How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making

By Kirsten Nunez

Create beach-inspired jewelry pieces with natural or manufactured shells, for sale at many craft stores. Thick, durable shells become lasting jewelry pieces. Follow this detailed tutorial to learn how to carve a shell for your next jewelry project.

How to Carve Shell for Jewelry Making
credit: How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
Shells are natural materials that can be used as focal points in jewelry making.
How to Carve Shell for Jewelry Making
credit: How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
Use proper safety gear for this project.

Step 1

Draw a pointed oval shape along the inside of the shell. The underside of the shell becomes the front of your pendant. Position the oval on the far left or right to make it easier to carve out. Make sure the top of the oval meets the top edge of the shell.

How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
credit: How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
Pencil can be easily erased, making it an ideal marker for this project.

Step 2

Draw dotted lines at equal intervals from the outline of the oval to the edge of the shell.

How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
credit: How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
Dotted lines around the main shape serve as a cutting guide.

Step 3

Attach the cut-off emery wheel to the Dremel tool. Begin cutting the shortest dotted lines, closest to the shell's edge.

How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
credit: How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
Slowly and carefully cut away the shell.

Step 4

Before continuing, double check that the top of the pointed oval meets the top edge of the shell. Adjust if necessary.

How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
credit: How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
Make any adjustments before carving the rest of the shell.

Step 5

Begin cutting along the solid line of the oval shape.

How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
credit: How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
Keep a good grip each time you use the cutting wheel.

Step 6

Continue cutting along the oval shape. Do not focus on creating perfect edges because you sand them later.

How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
credit: How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
Focus on separating the shape from the rest of the shell.
How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
credit: How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
Uneven edges will be fixed at a latter step.

Step 7

Continue cutting until you separate the pointed oval from the rest of the shell.

How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
credit: How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
Excess shell parts can be used for additional projects.

Step 8

Attach the aluminum oxide grinding stone to the Dremel tool. Smooth down the edges, forming the oval shape.

Step 9

Attach the drum sander to the Dremel tool. Sand the flat surface and sides of the shell for a smooth finish.

How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
credit: How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
Sand paper can be used instead of a sanding drum attachment.

Step 10

Attach the felt polishing wheel to the Dremel tool. Polish the shell's surface to a shine.

How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
credit: How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
Polish the shell until it reaches your desired level of shininess.

Step 11

Attach the high-speed cutter to the Dremel tool. Create a hole near one of the pointed ends of the oval.

How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
credit: How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
Cutting a hole lets you use the shell in jewelry making.

Step 12

Shake off all dust particles. String, cord or a jump ring can be attached to your handmade carved shell.

How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
credit: How to Carve Shell Material for Jewelry Making
A shell pendant can be used in handmade necklaces, bracelets and earrings.