Traditional shell jewellery of the Pacific Islands

There is a huge variety of traditional shell jewellery from numerous different Pacific cultures. Traditional shell jewellery was originally made using neolithic tools. Many of these gems made with sharks teeth and obsidian. The materials were those found in nature such as shells, teeth, bone, bush fiber, feathers, stone, wood and turtle shell.

The aim of the article is to look at some of the vast variety of traditional shell jewellery. I have included lots of images to help the reader identify specific pieces of traditional shell jewellery.

I Buy and Sell traditional shell jewellery.  If you have a piece you would like to sell please send me an image. If you have a piece of traditional shell jewelleryand just want to know more about it or find out what it is worth feel free to send me an email.

Traditional shell jewellery general

With experience, it is possible to identify pieces of traditional shell jewellery.  You can tell exactly where it comes from. Many pieces of traditional shell jewellery could only be worn by people of a certain social rank or status. They often signified to others not only your wealth but your position within society.

The value of traditional shell jewellery depends on several factors. Physically attractive pieces are of course more valuable than plain pieces. Rare pieces are more valuable than common pieces.

The condition is extremely important because restoration is often nearly impossible. Polynesian Jewellery tends to be more valuable than New Guinea Adornments.

As it would take a very thick book to cover all the traditional shell jewellery the following images are just some examples.

Great book on Traditional Pacific Island Jewelry is Pacific Jewellery and adornment

Examples of traditional shell jewellery

Tongan Breastplate made from black pearlshell and marine ivory

Torres Strait Island Conus shell Armband

Solomon island pendant made of incised Clam shell

Imitation pig tooth made fro Clam shell Papua New Guinea

Bakiha breast adornment made of a circle of giant clam shell and decorated with beads and dolphin teeth

Micronesian Armband made of cone shell

Massim Kula necklace Used as a currency and made of spndylus shell disks and pearll shell.

Pectoral adornment made of pearl shell and turtle shell filigree.

Cook island hat band made from shells

Sepik Bridal cap made from Nassa shells and Conus shells on a Bush string frame

Solomon island shell currency necklaces

Trochus shell armbands from West New Britain

Sepik Necklace made of bailer shell segment and conus shell disks

Marquesan headband made of pearl shell turtle shell and feathers

Solomon island armbands made of shell disks on a fiber backing.

Traditional Shell Jewellery

Due to the sheer volume of material I have other articles that cover this subject with different images. They include New Guinea adornment New Guinea jewelry and Traditional Pacific Island jewelry.

If you cant find the piece you want to be identified feel free to contact me. Chances are I will be able to help.


If you enjoyed this article you may also like Pacific Island masks  Wooden Headrests or Tribal paddles


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