6 Rare and Beautiful Types of Shells

Beautiful and Different Types of shell on Beach
Beautiful types of shells come in many different shapes and sizes.

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.

Shell jewelry has an incredibly ancient history, 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.

Here's 6 of the most rare and beautiful.

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 shell collectors and make exquisite pieces of jewelry, like our beautiful statement Nautilus Shell Necklace.

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 civilizations 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, shell earrings 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!

Cowrie Shell Hoop Earrings Montage
Cowrie Shell Hoop Earrings made with 7 ethically sourced cowrie shells. $15, Shop 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!


Can an expert please identify the tiny shells that are ubiquitous. I have many that I just can not figure out their heritage. I’ve looked all over and no one can help me. These shells are very tiny. I sat in a shell pile in 1979 on Sanibel Island and anything that was not broken or inhibited, I took back to Long Island.

Deborah M DeRosa November 28, 2022

Shells are nature’s jewels but they are not infinite, be kind and leave creatures that call shells their home in the water.

Deborah M DeRosa November 28, 2022

I absolutely love collecting seashells. I have most of the seashells that is on this list except for the Conus Gloriamaris .

Marybeth Clarke November 23, 2022

My aunt just gave me 2 Beautiful authentic queen conch shells I love shells I didn’t know they were so popular

Simone dixon November 03, 2022

From one of the islands close to Guam, I had a seashell that you could see through and it had a bright red star in its core center. Anyone ever seen something similar to this ?

Vince Gorman November 03, 2022

I was surprised when I saw a picture of the Hundred-Eyed Cowrie Shell as me and my mom had somehow collected it once.

Tashee September 05, 2022

Wow! I can’t believe there are so many unique seashells in the world! I actually love picking seashells and like to polish and paint them. Sad thing that the beaches here in Singapore don’t have many colourful and rare seashells. I actually found a Nautilus Seashell (not in Singapore) without even knowing it was precious!

Phoebe Ong August 23, 2022

Wow! I can’t believe there are so many unique seashells in the world! I actually love picking seashells and like to polish and paint them. Sad thing that the beaches here in Singapore don’t have many colourful and rare seashells. I actually found a Nautilus Seashell (not in Singapore) without even knowing it was precious!

Phoebe Ong August 15, 2022

I love collecting shells I have all others except the venus comb merux shell and the queen couch shell. I love shells. Thank you for this lovely article.

S.M.Chathushi Oshadie Karunarathna August 03, 2022

I have the Nautilus. I received it as a gift from a very real friend. It’s quite large. Very beautiful

Mary Gauss May 30, 2022

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 .

Avana May 13, 2022

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!!!

Steph Ro March 22, 2022

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