How to String Cowrie Shells

by Samantha Volz ; Updated September 28, 2017

Cowrie shells can make beautiful homemade jewelry.

black cowrie shell 2. image by mdb from

A trip to the seashore often results in fun memories and harsh sunburns, but can also lead to a grand collection of seashells. Among these shells are cowrie shells. Unlike other seashells, which are open on one side and decorated on the other, cowries feature a closed-in shape with a small slit on one side. The shells often feature colorful and vibrant decorations, so they are a prime choice for jewelry. These shells sometimes feature natural holes that make them perfect for stringing onto jewelry cord. You can create beautiful pieces of homemade jewelry that will always remind you of days in the sun and sand.

Measure a strong piece of nylon cord or jewelry string around your neck, wrist or wherever you want to wear the cowrie shell. When you have the appropriate size for your piece, add another 4 inches to allow for tying a knot.

Thread one end of your cord through the front of the hole in your cowrie shell, pushing firmly until the cord appears from the other end. Slide the shell down the cord until it sits at the center.

Tie a simple knot in the cord with the two loose ends. Pull the ends tightly until the knot sits snugly against the top of the shell. This shell forms the central piece of your necklace; it will not move around on the cord thanks to the knot.

Thread each end of the cord through other cowrie shells, beads or other jewelry pieces until you have achieved the desired look of your necklace or bracelet.

Tie the two ends of the cord together in a slipknot to secure your piece of jewelry. The slipknot will allow you to adjust the size of the jewelry if necessary.


  • If your cowrie shell doesn't feature a natural hole, you can insert the cord into the fold and push it into place with a needle. You can also create your own hole for your string using a needle or screwdriver.

    Find cowrie shells in nature along beaches or from jewelry supply retailers or seashell retailers.

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About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.