Shell Jewelry Is This Summer’s Hottest Accessory
(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- For many, the peak of puka-shell relevance came and went with David Cassidy in The Partridge Family. For jewelry designer Irene Neuwirth, who grew up near the ocean in Southern California, that beach influence never waned. “I was really into puka shells in college,” she says. “I love using stones that feel like they come from the bottom of the sea.”
Jewelry inspired by the beach was one of the biggest trends in this year’s collections. Cowrie, cockle, sunray venus, and scallop shells are being paired with conventional precious stones such as diamonds and emeralds.
Brazilian designer Silvia Furmanovich has used shells over her 18-year career to highlight the “beauty that already exists in nature.” One of her favorite books is Gift From the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s 1955 collection of essays in which shells evoke meditations on the stages of human life. This year she created a pair of earrings made with natural shell, turquoise, and diamonds. They go with just about anything: “It depends on the person,” she says. “But you could even wear them for a black-tie event.”
Neuwirth’s puka-shell-inspired necklace doesn’t use real shells, but the string of opal beads is designed to look like something a beach bum might wear. There’s a hiding-in-plain-sight factor that boosts its sentimental value. “It’s such an intimate thing,” she says, “because nobody knows what it is.”
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