Reise on the Hunt for Seashells

Spring is here, and summer is around the corner, and fashion is taking us to the beach. Seashell jewelry is a hot accessory this season. I’ve always said that even if you do not thrift clothing, you must always look into thrifting jewelry. Seashell pieces are easily found in thrift stores as they have been an on and off trend for years. Wearing them now instantly puts you in the fashion forward set. Here are a couple of pieces I’ve collected over the years.ThriftStyle-186.JPGSome may think mother of pearl is shell jewelry, but actually it is the inside lining of the shell called nacre. So while it is part of the shell, it is not technically shell. Go figure. The bracelet and necklace below are mother of pearl. ThriftStyle-185.JPGThe handbag below is an intricate take on mother of pearl and beading.


The pieces below are new additions. If I do the the math, I would say I paid less than $1 for each piece as they were included in a glass jar that contained bulk jewelry. I bought the jar specifically because I saw this beautiful gold cowrie piece peeking through the mish of sparky things that was stuffed in the jar. (Cowries are sea snails, and the glossy colorful shells with narrow openings were formerly used as money in parts of Africa and elsewhere.)


When buying a jar of bulk jewelry, one can never tell if the jewelry is good quality or if it is even intact. I can’t tell you how many times I have bought one of these jars and found outright junk, broken pieces and earrings that were missing the match. (This time I hit all three. Yahtzee!) But I was happy to discover that the cowrie necklace was in beautiful condition and there was a matching pair of earrings. A bonus is that the jewelry was signed “Coreen Simpson.” This of course sent me on my way to find out more about the designer, because you know I’m nosy about such things.

Coreen Simpson is a photographer and jewelry designer. She is famous for designing black cameos. “Before her pieces, black images on jewelry of this kind were pretty much unheard of, and when her collection launched at the Studio Museum of Harlem there were literally hoards of women lining up to get them.”  The cowrie shell pieces I found were sold through Avon in the late 80’s early 90’s. The necklace alone is currently priced between $125-$145. Not a bad investment.

This silver shell bracelet (below) also came in that same goodie jar. Not signed and not great quality but still worth the amount of money I shelled out for it. Sorry, I had to.


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