At Prada’s fall-winter 2017 runway show, designer Miuccia Prada sent models down the runway in high-fashion versions of a tourist’s favorite: the shell necklace.
Worn with cozy cardigans, bulky sweaters, and even a knit bikini top or two, Prada’s puka shell necklaces (mixed with Southwestern-inspired silver) conjured twilight walks on the beach and kids playing dress-up amid boxes overflowing with fabrics and trinkets.
Shells had already been creeping into fashion-centric jewelry collections at that point—French designer Aurélie Bidermann, for one, had debuted her popular painted shell necklace design, Merco. But the Prada show rechristened the folksy shell as high-fashion fodder.
Shell necklaces at Prada’s fall-winter 2017 runway presentation—the show that launched a thousand crustacean cases (image courtesy of Prada)
There’s no telling how widespread the trend will be, but surely we’ll be seeing fashion-forward gals flock to chic shell pieces this summer—and my guess is that we’ll be spotting the look for several seasons to come.
Shells and shell motifs have also infiltrated designer accessories for summer 2018—check out this Tory Burch bag studded with pearlescent shells and these shell-inspired stilettos from Christian Louboutin.
Jewelry retailers not close to a coast should aim to stock creative, and even quirky, shell designs—not snoozy shell-motif metal charms and the like. The emerging trend hinges on inventive and elegant applications of humble puka, conch, and other shapely shells.
Below are a few of my favorite shell pieces on the market.
Vanessa Montiel Golden Puka earrings with sustainably sourced puka shell and 22k gold vermeil on sterling silver, $295
Vanessa Montiel Golden Puka bracelet with sustainably sourced puka shell, stone emerald, and 22k gold vermeil on sterling silver, $305
Aurélie Bidermann Merco necklace with genuine lacquered shell mounted as a pendant on an 18k gold chain, $470
Rebecca De Ravenel Ariel 2 Drop black wooden shell earrings with turquoise stones and clip back, $315
Tohum Design Concho Puka Bracelet 11, $297
Tohum Design Concha Cone earrings (price not listed)
Albus Lumen x Ryan Storer shell-embellished choker, $220
Top photo: Rebecca de Ravenel Tallulah Charm hoop with natural wood and topaz stones, $495