Browse Categories

How They're Made: Shell Beads

Did you know that shell pearl beads are made from natural shells? These beautiful pearls are carefully cut, polished, dyed, and strung from natural shell materials! Keep reading to learn more about this beautiful product. Click here to shop our shell pearls.


Shell pearls are made from large shell pieces measuring nearly an inch thick and several inches long. These shell pieces are similar to abalone or mother of pearl in the hardness and material, though they may have a rough outward appearance. These large raw pieces are cut into more manageable sized cubes. By cutting these by hand, the craftsman can leave thicker shell pieces for larger pearls and small pieces for smaller diameter beads.
Once the raw pieces have been cut, similar sized pieces are placed in a round grinder. This metal grinder will roughly smooth out the edges of each raw cut piece. When the grinding process is finished, the shell beads are semi-round and can be examined for flaws. Occasionally small surface occlusions will appear; these pieces are discarded.
Any flaws can be quickly addressed with a hand polisher. This eliminates any rough edges that the metal grinding plate did not smooth out. These beads undergo a quick examination - they're then drilled and strung. These strung beads are evenly spread and spaced to ensure a high quality dye.
The dye is a non-toxic coloring that dyes the beads from surface to core. The dye is a trade secret, with some colors such as mauve and peacock having signiture color tones.
Once each bead is dyed, a baking process adds the finishing touch to the color. These beads are heat treated to make sure the colors are permenant. The heat treatment also adds another level of durability to the color.
After the beads are cooled, they are polished to a high gloss by another metal smoothing plate.
Following the final polish another phyiscal examination takes place before each bead is strung, measured, and sorted. Examinations look at the color consistency, sizing, drilling, and gloss level. Only the best of the best are packaged and shipped.
Shell pearls may be slightly different than pearls, but they're just as natural and beautiful - they're made from natural materials, look magnificent, and are a sensible alternative to pricy pearls.