Friday, 24 September 2010

BEAUTIFUL SEASHELLS: The Hawaiian Sunrise Shell

They say the ancient kings of Hawaii would send servants out to graze the beaches at dawn looking for a special shell. They were given the name "Sunrise Shell" because the best time to find them was in the early morning, when the sun's light would reflect off the shell's beautiful vibrant hues, making them easier to spot.

Pecten Langfordi (Langford's Pecten) or better known by its common name "Sunrise Shell" is a hard to find deep water scallop, native only to the Hawaiian Islands. Sunrise Shells are highly prized for both collecting and jewelry.

Because of their rarity, Sunrise Shells can be extremely expensive. Even an imperfect, tide worn specimen can sell for well over $100. And if that tide worn specimen happens to be an unusual color, it can sell for even more.

I found a great article on from 2003 about the Sunrise Shell craze. It discusses pricing of these tiny treasures. Direct link to the article:

Today, a large issue with the Sunrise Shell is conservation. The Sunrise Shell is NOT considered an endangered species. However, because it is native only to the Hawaiian Islands, this raises important questions about the collection practices of this already rare species of scallop.

The best specimens (the ones that fetch the highest price on the open market) are usually the ones divers collect. Some divers not only take dead specimens but the live ones as well.

How can you tell if the Sunrise Shell you would like to purchase was taken dead or alive? Well, it helps to know who you are buying the shell from but if you don't the next best way to tell is - if the person selling the shell is selling single shells (a half) or a whole natural pair. If someone is selling a whole pair there's a good chance it was taken live and you may want to rethink your buying decision.

Interested in conserving this great speices?

Photo by Micah


The Sunrise Shell is generally used in jewelry or in some other form of personal adornment. Their are many wonderful artisans who create beautiful, one-of-a-kind jewelry with these shells. If you are in the market for such a piece, you may want to check out these -

Sunrise Shell Jewelry by Monica Parker:

Photo By Monica Parker

One word - Spectacular! Monica designs and creates amazing one-of-kind Sunrise Shell jewelry. No live specimens are ever used!

You can view more fine Sunrise Shell jewelry by Monica and learn more about Sunrise Shells at theses web addresses:

Monica's main web site -

Sunrise Shell Jewelry by Jana Schot:

Photo By Jana Schot

Simply beautiful! Jana combines fine bead work with Sunrise Shells.

You can view more of Jana's fine Sunrise Shell jewelry at these web addresses:

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