Shell Beads

Heishi originally meant "shell" and came to refer to tiny shell beads. The term now is applied to small disk shaped beads made from stone and mineral materials as well as shells. The smaller sized heishi beads require more labor and are therefore more expensive than the larger sized heishi beads.

Shell beads have long been used for personal adornment and jewelry making, as well as many other kinds of arts and crafts. They are common artifacts found in most archaeological excavations. Even when the culture was not a coastal one, shells were found in fresh water, traded, or sometimes found in prehistoric geological deposits. Because shells can be found in virtually every part of the world. They have been made into beads by every culture advanced enough to use tools.

Mother of pearl is the pearly inside layer of a mollusk shell (such as abalone, oyster, or snails), the same material the mollusk uses to create a pearl. Because shells are organic, they are quite soft and porous. This porosity allows them to accept dye readily, although they are available in many colors without any added treatements.


common treatments: often dyed
special care: Avoid impact and abrasion, do not clean in an ultra-sonic cleaner. (They can be quite heavy, so that should be taken into consideration when selecting them for use.)
hardness: N/A


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Abalone Shell Coin - SHGR0001
Perfection is a circle of these colorfully reflective 15mm abalone shell coins. Strands are approximately 15 inches long. Cut in China. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $14.70
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Abalone Shell Flat Spine - SHGD0001
These beautiful and exotic abalone shell flat spines are approximately 10mm x 27-30mm. Think palm trees and white sand beaches - mmmmm. Strands are approximately 15 inches long. Cut in China. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $14.70
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Abalone Shell Teardrop - SHGD0003
Charming abalone shell cut in a teardrop shape makes these colorful 10mm x 15mm beads most appealing. Strands are approximately 15 inches long. Cut in China. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $11.70
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Beige Mother of Pearl Chunks - SHBK0001
These little beige mother of pearl chunks are approximately 9mm x 10mm. Strands are approximately 15 inches long. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $5.20
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Black Shell Disk - SHGR0002
These 30mm black shell disks have a nice large 1.5mm hole. 1 disk per package
More Details+Price $1.35
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Cebu Beauty Shell Nugget - SHIK0001
Play with color using these cebu beauty (coraliophila violacea) nuggets. They vary in size, but generally range from 10mm to 13mm in diameter. Made in the Philippines. Strands are approximately 16 inches long. One strand per package.
More Details+Price $3.80
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Cebu Beauty Small Nuggets - SHIZ0001
Cebu beauty shell's tip is cut into these small nuggets, offering just the right size for an accent bead, about 8mm in diameter. Strands are approximately 15 inches long. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $5.15
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Gold Lip Small Heishi - SHUT0002
These small, approximately 3mm - 4mm, gold lip shell heishi beads offer a warm golden tone composed of a color range including white, gold, and light brown. The strands are approximately 24 inches long. Made in the Philippines. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $3.00
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Gold Lip Square Cut Shell
Gold Lip Square Cut Shell - SHUA0001
Caramel, honey, and cream - yum. These gold lip square cut shells look good enough to eat. Strands are approximately 15 inches long. Made in the Philippines. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $2.50
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Golden Blister Pearl - SHGD0002
These unique golden colored teardrop blister pearls with mother of pearl are simply regal. They are drilled sideways. They measure approximately 13mm x 18mm. Strands are approximately 15 inches long. (dyed) 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $14.00
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Luhanas Large Heishi Beads
Luhanas Large Heishi - SHOT0002
These strombus luhanas 6mm - 7mm heishi beads remind one of a beautiful spring blossom with their delicate pink and gray color. The strands are approximately 24 inches long. Made in the Philippines. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $3.95
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Luhanas Small Heishi Beads
Luhanas Small Heishi - SHOT0001
Pastel baby pink and small touches of pale gray make this 3mm - 4mm luhanas heishi in the pink for sure. The strands are approximately 24 inches long. Made in the Philippines. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $3.76
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Luhanus Square Cut - SHOM0001
Delicate baby pink luhanus shell is cut into approximately 8mm squares, somewhat like stone chips, offering great texture. Strands are approximately 15 inches long. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $2.00
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Mother of Pearl Beige Tubes - MOBT0001
Natural beige color 3x6mm mother of pearl tubes are small, yet most attractive as either an accent or the main attraction. Strands are approximately 15 inches long. Cut in China. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $4.80
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Mother of Pearl Coin - MPGR0001
We said WOW when we saw these 12mm black and gray mother of pearl coins. You will too. The strands are approximately 15 inches long. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $12.00
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Mother of Pearl Diagonal Drill Square - MPGM0001
These gray and black 14mm diagonally drilled mother of pearl squares offer lots of shine and pearly reflections. The strands are approximately 15 inches long. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $12.00
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Mother of Pearl Half Moon - MPTF0002
Charming white trucha shells cut into 8-9.5mm mother of pearl 1/2 moons call out to your creativity. Made in the Philippines. Strands are approximately 16 inches long. One strand per package.
