With an estimated 120,000 species of shells (mollusks) worldwide, their appearance can vary greatly.
Some are covered with elaborate ridges and protrusions while other types of seashells are more uniform and polished.
Their unique appearance make excellent armour for soft bodied animals, such as snails, clams, pipis, scallops, mussels and oysters.
This helps to keep them safe from predators while also helping them from sinking into mud or sand.
Seashells have played a significant part in human culture.
In early centuries, rare cowrie shells were used as a form of currency and trade, particularly in Africa and Asia.
They are also known to be the very first form of jewelry and adornment, and some of the most beautiful seashells have been used for ornamentation and ceremonial outfits.
Today, mollusks are still widely used in the jewelry trade, particularly mother of pearl and abalone shells thanks to their lustrous opalescent finish.
Here's 6 of the most rare and beautiful.
Nautiluses are one of the most beautiful types of seashells in the word.
This rare and intriguing living fossil appeared nearly 500 million years ago, and can be found living on deep slopes and coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific.
If you take a cross section look at a Nautilus shell, you would see that they are made up of many coiled chambers.
The outer chamber houses the squishy body of the nautilus, while their inner chambers are filled with a nitrogen-gas mixture.
This is what gives the Nautilus its natural buoyancy and its unique jet propulsion to help them swim.
Their beautiful seashell armour is comprised of pearlescent layers which disguises them in the sea.
Their striking iridescent shells are sought-after amongst shell collectors and make exquisite pieces of jewelry, like our beautiful statement Nautilus Shell Necklace.
Hundred-Eyed Cowrie Shell
The Hundred-Eyed Cowrie Shell species is one of the rarest seashells in the world.
You will be lucky to spot this unusual sea jewel feeding around shallow coral reefs and hiding under loose rocks along the shores of the remote tropical islands of Chagos, Madagascar, Reunion and the Seychelles.
Seashell identification is pretty easy with the Hundred-Eyed Cowrie Shell.
This beautiful type of seashell is creamy in colour and covered in tiny brown circles which look like eyes – hence its name.
Their distinctive polka dot pattern and perfect porcelain finish make these rare cowrie shells really recognisable.
Queen Conch Shell
The regal Queen Conch Shell has long been considered one of the most beautiful types of shells.
Growing up to 10 inches in length, the Queen Conch is one of the largest seashell species in existence and comes from the Strombidae family of shells which are native to the Caribbean Sea.
With the combination of their gigantic size and desirable looks, this particular type of shell species is now at threat as they have been overfished for their meat and are popular amongst shell collectors.
Early civilizations found interesting uses for the Queen Conch, such as a horn for religious ceremonies and ornamentation purposes.
Miyoko Murex Seashell
The angelic Miyoko Murex or Chicoreus Miyokoae seashell is one of the most beautiful types of shells in the world.
This particular type of shell can be found in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines and the Solomon Islands.
Its ribbed texture and angel-like wing features make this shell species highly recognisable.
While the Miyoko Murex of the Philippines is mostly an orange-brown colour, the same shell species found in the Solomon Islands are pure white.
This beautiful seashell comes from the Muricidae family of shells, which are large predatory sea snails, often referred to as rock snails or murex snails.
Conus Gloriamaris Seashell
The Conus Gloriamaris or ‘Glory of the Sea Cone’ as it is more commonly known, is one of the most expensive and rarest seashells in the world.
This absolutely beautiful seashell comes from the Conidae or cone snail family, and originates from the Indo-Pacific region.
The Conus Gloriamaris seashell can be identified by its incredible cone shape and intricate crosshatch pattern found in shades of creamy brown.
This Conidae’s elegant features make this beautiful type of seashell one of the most valuable natural history objects in existence.
Venus Comb Murex Shell
The Venus Comb Murex derives from the Muricidae family of shells.
This beautiful seashell is typically found in the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific.
What makes this one of the most beautiful types of shells is their elaborate outer siphonal canal, which is covered in hundreds of delicate spines.
These spines help the sea snail protect itself from predators and stops them from sinking into sand and mud.
Although this is not one of the rarest seashells in the world, perfect specimens of the Venus Comb Murex are hard to find due to their extremely delicate formation.
If you’re a seashell lover, shop our ocean jewelry now!
Shop our full range of inspirational, ethically sourced and sustainable shell jewelry collection.
Don’t forget that a portion of every purchase made at Citrus Reef goes towards coral conservation efforts across the globe!
It’s a nice read! I love picking up seashells. I actually picked up a hundred eyed cowrie not knowing it was rare! It was from a very remote island here in the Philippines .
Hiya! I enjoyed reading this article! I just wanted to let you know that “civilizations” is spelled incorrectly. Thank you again for the great information!!!
Have a great rest of your day!!!