When I was a kid we used to go to the southwest and see Native American jewelry all the time. That little pop of coral red or orange was a consistent feature of many jewelry traditions -- especially the inlaid Zuni stuff. I always thought that was coral. It was only recently that I realized it was spiny oyster.
Spiny Oyster is a shell. Yes, it takes on the red/orange color of coral … as well as purple and other colors.
Spiny Oyster comes from the shell of the Spondylus varius, a bivalve mollusk. In the ancient cultures of the American Southwest -- through to South America -- the spiny oyster was not only a source of nourishment, but many of the cultures thought it had religious value and even used them as money.
The Inca referred to spiny oyster as mullu and used the shell as an offering for rain and good harvests during the spring.
The mollusks themselves have a set of eyes that run around the edge of its shell. In the art of the Moche, the eyes are grossly exaggerated suggesting they believed they had an extraordinary power of sight, and that may have been gained by consuming it.
At LBJ, we can totally understand why the Native American artisans used Spiny Oyster in their jewelry … we love it in ours! It’s gorgeous! The color is perfect to make Turquoise pop and is one of the best stand-alone pops of color!
Here are a few of the Spiny Oyster offerings coming this Fall! And the pop of Red/Orange color of Spiny Oyster is totally on-trend for the foreseeable future. (Look at Pantone “Chili Pepper”, “Summer Fig” and Cranberry”.
For us at LBJ, however, Spiny Oyster is always in style! What a perfect color for jewelry!
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Lidia Butkowska - Guziak
December 02, 2022
Very interesting article .I will be baying Spiny Oyster jewels they are beautiful