Natural easy-to-make shell necklaces are ideal for daily wear or elegant gatherings, and are appropriate for any age. Ocean beauties and surfers alike will enjoy making and wearing, colorfully unique shell necklaces, as these do not require clasps or man-made hardware. Simply string shells, and tie into natural chokers and necklaces.
Shell Necklace Supplies
30″ to 36″ pre-cut cotton string, jute twine, clear fishing line, or ribbon (curling or satin)
1 to 50 seashells, pre-washed and dried
Optional: (for adult necklaces)
1 spray can clear high-gloss finish
20 to 30 craft pearls (or recycled pearls from jewelry)
Where to Find Shells
Regardless the age group designing shell necklaces, this craft requires many dedicated hours of shell collecting, from several trips to your local beach. Shell baskets can also be purchased from a variety of sources, such as craft stores, online suppliers, or even from yard sales.
Friends or family members may have extensive shell collections to share with you. A promise to create lovely shell necklaces in return for these collections might become a fun bartering prospect for you and your kids.
Shell Necklaces for Kids
Probably the best ribbon to use for children (over 5 years old) is colorful curling ribbon, cotton string, or jute twine, to lace through a variety of shells, or a single unique shell. All shells considered for children should have smooth edges with naturally-occurring holes (or gaps) which may appear broken but are exactly the ones needed for stringing.
Cut ribbon into at least 30″ lengths, stringing the puka shells (Hawaiian for shells with holes) and tying each one individually along the length of the ribbon. This will prevent loosing the entire necklace if dropped.
Each shell will stay in its original position, through fumbling, crafting, or dropping, if tied on individually one-at-a-time. Once all the shells are tied into place along the ribbon, tie it into a bow behind your child’s neck, or make a knot allowing the necklace to slip on-and-off over the head.
Shell Necklaces for Teens
Dress up a shell necklace for your teens using colorful satin ribbons (available in several widths) or dress down using a natural jute twine, or clear fishing line, for stringing pre-selected puka shells. Your teens may want to sort shells first by colors, pure whites, or neutral tones.
Shells should be secured in the middle position (focal-point) of the necklace, and strung up from both sides of the middle shell. Build up each side from the middle shell, using graduated shells, positioning the smallest shells near the tie ends.
If the goal is to recreate an authentic “puka-shell” necklace, presort all shells using all similar sized shells. Stringing shells close together with or without a focal shell, still requires a middle shell to be tied into place for strength, and knotted at the ends for easy on-and-off overhead wear.
Shell Necklaces for Adults
Adult shell necklaces can be more exotic in design, using larger (heavier) shell designs, which must be offset using either wide-width ribbon, or all-around shell positioning. Pre-sort shells into desired color schemes, to ensure at least 20 to 50 shells, for stringing completely around your necklace or choker.
Organize shells into groups of small, medium and large shells. Optional: if you would like shells to retain a permanent wet-look glossy finish, highlighting the natural colors; select a can of clear high-gloss spray paint at your local craft or hardware store.
Arrange shells top side up, inside a clean pizza box, to spray outdoors with a coat of glossy finish. Allow shells to dry completely before bringing inside to string. Also optional; adding craft or recycled jewelry pearls in between shells. Then pre-cut the desired ribbon length (or clear fishing line for pearls) deciding ahead if you will be tying the ends into a bow behind your neck, or knotting (hiding the ends back-laced into the shells).
If you end up with too much line or ribbon, you can always trim it off, but it is difficult to add more if you are caught short. Follow the same mid-point focal shell instructions for teens, graduating shell sizes up from large on both sides of middle, to medium, ending up using the smaller shells around the neck.
Tie into place behind your neck, step back from the mirror, and admire your handiwork! Shell necklaces are extremely durable, and washable, even if you or your kids fail to remove them before showers. When the ribbon becomes worn, simply transfer shells onto another ribbon, string, or clear fishing line, for years of enjoyment.