Spondylus Shell Jewelry (Spiny Oyster)

I am always amazed at how extensively the native tribes travelled great distances back in the day. They fought over the use of the best land and resources to support their people but they knew they could never “own” the land, as we think of owning it today. They travelled for trade, warred for better food sources and valuable captives to replenish their numbers or trade to other tribes, and sometimes traveled just to visit friends and relatives.

In particular, they prized the richly colored spondylus shell that could only be found off of Baja California, Mexico, Central and South America, especially Ecuador, whose sailors travelled far and wide in balsa wood vessels as early as 3000 BC.

These shells were one of the most important sacred items of all time and were sought largely by Ecuadorian, Andean and Peruvian Chiefdoms. These shells represented fertility and other sacred symbols. They were carved into human and animal fetish figures that were believed to ward off evil and bring good luck. Life was hard and good luck always important!

Today we call this beautiful and much sought after orange, red and purple Spondylus shell in all its primitive beauty, Spiny Oyster, and I love to use it whenever I can in my jewelry.