Check if There’s Anything You Didn’t Know About “What is Cowrie Shell Jewelry”

A smiling woman wearing a seed bead necklace with cowrie shell pendants and natural pearls

Source: Pinterest

Adding cowrie shell jewelry to a summer dress can give a woman an instant refresh. But what is cowrie shell jewelry? This blog will show you every significant thing about cowrie shell jewelry, including cowrie shells, cowrie shell meaning and spiritual meaning, symbolism, types of fashionable cowrie shell jewelry, etc.

What is Cowrie Shell?

Cowrie/ cowry is the common name for a group of large to small sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks in the family Cypraeidae. 

Cowrie Shells Meaning

Wearing cowrie shell body jewelry & colored bead bracelets

Source: Pinterest

Cowrie shell is a marine gastropod (family Cypraeidae) that widely lives in warm seas and has glossy and bright-colored shells. Cowrie shells currency used to be the best form of currency in the world. 

Cowries shells have been worn for centuries worldwide and jewelry created from cowrie continues to be a bright spark. Cowrie shells are known for the following symbolic and spiritual meanings:

  • Family to an ocean spirit of wealth and earth. People wearing cowries show that he/she might be family to an ocean spirit of earth and wealth. 
  • Symbol of fertility. Cowrie shells are regarded as a powerful symbol of fertility by numerous African tribes as. Worn around the hips, it’s said to help fertility. In jewelry or crafts, cowrie shells add an African exotic feel.
  • Cowries shells are the symbol of prosperity. Having a large number of cowrie shells was considered a sign of wealth in the US and African cultures. People who own more cowrie were treated with respect and honor.
  • Feminine energies. Cowrie shells have feminine energies and are referred to as birth, sexuality, and menstruation.

What Do Cowrie Shells Symbolize? 

  • Cowrie shells are typically used to symbolize wealth and fertility wherever they are found. They bring good luck and fame. 
  • They possess feminine power and are connected to birth, sexuality, and menstruation
  • Cowries are a symbol of prosperity in both American and African cultures. They were emblems of wealth and prosperity. People who have more cowrie shells were thought rich and given honor and respect. 
  • The Cowrie shell is the symbol of fertility in many African tribes. The split of the shell is said to stand for a woman’s vulva and was referred to as the “Giver or Elixir of life”. The cowrie shells aid fertility when wearing around the hips. 
  • Cowrie shells were also the best form of currency in various regions worldwide.

What Does a Cowrie Shell Look Like?

Different types of cowrie shells on a necklace

Source: Pinterest

Have you ever noticed? Every summer, white shells in ridged egg-shaped with slit openings on the bottom go viral among seashell jewelry. That is the typical appearance of the cowrie shell. 

These small and white cowrie shells look pretty similar to porcelain. You can also realize that some cowries feature spots in light reddish-brown color on the jewelry.

Where are Cowrie Shells Found?

Cowries are found in coastal areas, particularly in the Pacific and Indian oceans. They tend to be collected in these regions: Sri Lanka, Maldive Islands, Indian Malabar coast, Borneo, East Indian Islands, Maluku in the Pacific, and parts of the African coast from Ras Hafun to Mozambique. 

Famous Types of Cowrie Shells Used in Jewelry

A wide selection of cowrie shells is used for jewelry or ornament accessories. Roughly egg-shaped, they can grow up to 6 inches in length. The colors on the top sides of cowrie shells are white, light bluish-white, or buff. And some cowrie shells have dark brown or blackish round markings on the top. 

  • White Cowrie
White cowries

Source: Pinterest

Appearance: It’s smooth and polished, more or less egg-shaped. A flat base reveals a long, slit-like hole with serrated edges. 

Inch: The lengths of certain species range from 0.2 inches to 6.3 inches for the Atlantic deer cowrie.

Region: Common in the Indo-Pacific region. It’s a shallow-water species that occurs among reefs and rocky coasts.

  • Tiger Cowrie Shell
A hand holding a tiger cowrie shell in front of the sea

Source: Etsy

Appearance:  They are heavy and large shells with flat bottoms. The color pattern appears in two layers on a white background. Bluish-gray on the bottom and reddish to dark brown on the top.  

Several spots and blobs are seen on the two layers, surrounded by a yellowish-orange tint. On rare occasions, an all-black shell is discovered.

Inch: 3 inches for the average length. The largest tiger cowrie is 6.02 inches.

Tiger cowrie shell spiritual meaning: It has a resemblance to tiger skin which is believed to be ruled by the Hindu Goddess Maa Kali. The shells are believed to bring good luck and protect wear’s spirit, keeping away negative energy and the evil eye. Thus, Placing a tiger cowrie shell in the car or wearing a tiger cowrie shell necklace aids a safe journey and protects people when traveling.

  • Tiger Cowrie Purple Top
Tiger cowries purple top on the sand

Source: buy the sea online

Appearance: Well-known tiger cowrie. The shell’s brown and black spotted exterior is polished and smooth. In the lower layer of this purple cowrie shell resides purple color. 

