metal cowrie shell. Of course, as a ramp model, she gave her own style in wearing it, a contemporary way to wear a once traditional beach accessory. Layering her puka shell necklaces with other materials such as beaded necklaces with gold chains and pearl pendants, which, if you can see, all still has the same tranquil vibe of the beach.
Look and feel like a runway model by wearing fashionable and stylish puka shell necklaces. Here is a list that you should not dare miss for some styles that were actually seen worn by these famous celebrities.
- 3 Piece Layered Set White Stone Pearl Puka Shell Necklace Set
We give you this three-piece set of beach-inspired necklace for you tropical vacations and feel the vibe of the beach and sand. The three-piece layered necklace consists of white stones with a gold plated cable chain with a lobster claw clasp. Black cord necklace with a pearl accent on each end with a slip-on closure. Lastly, a necklace of puka shells held together by a white rope with a slip pearl knot closure Clean and straightforward, perfect for a laid back, island look. Buy from HERE
- Puka Shell Bracelet Choker Handmade Necklace Set
Puka necklace or bracelet? Good news! You can get either or both with our one-piece or two-piece set option. Get a handmade puka choker necklace tied together by a black, cream, or white rope with an adjustable sliding knot clasp. The choker necklace is paired with a bracelet version of the puka necklace. Buy from HERE
- Multicolored Stone Beaded Choker Puka Shells Chain Necklace
Have a breath of freshness with this modern and ethic variety of a puka shell necklace. Gold plated cable chain necklace with a series of colored stone beads decorated in alternates of three with smooth, white puka shell dangles. Secured by a lobster clasp closure with a gold plated chain drop back design. Buy from HERE
- Fun Adjustable Colorful Puka Shell Rope Necklace
Have fun with this colorful and lively rope puka necklace. Featuring a tropical-inspired puka shell rope necklace with an adjustable and durables sliding knot closure. Charming and cute for young ladies and adults. Wear this as you strut along the beach with your tropical drink. Buy from HERE
- Layered Puka Shell Pendants Golden Chain Necklace
A modern and elegant styled three-layered puka necklace. Gold plated zinc alloy cable chain necklace that stylishly secures a puka shell pendant in pearl white, a combination of gold and white, and vintage fold coatings. Perfect for low cut tops and beach-inspired dresses. Buy from HERE
- Puka Shell Pearl Latch Turquoise Blue Rope Necklace
Imbibe the deity in you by wearing this fantastic puka shell rope necklace. Nature-inspired color and materials such as the pearly white chain of smooth puka shells. The turquoise color of the durable rope adds a clean and beach appeal. Simulated twin pearls that act like a slip-on closure. Buy from HERE
- Adjustable White Pearl Golden Plated Puka Shell Rope Necklace
Hawaiian inspired puka necklace modernized with a golden twist. Durable waxed rope cord with an adjustable sliding knot closure with gold-tone pearls ar each end. Series of artificial cylindrical white pearl beads with gold plated cowrie shells placed strategically to have a balanced, fresh look. A style also available in a bracelet form. Buy from HERE
- Blue Green White Beaded Puka Shell Pendant Necklace
We feature a wonderfully made surfer lei inspired necklace for women. Handcrafted with colorful colors of sea green and deep-sea blue circular disk shape beads with a smooth and even coating. White and silver-coated beads for accent and for a chic look. pearly white sleek cowrie shell pendant as a centerpiece to complete the surfer girl appeal. Buy from HERE
- Colorful Beaded Puka Shell Pearl Pendant Necklace
Here is a fashionable, bohemian-inspired colorful beaded puka necklace for women. Lightweight multicolored cylindrical luminescent acrylic beads with two creamy white puka shell side pendant that’s totally modern in style. An ivory-white simulated central pearl pendant hinged on a gold plated ring for a flexible and relaxed hang. Buy from HERE
- Double Layered White Crystal Choker Gold Chain Puka Pendant Necklace
We would like to introduce a 2020 style of traditional beach-inspired beads and puka shell necklace. Double layer single piece necklace that features a series of milky white or transparent simulated crystal bead choker necklace, with a long, gold plater rope chain necklace with a smooth and porcelain white cowrie shell pendant designed with a red-eye shape painted on the lower side that adds character and a bit of eeriness. Buy from HERE
- Multi-layer White Gold Puka Shell Rope Necklace
Let’s wear our puka necklaces the modern way. We give you this fabulous layered neck made of handcrafted natural white cowrie shells mixed with some gold-plated shells for a stylish and trendy look. Fell like a model and choose from our variety of modern materials secured by a robust waxed gold rope that adds elegance to a once casual neck accessory. Buy from HERE
- Braided Sky Blue Rope White Puka Shell Necklace
Turn heads with this bohemian-inspired puka necklace made from cowrie shells. Playful and fun sky blue braided waxed rope that secures a series of dangled off-white cowrie shells. Black, glossy round beads placed on the inner part of the necklace for beautiful color contrast. Built with an easy to use slop on the knot for closure. A perfect choker necklace for beach dresses or boho-inspired outfits. Buy from HERE
- White Silver Puka Shell Choker Black Rope Necklace
