Sea Shell Pendants





Introduction: Sea Shell Pendants

About: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.

My wife’s grandfather spent years collecting sea shells up and down the coast of Mexico. One day he gave my kids a box of those shells. This particular cowrie shell fell out of little hands and broke in half. So naturally, I made pendants =).

Step 1: Cut a Piece Out

I used a scroll saw with a 20 teeth per inch blade on the saw's high setting.

The shell is slow to cut but it does cut well. Don’t force it and where a dust mask.

Be careful and work within your experience.

Step 2: Refine the Shape

Use files and rotary bits to clean up the shape to what you want.

At this point you can drill a hole in the pendant and make a jump ring or make a setting for it.

Keep that dust mask on.

Step 3: Make the Backing

Cut out a strip of metal. I’m using 22 gage steel from the home improvement store. The 12”x18” sheet cost me $8.00.

After the strip is cut out, hammer it flat with a non-metal hammer. Cut the strip to length. Use a drill bit and locking pliers to roll the edges over.

Find something round that matches the curve of the cut piece of shell. I use a plastic cup. Roll the metal strip over the cup to make it consistent with the shell. As you go check the shell against the strip.

At this point you can bevel the edges and glue the shell to the backing or you can add sides to the backing. I used an epoxy putty on one of the pendants because the shell hand a compound curves (curves in more then one direction). That filled out voids between the shell and the backing for a secure bond.

If you go the putty route, file off any excess.

Step 4: Solder

To add sides, cut a couple more strips of metal and solder them to the sides of the backing. Use diagonal cutting pliers to cut away the excess before you grind the edges flat.

Drill a hole where the loop is going to be and use a round file to expand the hole.

I'm using silver plumbing solder on steel so won't apper seamless.

Step 5: Finish

The pendant with out the backing just needs a jump ring.

The other pendants were brushed with a scouring pad on my drill press. I also painted the epoxy putty with a black paint pen.

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    30 Discussions


    *tries to form words*

    *fails miserably*

    This is... I mean, it's....

    ... wow. Incredible!

    1 reply

    Thanks for the idea, it is really cool! I can get cowrie shells pretty easily cause i'm in the tropics.... And i love making pendants and stuff, so i will certianly try this!!!!

    an instucatbles member who can use the macro settiong...
    you're my hero

    Note: The shells may be extremely hot after you cut them.

    i like the idea of using steel and the industrial strength of it. nice execution. what kind of chain would you need to hold that due to its weight and hardness of the metal?

    5 replies

    Thanks for the complement. Though your fore thought is deeper than mine. My wife is using a simple silver chain. I'll let you know it the pendant causes any excess wear.

    Just as an estimate... expect the chain to wear about twice the speed it would with a silver pendant of the same weight. In other words, almost no wear at all.

    shape edges will be the major downfall, if any, so by lightly chanfering the entery and exit holes for the chain, you should be good.

    As to how the overall weight of steel vs silver,
    well, most steel is around 8 grams per cubic cm. most silvers are around 10.5
    So, not only will the steel jewellery be lighter, on average, One can also use the additional material strength of the steel to use thinner sections even further reducing the weight of the final product.


    other than re-sale value, investment value, and that certain look that silver has, and steel does not, Steel wins hands down! :-)

    Great tip, thanks. I'm trying to source silver, but in reality, why bother unless you are really going to town on a part, steel is probably the way to go - and a lot less allergies to boot compared to some other copper based wires and chains...


    oops. forgot to clarify the first bit.

    The reason the chain will probably wear at twice it's normal speed is because almost all the wear will be on the softer chain, rather than split between the chain and pendant, as would occur if silver were used instead.

    This will be so slight that you'll probably not notice it, unless you use a silver test chemical on the pendant hole edges, which will accumulate a tiny silver plating, as the chain rubs across it. Purely mechanical transfer.

    Nice instructable!! One question - I noticed in one of the images, you had filed the edges of the shell to fit under the curvature of the rolled top and bottom edge. Later on, you soldered sides onto the backing.. How do you get the shell back into the backing, under those rolled edges?

    The shell would need to be out of the backing so that it could be soldered, right?
    Also, do you put any sort of adhesive on the back of the shell to hold it to the backing?

    1 reply

    Beveling the edges of the shell is for if you stop at that step. In that case you would just put some glue behind it.

    If you move on to the next step and solder on sides, you have to leave the edges square. File the shape to fit and then glue it in after the soldering is done.

    Cool result and great pictures! Could use with a bit more explanation along the way, though. For instance, what is a jump ring?

    1 reply