Inch: Approximately 3 inches each tiger cowrie purple top.

Region: Indo-Pacific area and around the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

  • Snake Head Cowrie Snail
Tiger cowrie shells on a glossy background

Source: Etsy

Appearance: Snakehead cowrie shell has a dark brown base and white dots on its brown top. A white or mantle line goes from front to rear along the top of the shell. 

The mantle is olive-brown, covered with irregular yellow, green, or white spots. It’s covered with frilly, branching extensions.

Inch: Small cowrie shells approximately 1 inch.

Region: Indo-Pacific eastern African Coast to Hawaii coasts. It’s the most common Hawaiian cowrie shell in the Hawaiian island chain.

History and Story of Cowrie Shell & Cowrie Shell Jewelry

History: These cowrie shells are solid and durable. For ages, they have been used as shell currency from Africa to Asia, from Oceania to Europe. Recently, cowrie shells have gained popularity in the Western world. As their popularity grew, people started to mass-produce shells out of plastic.

The cowrie shell story: Hindu mythology says that during Samurad Manthan (churning of the cosmic ocean for immortality elixir), many things are (good or bad) churned out as by-products. During the churning, goddess Laxmi appeared from the ocean accompanied by cowrie shells. Laxmi is the deity of wealth, good fortune, and beauty, so the cowrie became auspicious and holy. 

One African legend is that the cowrie shells symbolize powerful protection from Goddess. It’s abundantly used in African attire, accessories, and African shell jewelry.

Cowrie Shell Jewelry

In this uncertain age, customers want a talisman. They tend to buy something that can bring them good luck and health. People are keener than ever to wear jewelry with a combination of gold, silver, and cowrie shells across their necks, ears, and fingers.

Gold Cowrie Shell Necklace

Wearing cowrie shell necklace with pearl and colorful bead necklaces

Source: Pinterest

Cowrie shells on the necklace represent the protection from the goddess which is strongly powerful and is connected with the power and strength of the Ocean. A love of cowrie shells indicates that one could be a family ocean spirit of the earth and wealth, according to African legend.

Layering pieces or a single two-tone piece is still on-trend. Typical bright white cowrie contrasted with the glittering gold, a sturdy gold cowrie necklace or gold cowrie shell choker makes a statement and fun look. 14K gold cowrie shell beads necklace becomes increasingly attractive thanks to the favorable price.

Cowrie Earrings

Wearing gold cowrie earrings

Source: emilybelloma

One will hear the ocean when wearing cowrie shell earrings. Dangle earrings made from cowrie shells will sway alongside the cool coastal wind. Allergic-free gold perfectly partners with cowrie shells on earrings, which won’t turn wearers’ ears green.

More than gold cowrie shell earrings, lightweight silver cowrie shell earrings are also appealing. Cowrie shell hoop earrings and cowrie stud earrings help build a glamorous look.

Cowrie Bracelet

Wearing bohemian cowrie bracelet and handmade multi-colored beaded bracelet

Source: Pinterest

No matter what people accessorize, they will never go wrong with wearing a bracelet. When it comes to the cowrie bracelets, both men and women are fans of it. Gold cowrie shell bracelets and cowrie shell bangles are the most fashionable pieces among cowrie bracelets. 

Cowrie Shell Ring 

Wearing a silver cowrie shell ring mixed with thin silver rings and a statement ring

Source: Pinterest

Gold cowrie shell rings and sterling silver cowrie shell rings are jumping to the forefront for cowrie shell rings. 

Adorning a handmade sterling silver ring or gold ring with an organic white shell makes the jewelry bold. Wearing multiple rings mixed with cowrie shell rings and metal rings builds an edgy style.   

Cowrie Shell Anklet

Wearing a cowrie shell anklet layered with a gold chain pendant anklet and two lightweight anklets

Source: Pinterest


Cowrie shells in hair meaning?

Many African ladies wear little white cowrie shells in their hair because cowrie shells in hair mean bringing good luck and protecting the wearer’s spirit.

Are cowries valuable?

Like any other natural thing, a cowrie can be valued in various ways. There’s the apparent criterion of price, which is closely linked to the beauty of cowries. 

Meyer described the most spectacular cowries as “like works of art.” It’s rumored that the most valuable cowrie ever sold for more than $50,000.

Are cowrie shells rare?

Cowrie shells are the rarest and most sought-after shells in the world. These single-shelled mollusks having a zipper-like opening on the bottom come with a dazzling variety of markings and colors. They are considered so rare and beautiful during human history. 

Why do Africans wear cowrie shells?

In Africa, the shells are known to bring good luck and safeguard the spirit, and many tribes employ them in spiritual rites. 

They are also symbols of femininity and fertility. African women frequently wear them not just to aid in conception but also to aid in childbirth. Cowrie shells hold the spirit of an ocean goddess, bringing good fortune and health.


Cowrie shell jewelry has always been an emotional purchase. The positive message and energy it brings make cowrie shell jewelry attractive. Except for the cowrie shell jewelry stated above, see our shell jewelry collection for more!

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