Wear this anywhere from your day at the mall or be a fashion accessory as you go to your office. Easy to be paired with any colored outfits for the ivory white cowrie shell color is a natural head-turner. Black waxed rope enhances the whiteness of the puka necklace as well as the silver-plated or gold-plated scallop shell pendant, paired with a dashing drop chain back with a lobster claw clasp. Buy from HERE
- 2 Piece Set Puka Shell Rope Choker Bracelet
We give you eight different colors to choose from. Natural porcelain white to dazzling metallic coats of silver, yellow gold, and rose gold plating. Choker and bracelet set is built with a smooth white or black rope cord. Adjustable to fit your neck and wrist for comfy wear. Buy from HERE
- White and Blue Bead Variegated Puka Shell Pendant Necklace
Here comes a contemporary and trendy way to adorn your neck with natural, eco-friendly materials with a casual and relaxed vibe. Fresh turquoise-colored round disk shape beads with white bead accent on both sides. Gold plated spacer beads that accentuate the gold-plated chain drop back closure with a lobster claw hook. Colorful cowrie shell pendant drop that puts modern in this traditional tropical neck accessory now a suitable accessory not just on the beach but for your everyday wear. Buy from HERE
- Disk Candy Color Bead Puka Shell Pearl Pendants Necklace
An eye candy if I may say so. Have a taste of this sweet and lusciously made bead necklace. Showcasing a variety of pastel candy-colored round disk shape beads for a young and fresh flair. Turquoise coated sea shell pendants that add to this beach-inspired look as well as the iridescent simulated pearl central drop. Feel the relaxed and serene vibe of this wonderfully made necklace built with a fantastic cable chain backdrop design with a durable lobster claw hook. Buy from HERE
Puka shells come from the worn helix of a sea snail. It’s also called cone snails wherein these bead-like snails have naturally bored “holes” or “puka” (Hawaiian term) on them due to the natural wear and tear they get from crashing with the waves. There is also a tiger puka that has a spotted brown colored shell. Naturally worn puka shell takes around 20-30years of bouncing with the waves and reefs before it reaches a natural perforated disk-like shape and ivory white, sun-bleached color. Traditional puka necklaces were laced together by a cotton cord or a silk cord as a festivity of the isle culture.
Shell necklaces were a symbol of the Hawaiian culture. There was the Aloha Friday that’s celebrated where island women get to show off their island accessories. It’s the same representation of the aloha dress wherein it’s a unique national symbol specific to Hawaii.
At present, necklaces made from cowrie shells are also considered or called puka shell necklaces had become a general term for chains with shell accents. Cowrie shells, aside from being used as jewelry accents, were used as money or a form of currency in the late 1500s by the native Africans. It was also a symbol of good fortune and fertility. North Americans used as a sacred shell for ceremonies and rituals.
History of Puka Shell Necklaces
The term originated in the 1960s in Hawaii, naturally occurring puka shells were made into necklaces by the beach dwellers or people the lives near the ocean. These were sold at a low price for they were considered as a token or a souvenir. But then it became in fashion in the 1970s where the previously roughly made puka shells were made into purposely styled leis or wreaths. The price of course, increased. It became a fashion trend for it can be worn by both males and females. Hollywood celebrities started wearing them, and as we all know, once an accessory gets introduces to the masses, the demand would go up as well the price. The trend stayed too the 90’s when sales began to go down. It was considered tacky and became associated with bums. It was the year 2017 and 2018 when high ends fashion brands started featuring and using these modernized puka shell necklaces on their fashion shows. Although there is a bit of controversy or debate that the cowrie shell necklaces used by these high-fashion brands were native to Africa, rather than Hawaii. Some just shrugged their shoulders for in their opinion. It’s just a necklace made of shells. It doesn’t’ matter what type of shell it is. For some, it is a misrepresentation of their tradition and culture. Everyone is eligible to give their own opinion. As an onlooker, hearing that there is a difference between the two is an eye-opener that gains interest in learning the history of these shell necklaces.
Hawaiian Puka shell Necklaces
A good luck charm for sailors and voyagers of the past. Men and women that are journeying to the sea were said to bring or wear a puka shell necklace for a peaceful and harmless trip. Puka shells are also a symbol of goodwill, a wonderful gift for individuals who are about to make life-changing decisions. Puka shell necklaces are sometimes being mistaken with other shell necklaces native to Hawaii. These are the Momi shell lei (preferred by the Japanese for its white hues) and Ni ihau lei. Since all are native and worn in the Hawaii Island, Nihau lei is has a more intricate and detailed assembly over the pukka shell necklace. The shell used also differs for the Nihau lei has a longer and layered styled with smaller shells. In the year 1968, Honolulu adopted aloha Friday, wherein it is a must to wear brightly printed Hawaiian clothes every Friday. Nihau leis were also worn as accessories.
