RED Hearts: DIY Shell Necklace

RED Hearts are guest posts on I Heart Daily from the authors of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today. Today’s RED Hearts post is from RED author Carey Dunne, 22, in NYC, who writes about the perfect beachy necklace -- that you can make:

If you’re at the beach, trying to distract yourself from this summer’s extreme heat, no need to go looking pirate-style for an X that marks the buried treasure spot. The real jewels are usually in plain sight.

People have been adorning their bodies with seashells for ages: In Hawaii, wearing jewelry made from puka shells was thought to ensure a peaceful voyage for seafarers, and eastern Native American tribes traditionally carved symbolic designs into polished whelk, mussel, and conch shells to make gorgets, pieces of armor for the throat. Today, high-end designers like Mesi Jilly sell their shell-based jewelry at places like Bergdorf Goodman.

But you can avoid Bergdorf prices and seaside town gift shops by making shell jewelry yourself -- for free. Last weekend, I took my first trip to the beach this summer and collected a bunch of gold- and copper-colored shells. It took less than an hour to make them into a necklace.

I used shiny, thin iridescent Anomiidae, also known as jingle shells or mermaid’s toenails. It’s easy to poke holes in them with a safety pin. (For thicker shells, you might need a drill.) Your jewels may come in an ocean of options; the world is your oyster. In fact, even oyster shells can be turned into charms, as seen on Lillydallie’s Etsy shop.

Another idea: Add beads or objects to your necklace. I strung spare metal watch parts onto mine. At the shop Evolution in NYC’s Soho, I found a small blue boar’s tusk for $1 and wrapped it in copper wire. To make the necklace in this photo, I poked holes in the shells with a safety pin and made a symmetrical-ish pattern. Then I strung the shells and watch parts on a black silk string; I fixed them in place by dripping hot candle wax around each.

Now just try to stop saying “She sells seashells” as you browse Etsy or by the seashore.

RED Hearts guest poster Carey Dunne is an author of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today, which is out in paperback.