To make cowrie shell jewelry, choose from more than 250 species of cowrie shells. Styles include purple top, snakehead, ring top, Arabian, map cowries, lynx cowries, deer cowries (which appear like a speckled fawn's back) and tiger cowries. These varieties range in size from 1/5 inch up to 6 inches. With a few basic instructions and cowrie shells, you can make your own personalized cowrie shell jewelry.

Make a Cowrie Shell Necklace

Choose the type of strand you wish to use to make your necklace. A thin cord, hemp or nylon thread all work well. Start with about 30 inches of cord, more or less depending on the desired length. Choose the shells you wish to work into your necklace. Add extras like beads, gems, pearls, crystals, interesting shells or other pieces.

Pick a large center piece that will be the focal point of your necklace. Fold the cord in half and push the looped end into the hole in the focal piece. Pull the loop through and push the loose ends through the loop. Pull the loose ends all the way through so that the cord is tight against the shell.

Place a bead or shell on both ends of the cord and push it all the way to the focal piece so it sits snug against it. Now you can start stringing your shells or other pieces on both ends of your cord until you have filled both sides of the necklace. To finish, bring the loose ends together and tie them in a slip not. You can make a bracelet in the same fashion using a shorter cord.

Make a Cowrie Shell Ring

Take a single shell and string it on a short piece of nylon thread. Attach it to a simple band by wrapping the thread tightly around the band several times. Push the thread under the band so it is not seen from the top. Tie it off and trim the ends.

Make the shell secure by using a dab of hot glue on the underside of the ring to hold the shell in place. Make sure that the glue is smooth across the threads so it will not irritate the skin.

Let it set for a few minutes and you are ready to wear your ring.


  • When drilling holes in your shell, check your drill settings and slow the drill down. Use gentle pressure. Any pressure that is too quick or too hard will break your shell.