Spiny Oyster Shell, scientifically called Spondylus, has been used in Native American jewelry for centuries. Spondylus is Latin, for spines on its back, which says it all. The shells, which are covered with intimidating spines, come in an array of bright colors ranging from purple to orange, red and yellow. Spiny oyster shells were carved and traded far and wide from as early as 10,000 years ago.
Before the introduction of Mediterranean red coral and silversmithing to the southwest, is interesting to note that the continuity of the use of turquoise with red & orange shell, along with the techniques and forms used in making jewelry has changed little in the southwest from ancient times.
Spiny oyster shells are found in the Gulf of California and the Pacific coast and south in the warm waters of South America. It is very difficult to harvest and polish and is much sought after by collectors. It has become very popular in southwestern jewelry. All of our spiny oyster jewelry is sterling silver and Native American made in New Mexico unless otherwise noted.