How to Make a Hawaiian Kahelelani Shell Necklace
The value of Kahelelani shells always surprises people who see them for the first time. One necklace, or lei, can range from $500 to $5,000. The most expert jewelers sell their Kahelelani leis for over $10,000. These shells are tiny and can be found only at specific beaches of the Hawaiian Islands. It takes patience and dedication to make a living off of these shells, and many people quit before they can finish one necklace. Nevertheless, it can most certainly be done. It is possible to make your own elegant Kahelelani necklace with these simple steps.
You will need:
- One day at the beach to collect hundreds of Kahelelani shells. If you can't get to the beaches in Hawaii, there are people who sell jars of these shells on ebay or on specific websites.
- 10 to 20 lb hemp or green fishing line to string the shells together.
- 1 needle or pin to poke holes into the shells.
- 1 puka shell or clam shell for the clasp, or a store-bought clasp.
1. To get started, once you collect the shells or buy them online, you will want to sort them out by size or color. If you don't use shells of the same size, the shells won't stay together as they are supposed to. It might be helpful to sort them into different jars or bowls. If they are wet, let them dry out in the open air. Also, make sure that you don't use shells that already have holes in them.
2. Once the shells have been sorted out, use the needle to poke holes in the shells. Professionals use drills specifically made for small jewelry, but many of us do not own such equipment. A needle works well, as long as you are careful not to poke yourself. The holes must go through the natural opening of the shell and through the surface, just 2 or 3 mm away from the edge of the shell. You will need to poke the holes two or three times because one poke with a needle will be too small for the hemp or fishing line.
3. After the holes have been made, it is time to string the shells onto the hemp or fishing line. This can be a difficult task if you are using hemp, because it unravels easily. You will need to constantly wet the tip of the thread to pull it through the holes. It is up to you what pattern you would like to create, but with these shells there is a simple pattern that works well. Thread the shells so that the open edges are always hidden. First thread one shell with the circular shape facing left, then thread another with the circular shape facing right. Repeat in this manner to create an overlapping braided effect.
4. After you have used all the shells you desire, it is time to create a clasp. You can make this on your own using a puka or clam shell, or you can buy one at the store. If you are using a shell, tie a loop at one end of the necklace that just fits over the puka or clam shell. For the other end of the necklace, poke or drill a hole through the shell. Then thread the shell onto the end of the necklace and tie a big knot that keeps it in place. For extra security you can use super glue to keep the knot on the shell. The knot should be hidden under the conic structure of the shell.
5. Test the clasp to make sure it is secure. Then you have a beautiful Kahelelani Necklace!