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:


  1. Hi, I just did a post linking back to you.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  2. So pretty! Came over from La Dolfina....glad I did:)

  3. Shells are wonderful sculptures created in the sea. You inspire me to consider returning to the use of shells in some of my jewelry pieces.

  4. Pamela, i am SO happy you feel that way because that was my original intent with this blog - to put a spotlight on what is possible with shells and hopefully inspire others to create their own brand of shell art. We can always use more great shell artists in the world! ;}

  5. I came over from La Dolfina, too. What a beautiful shell! Thank you for the story behind the shell...
    Jane (Artfully graced)

  6. The colors are just amazing!

    Featured your blog post about the True Blood Pool House -what a place!!!!!

  7. That's a great story... Thanks for sharing it with us... I would have missed it, if it wasn't for our dear friend Maya, thanks Maya! I'm gong to the Facebook page too.
    What a pretty blog...
    ~Really Rainey~

  8. Oh wow, just discovered your blog through Maya (she's the best) and am in blog heaven. I'm your latest follower. This is such an inspiring and interesting story! Love it. What an incredible shell. I adore that last piece of jewelery. Doesn't the orange go beautifully with the turquoise colour... Amazing. Pruxxx

  9. thank you for highlighting the fact that our shells are quickly disappearing due to pollution etc. In the short span of 30 years living on Kauai I have seen the massive decline. I used to walk on beaches filled with shells now they are a rarity. Please folks help our ocean and in so doing the treasures in it...

  10. Mahalo for showing my jewelry & mentioning my website, it is very much appreciated! Warm aloha to you! Monica

  11. Hi, is it possible to obtain these beautiful images above? They would work perfect in a guest room I am redecorating in a "Hawaiian Sunrise" theme. Thanks so much for any assistance you can provide. Aloha, Dan

  12. You are to be congratulated! I enjoyed the blog.
    Whenever I can step here.

    Brazilian art and culture. The art of Newton Avelino


Maira Gall