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Shell Pearls at Lima Beads

Posted by Kevin on November 23 at 12:51 pm

Shell pearls are an alternative to cultured and glass pearls. They look and feel more genuine than glass pearls and offer the consistency of size and color that can be difficult to achieve with cultured pearls. Shell pearls exhibit the weight and feel of a natural South Sea pearl. They’re available in an array of beautiful colors.

Shell Pearls

Shell Pearl BucketsHow they’re made

The production process for shell pearls is similar to the process that crystal companies use to make glass pearls. The major difference is that glass pearls have glass in the center and shell pearls have a solid carving of real seashell at their core. Stone cutters cut and polish pieces of this giant shell until they More Shell Pearlshave a perfect shape (10mm round for example). Once the piece of shell is finished, they’re ready to coat it. The coating, which is made in the USA, contains genuine mother of pearl that has been ground into a fine powder. This mother of pearl content is what gives shell pearls their deep luster. The coating process is what differentiates some shell pearls. All Lima Beads shell pearls have a thick multi-layer coating that ensures durability and high luster.

Great things about shell pearls

Shell Pearl Core

The core of a shell pearl

Genuine look and feel: Because they have a real seashell at their core, shell pearls look & feel more genuine than glass pearls.

Resilience: Shell pearls are more resistant to sweat, perfume, and other contaminants that commonly affect cultured pearls.

Availability: The controlled manufacturing process ensures that we can continuously restock items in the same shapes and colors.

Shop our Shell Pearls >


Read the comments (or add your own)

  1. LArc Enciel
    LArc Enciel says:

    Wow. Very interesting and informative.

  2. No Photo
    K G- nyc says:

    Wow – never knew How that was done! Thanks for the info.

  3. g Fenton
    g Fenton says:

    This is something i will definitely have to try! Thanks! Coolbeeads.com

  4. No Photo
    Atomic Toad says:

    Love the 14mm shell pearls I purchased from you. Now I know why!

  5. Lynn Eileen Chicky LE
    Lynn Eileen Chicky LE says:

    What fantastic colors! Thanks for giving us another reason to choose LB as our “one-stop shopping” site!!! 8) Thanks, too, for the explanation, Kevin — very interesting to learn the details of how shell pearls are made. :D

  6. birdie
    birdie says:

    Received my shell pearl order and they are beauties, very pleased.

  7. Lynn Eileen Chicky LE
    Lynn Eileen Chicky LE says:

    My shell pearls arrived on Thursday and they are gorgeous!!! The colors are amazing, with even more depth than can be shown in the photos here. I will definitely buy more. Please restock the navy ones soon — they went out of stock before I could order some! :D 8)

  8. Karokat
    Karokat says:

    I love the shell pearls I’ve ordered from you – and the 14mm Platinum ones I got as a free gift! They’re all beautiful!

  9. S Whidden-Tattrie
    S Whidden-Tattrie says:

    Finding you was my sunshiny day !!

  10. birdie
    birdie says:

    Thank you, thank you,you did a restock on the Shell Pearls…just sent in an order now. Hopefully you will have more colours in soon?

  11. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    We just received a huge shipment. In the coming weeks, we’ll have all sizes in all of our colors and 6 brand new colors :)

  12. Lynn Eileen Chicky LE
    Lynn Eileen Chicky LE says:

    Hooray for the update, Kevin! The shell pearls are just incredible — the photos don’t do them justice, but I know they are hard to photograph. Love the colors already available, so I know we’ll all be thrilled to get new colors and sizes! Many thanks from those of us who are squirrelly for pearls! :D

  13. No Photo
    Sweet Caroline says:

    Being a huge fan of pearls and shells alike, the combination is intriguing. They sound like the luscious pearly luster is not compromised. Question, though. Obviously dye is used. Is the dye permanent? How easily would it transfer to skin and/or clothing? Thank you.

  14. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Thanks for your question Sweet Caroline. Shell pearls are not dyed in the traditional sense. They’re not manufactured and then dyed. The color you see is actually built into the outer coating. It is very stable and will not come off. I hope this helps. Thanks again!

  15. No Photo
    Simone M says:

    Wow, I had never heard of shell pearls until I read this article. Thank you for this information. I will definitely consider buying these in the future.