African Cowrie shell necklaces
African legends say that a cowrie shell represents a protection deity that has power over the oceans. If you gaze at the form of the cowrie shell, you can see the resemblance to the female reproductive organ resulting in the shell being a symbol of fertility. As we have said earlier, cowrie shells have used a form of currency. Thus it is a symbol of fortune and a stroke of luck.
African cowries were also used in African religious rituals. In some ceremonies, the cowrie shell is modified by creating an opening top of the curved shell. This is a shell that depicts and open and the untouched cowrie would represent close. Diloggunbis a type of cowrie shell used in Santeria where they seek divination from deities by casting cowries that can be read differently, a tradition that originated in Cuba.
How to Wear Your Puka Shell Necklaces the Modern Way
Models, celebrities started wearing them again but in a different way the modern way. Here are some that we have observed.
- Single Piece
Some people are generally straightforward when it comes to fashion. A string of puka shell necklaces is enough to have an impact on their casual wear. Choose to match your natural white puka shell necklaces with some colored tops for color contrast. When using a metallic plated puka necklaces, it is more elegant to match them with close neck tops. Choker of course, must be paired lower cut dresses to maximize its beauty.
Layering is not just for the clothes that we do informal wear or when it’s cold. Layering is being used by the stylist for a well-dressed contemporary look. Use puka necklaces with different lengths. Choose to wear differently sized cowrie shells. For example, a chunky puka choker can be with a small beaded regular length necklace as well as a long chain necklace with a cowrie shell pendant. You can buy a prepared set of neck accessories if you do not want the stress in mixing and matching your necklaces. Colors are also to be considered.
As with layering, diverse materials such as beaded puka necklaces with metal chains are now available. Traditionally fashioned puka shell necklaces were tied together by a rope cord with an adjustable knot end but nowadays, chain clasp is available, which contributes to its elegant and trendy appeal.
Real Puka Shells
When choosing your puka shells, it is essential to take note of some characteristics that are only found on real puka shells.
- Naturally, sun-bleached puka shells have a light yellowish to dirty white color.
- Naturally worn out puka shells becomes disk-like shape with a convex shape on one side and a concave shape on the other.
- Spiral indentations can be seen in the inner part of the hollow side of the shell.
Types of Puka Shell Necklaces
Puka shell necklaces nowadays are made of different kinds of shells and beads made into necklaces. This is due to the high demand and nature cannot really produce naturally worn-out puka shells so humans do it manually.
- Manmade Puka Shells
Shells are collected, cut, whitened, and refined. For some, to have a more naturally worn shell effect, the shell is tumbled with some abrasive materials and then later polishing some jagged and pointy ends.
- Metal Plated
There are various types of metal plating for metal-based material, but for natural shells like puka or cowrie shell, we use IP plating. The first step is to put on lacquer and conductive ink. It’s to protect the natural component of the shell and add a conductive property that an organic shell does not have. Copper plating comes next, followed by a nickel plating before finally undergoing gold plating. Te end product resembles a golden shell made of gold metal but with an organic base. Shell designs vary, so plating from a natural shell would always give a unique end product, unlike molded shell metals that came from one mold.
- Colored / Dyed
You would see labels like tie-dyed puka shell necklaces, these are basically coated with paints unlike with the process of making tie-dyed clothes. The materials are different for dyed clothes, water-soluble dyes are used and these are dipped for a period of time before drying and finally have a beautifully styled dyed shirt. Dyed puka shell necklaces use water-based paints that are more eco and skin-friendly while exhibiting a shiny end polish.
Hand-painted puka shells or cowrie shells are also beings sold for a personalized and fun look. Waves, curves, and even shapes like a creepy red eye are painted to get away or express a once a distinct personality. It is later coated with a transparent acrylic coat to have an even and glasslike texture.
To accommodate all natures of people, and their financial status, some puka shell necklaces are made of plastic material. Plastic materials are easy to form and shape. They can also replicate anything with regards to color and develop at a very affordable price. Aside from being durable, they are also lightweight and beautiful to look at.Puka shell necklaces from Hawaii or the cowrie shell necklaces from Africa, both are naturally occurring and beautifully made that represents their culture well. As we are battling climate change, using natural and eco-friendly materials are recommended to take part in this global fight to protect our precious mother Earth. Traditionally fashioned pukka shell and cowrie necklaces are representations of their beautiful cultures and modernizing, for some opinions loses that ethnicity that was once a unique way to symbolize them. The truth is we cannot stop change, fashion accessories come and go, but when it comes back, it brings freshness or something new to the previous version. It actually promotes the culture in some sort for some, when not reintroduced are forgotten. SO let’s embrace both style and appreciate its history and beauty at the same time. Have you chosen your puka shell necklaces to be paired with your OOTD next week? Come and get one for yourself and hop on to the puka shell necklace trend.