More Details+Price $4.80
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Mother of Pearl Lentil - MPBR0001
These beautiful 12mm mother of pearl lentils are all natural color, and what a gorgeous color it is. They are a warm creamy golden and white. Cut in China, the strands are approximately 15 inches long. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $13.50
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Mother of Pearl Mauve Chunk - MPTZ0001
Mother of pearl in a gorgeous mauve pink is cut into chunks the shape of trillion tubes with much of the shell's original irregular shape. The strands are approximately 15 inches long. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $12.00
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Mother of Pearl White Tubes - MOTT0001
Beautiful white 3x6mm mother of pearl tubes are small, yet most attractive as either an accent or the main attraction. Strands are approximately 15 inches long. Cut in China. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $4.80
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Pink Blister Pearl - SHOD0001
These delicate pink teardrop blister pearls with mother of pearl beads are gorgeous, feminine, wonderful, fabulous. . . getting carried away here. They measure approximately 13mm x 18mm. The strands are about 15 inches. (dyed) 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $14.00
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Red Lip 8mm Heishi - SHQT0003
Substantial, 8mm red lip heishi blend pastel pink to rich bright lipstick pink. Made in the Philippines. Strands are approximately 15 inches long. One strand per package.
More Details+Price $3.50
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Red Lip Small Heishi Beads
Red Lip Small Heishi - SHQT0004
Hot pink and white make a beautiful combination in these 3mm - 4mm diameter heishi beads. The strands are approximately 24 inches long. Made in the Philippines. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $3.52
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Red Lip Square Cut Shell
Red Lip Square Cut Shell - SHQM0001
Hot pink and white in a neat little square offers endless possibilities. Strands are approximately 15 inches long. Made in the Philippines. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $2.00
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Small Abalone Shell Disks - SHGR0004
These small 12mm abalone shell disks have a 1.5mm hole. 6 disks per package
More Details+Price $3.60
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Small Black Shell Disks - SHGR0005
These small 12mm black shell disks have a 1.5mm hole. 6 disks per package
More Details+Price $2.70
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Small Conch Shell Disks - SHBR0003
These small 12mm conch shell disks have a 1.5mm hole. 6 disks per package
More Details+Price $3.60
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Small Trucha Shell Disks - SHTR0004
These 12mm trucha shell disks offer the beauty of mother of pearl in a small package. 6 shell disks per package
More Details+Price $3.60
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White Blister Pearl - SHTD0001
These natural white teardrop blister pearl with mother of pearl beads are oh so pretty. They are side drilled through the middle of the bead. Strands are about 15 inches. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $14.00
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White Curly Shell - SHTZ0004
Darling curly white shell beads have just a touch of the dark brown shell still showing. They vary in size but are generally about 8mm in diameter. Strands are approximately 15 inches long. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $5.20
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White Shell Disk - SHTR0001
These 30mm white shell disks are as pure white as the driven snow with a 1.5mm hole. 1 disk per package
More Details+Price $3.00
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Yellow Shell Disk - SHUR0001
These 30mm yellow shell disks are a beautiful pastel yellow on the back with a creamy pearlescent finish on the front and have a nice large 1.5mm hole. 1 disk per package
More Details+Price $2.25
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American Purple Shell Ovals - SHIV0001
These 8x12mm American purple shell flat oval beads are a gentle mauve pink. Their natural color is similar to plum jade. Strands are approximately 15 inches long. Cut in China. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $14.75
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Mother of Pearl Flat Oval - SHTV0001
Pearls are really the only thing one can compare to these beautiful 10mm x 20mm flat oval mother of pearl beads. Strands are approximately 15 inches. Cut in China. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $5.00
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Black Pen Shell Spines
Black Pen Shell Spines - SHEZ0005
If you want to make a statement, these will do it. Black pen spines vary in length, but are generally 35mm - 40mm in length. The strands are approximately 15 inches long. Made in the Philippines. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $3.92
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Mother of Pearl Spine - MPTN0002
Are you in the mood for a desert isle? These mother of pearl spines are quite varied in shape and size, but generally are about 1 inch in length. The strands are approximately 15 inches. Product of the Phillipines. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $5.25
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Fossil Ammonite - SHKF0001
Whole fossil ammonites are not exactly shells, but they were once. These strands have various sizes of ammonites, but most have approximately 10 beads per strand. Cut in China. (untreated) 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $31.81
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Mother of Pearl Chips (Natural) - SHBA0001
The natural beige color of these mother-of-pearl chips is fabulous in summer jewelry. Strands are approximately 34 inches. Drilled in China. (untreated) 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $2.61
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Long Spine Urchin (matte) - SHBZ0001
The size of these urchin spines varies so much it is hard to give you an idea, but we'll try. The one we measured was 12mm x 80mm, but don't hold us to that. Mother Nature doesn't stamp these things out with a cookie cutter. Strands are approximately 15 inches. 1 strand per package
More Details+Price $22.39
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