Use extreme caution when buying shell jewelry

Marine gastropods

At first, the title of this post was going to be “Don’t buy shell jewelry,” but that seemed a bit too dramatic, so I settled on “Use extreme caution when buying shell jewelry.” What’s the big deal you ask?

Here’s the situation: A lot of shells are homes for animals, even tiny, tiny shells often contain tiny, tiny animals. If people remove shells from from the ocean, most of the time that shell contains an animal that dies.

Maybe in the good old days, people just picked up shells that washed ashore, but now with shell jewelry in demand and billions of people across the globe trying to make a buck, there is growing concern that shell jewelry is leading to too many animals being taken from the ocean.

Also, picking up shells along the shore is risky business because many marine snails have adapted to living with the rise and fall of the tides. This means that a shell found out of the water could still contain a live animal waiting for high tide. So the best policy is to leave shells where they are.

To be safe, I don’t buy shell jewelry anymore, but if you feel compelled then ask a lot of questions. If it’s a local artist, ask where the shell came from, how it was collected and if there was still an animal in it. If it’s shell jewelry being sold at a huge chain store, find out where the jewelry was made and then it’s up to you to decide whether it’s a good purchase.

By asking questions, you will at least start a discussion and hopefully get people to think about the dark side of shell jewelry. Are you wearing shell jewelry or a dead animal’s home? It’s a fine line these days.

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