Shells used for making Jewellery
Shells are made by sea animals, specifically called mollusks or crustaceans, like snails, sea urchins, clams and oysters. They have characteristically hard outer case that functionally acts as a protective barrier for these animals. Their soft bodies are secured against dangers such as parasites, sharp objects, heavy-footed animals and animals who would want to feed on them, by these hard coverings. A shell grows as the surface of the mollusk’s body secretes a chemical that contains calcium, the same element that makes bones hard. The calcium helps form the hard shell and when the mollusk dies; the shell is left behind, which can be used for shell crafting and creation of shell jewellery.
Shell Jewellery in India
Shell handicraft is a valuable craft in India owing to considerable demand for shell products in Indian markets. Three types of shells like conch shells, tortoise shells and sea shells are used for shell handicraft. A frequently used technique of shell handicraft in India is Silver Filigree or Meenakari or Tarakashi handicraft. The twisted threads of silver or gold are used to create silver filigree. It is divided into three distinctive types, namely, meenakari, khulla jaal and flowers and leaves. The art of silver filigree is evident in jewelleries like earrings, necklaces and bracelets. Cuttack in Odisha and Karimnagar in Telangana are renowned centres of silver filigree craft.
Shell Craft in India
Mother of Pearl is a smooth shining iridescent substance forming the inner layer of the shell of some molluscs, especially oysters and abalones and is used for ornamentation. It is so named as it is used to seed cultured pearl. Indian craftsmen have favoured that wood inlay boxes and carvings can also be worked into rings, pendants and earrings. For intricate style jewellery the inside colours of the shell are best and these can make lovely, shimmering pieces. These can then be seen pierced to the shape wished.
Places of Shell Craft
Generally, places located on the sea shore like Gulf of Mannar, Goa and Odisha are the places for shell handicraft.
Silver Jewellery in India