6 Rare and Beautiful Types of Shells

The most beautiful types of shells come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are covered with elaborate ridges and protrusions while other types of seashells are more uniform and polished. Their excellent armour helps mollusks stay safe from predators, while their unique appearance can stop 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.

Shells are 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.

The oldest shell necklace dates back over 100,000 years and is made from the Swollen Nassa seashell. Today, mollusks are still widely used in the jewelry trade, particularly mother of pearl and abalone shells thanks to their lustrous opalescent finish.  

Nautilus Shell

Type of Nautilus Seashell side view
The name Nautilus is derived from the Latin word meaning sailor

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 jewelers and shell collectors alike.

Hundred-Eyed Cowrie Shell

bottom and top view of a beautiful Hundred Eyed Cowrie Sea shell
This particular type of Cowrie Shell is a firm favourite for keen seashell collectors

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 

Queen Conch Shell multi view on black background
The Queen Conch thrives in the tropical waters of the West Indies, Caribbean, Florida and the Bahamas

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 civilisations found interesting uses for the Queen Conch, such as a horn for religious ceremonies and ornamentation purposes. For centuries, their lustrous pink shells have been fashioned into ocean jewelry such as shell bracelets, necklaces and hair pins.

Miyoko Murex Seashell

Miyoko Murex Seashell on black background
The Miyoko Murex originates from Mactan Island in the Philippines

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

Type of Conus Gloriamaris Seashell on black with side view
The Conus Gloriamaris is the only known shell species to have been stolen from a museum!

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

Venus comb murex shell on black background
This beautiful seashell is named after the Greek goodness Venus, who is said to have used this murex shell to comb her hair

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 shell jewelry and other ocean jewelry collections such as wave rings, anchor bracelets, starfish necklaces, coral earrings and more.

Don’t forget that a portion of every purchase made at Citrus Reef goes towards coral conservation efforts across the globe!

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