On a recent trip to Bermondsey Antiques Market, as I wandered clutching a freshly purchased giant conch and wearing my favourite Wald Berlin shell necklace, a stall holder shouted “Oi, shell lady”, gesturing towards his shell-tastic wares. Whilst this label felt justified it also made me worry, ‘Oh no, I’m going to become the old lady who lived in a conch.’
I’ve always loved collecting shells. They remind me of summer and I really live for summer and all that it entails. Secondly for the search: the same reason I love vintage shopping, car boot sales and flea markets. To have a good old rummage is really my favourite way to pass the time and finding a diamond in the rough gives me a rush like no other. Peak shell-love lead to an unplanned pilgrimage to ‘Shell World’ in Florida, which is, in true American style, an all shelling and all conching emporium of seashells and which I made my family drive an hour to (next on my list is the Shell Garden in Jersey).
Thirdly, I find them the most aesthetically pleasing of things. The soft pinks and browns (the colours and markings are apparently the result of what and how often they have eaten) their undulating and spiralling shapes and if you’re lucky shimmering mother of pearl insides are endlessly alluring. Fourthly, shelling is a strangely mindful activity both to focus the mind and to think about all the weird and wonderful little molusks who once lived in these beautiful little homes.
As with all trends that you have long-time loved, it’s both incredibly exciting that suddenly brands everywhere are producing the exact thing that you’ve been searching Etsy for years for and picking up in markets, and can kinda kill the love a little with, well, overkill. So with that I give you some of my favourite shell jewellery of the moment. But while Mango’s shell necklace sure is pretty, and Tohum is an investment you’ve got to make, why not head out to the next beach you find yourself near, practise a little Conchology, and string yourself up a necklace with your treasures.