What You Need to Know About Puka Shell Jewelry

Small white clam shells known as puka shells are an easy fashion statement for any beach-goer. They first gained popularity in the 1960s, with surfers cladding themselves in them as a remembrance of their trips to Hawaii or other tropic locales. The iridescent hole in each one, which is called a “puka,” is what gives these shells their distinct look.

The craze was helped by the fact that celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor and David Cassidy of Partridge Family fame, loved them, resulting in a number of magazine covers that showed them wearing them, according to an article in Mel Magazine in 1974. The trend shifted into bro culture in the ’90s, as high school and college-bound teens coveted them.

However, authentic puka shells can be hard to find today. Most jewelry with a “puka” tag is actually made of beads that are cut from other types of shells, such as clam shells and even plastic. In addition, if a necklace’s edge is smoother than it would be after being tumbled in the surf over time, it’s likely not genuine puka shell jewelry.

While a few authentic puka shell necklaces remain, the majority of ones now being sold are imitations. To avoid getting ripped off, it’s best to visit a local artisan market or look for them at online retailers that specialize in handmade beach and ocean-inspired jewelry, as well as jewelry stores that sell Native Hawaiian items. Puka Shell Jewelry

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