  16. No Photo
    Norma C says:

    These look amazing. One question: can they be cleaned using mild soapy water? It seems as though they can, as the color is permanent. But, will it damage the surface?
    Thanks for the informative article!

  17. Kitty
    Kitty says:

    The new pearls look gorgeous, but I noticed 10mm is not available in any of the colors shown. Are they on back order or just not available.

  18. No Photo
    loubell says:

    What hole size do the shell pearls have?

  19. Nancy Mc
    Nancy Mc says:

    Loubell..I can’t meaure the holes properly,but can tell you that 22 gauge wire fits with room left over. I estimate that it would take up to 20 gauge?

  20. No Photo
    Revsma says:

    I wish the above questions were answered so I’d know more about your new product.
    My question is, do these have to be individually knotted? Which is better, string or wire? I’ve recently started making jewelry & for the first time in my life, fell in love with pearls. I’ve read all makes of pearls, ‘real’ or not need to be tied. Please advise.
    I’m new here, great site, products and prices!

  21. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Hi Everyone! To answer a few of the questions above:

    Yes, they can be cleaned with warm soapy water. We tested this to make sure and it worked very well.

    10mm is available, we just didn’t start with that particular size. We will have it in the future as we grow the line.

    Thanks Nancy for answering the hole size question! You’re correct, 20 gauge is safe.

    Elisabeth – knotting is a good idea because it prevents the pearls from rubbing on each other and also prevents them from all falling off the strand should it break :) I don’t think it is absolutely required, but would probably help to keep your pearls beautiful for a longer time.

    I hope this helps!

  22. No Photo
    L Lawson says:

    They’re so sweet!

  23. driftingonmymind
    driftingonmymind says:

    The color combo’s were terrific. I picked up one of the winter mix, but later on when I saw the baby blue and brown mix…well I was sold. Now ordering more just in case my project runs short. Thank you for something a bit unexpected and so lovely Randi

  24. Cat Bird Birdsong
    Cat Bird Birdsong says:

    I just got my first order of shell pearls. OMG!! They are so beautiful and substantial I just had to order more. Of course, I did that before I posted this. :)
    The berries mix picture does not do it justice. They are so much better in person. Now that I have all that I want go ahead and see for yourself. :)

  25. ScarletBegonias
    ScarletBegonias says:

    For some reason I have gone wacky for bracelets lately!
    Will these hold up to bracelet wear for special occasions (not everyday)?
    I made a fwp bracelet and so far everything is A-OK. Just thought I’d see if anyone else has tried this?
    Can’t wait to make a necklace!
    OH and BTW, I have used shell ‘beads’ and my only complaint there is the color is inconsistent.

  26. ScarletBegonias
    ScarletBegonias says:

    Thanks Kevin for bringing us such great products no one else carries!

  27. No Photo
    Gail G says:

    Are these shells harvested sustainably? I’d hate to contribute to the extinction of the host.

  28. No Photo
    D MCCALL says:

    I just made necklaces, earring and bracelets with these for a friend’s wedding. They were beautiful. What colors are in the winter mix?

  29. Kate
    Kate says:

    D MCCALL: the winter mix was made specially and we don’t carry the individual colors in separate strands :( …yet!

  30. No Photo
    GloryBeads says:

    I love knowing about the gemstone, pearls and metals I use in my pieces. It is helpful to have this info for customers. Thanx!

  31. No Photo
    SilverCords aka Judy says:

    For anyone designing pearl jewelry, shell pearls are an awesome alternative because they look nicer that glass and are more affordable than cultured. (I’m a pearl snob!) Lima Beads offers a great array of colors, mixes, shapes and sizes not easily found elsewhere.

  32. No Photo
    R Kelley says:

    Kevin would these string thru 2mm leather cording for necklaces and bracelets? I love making freshwater jewelry and would love to use these! They are beautiful but leather is all I use!

  33. No Photo
    tstrick says:


  34. No Photo
    Lora F says:

    You state “Availability: The controlled manufacturing process ensures that we can continuously restock items in the same shapes and colors.”, yet, I see only one size, 14mm is available in most colors, and only 4mm & 6mm in the rest. Why aren’t all sizes available in all colors?

  35. tomasina
    tomasina says:

    Haven’t seen any shell pearls since I started shopping here in 2017, and I’ve been here almost every day since then! Same for many “artists” and other categories. Since you’ve recently redone most of your website, why are they all still listed? Curious!

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