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.


Carving shells produces high amounts of fine dust. Work in a well-ventilated area and go outdoors if possible. Wear all safety gear and repeatedly brush away shell dust particles, especially if you have respiratory problems.

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.

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


The top of the pointed oval should reach the top edge of the shell. This saves you the hassle of cutting out the top portion. The bottom of the pointed oval should have two diagonal lines leading to it.

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


A Dremel tool must be used slowly. Do not drag or push the tool onto the shell. This will cause the wheel to slip past the shell, potentially hurting your fingers. The best technique is to gently hold the tool against the shell, barely moving and applying little pressure. The wheel gradually grinds and carves the shell material.


Leave the longest dotted line for last. This line is typically the hardest to cut, as it makes up the bulk of the shell.

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

Begin cutting along the solid line of the oval shape.


Every now and then, you may need to turn the shell over in order to get a better grip. This keeps your fingers from slipping while you work.

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

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

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

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

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

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


To create a hole straight through the shell, apply very light pressure. Do not move the Dremel tool sideways or push it though the shell. The tool should be steady and barely move; it grinds the shell gradually.

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

About the Author

Kirsten Nunez

Kirsten Nunez is a lifestyle writer and author focusing on crafts, recipes, and health. Since 2010, she has been sharing DIY projects at (formerly Studs & Pearls). In May 2014, she published a craft book, "Studs & Pearls: 30 Creative Projects for Customized Fashion." She lives in New York.