Every pair of handcrafted capiz shell earrings begins at the bottom of the sea surrounding the Philippine Islands.
Named for its abundance in the province of Capiz, the capiz shell is the lining of a marine mollusk.
Before glass was available in the Philippines, this shell was used to create windows because of its translucent qualities, earning the mollusk its nickname, “windowpane oyster.”
Local divers collect these mollusks around the coastal regions during the summertime when the water is clear. Picking each mollusk by hand, they gather them in bamboo baskets before loading them into small fishing boats.
Handcrafted by Artisans
Once the mollusks reach the shore, local women gather them for shucking, cleaning, drying, sizing, counting, and then selling to local Artisans. The sale of capiz shells to Artisans provides sustainable income for many families in coastal villages throughout the Philippine Islands.
Artisans like Retchel craft these capiz shells into jewelry and home décor.
They begin by cutting the capiz into custom shapes, either by hand or using a special tool to punch large quantities of consistent sizes.
Each shell is then carefully cleaned and rinsed, once again, to ensure sterilization and enhance the natural color and the appearance of “frosted glass”.
Once dry, the cut shells are bound into metal frames.
Artisans then solder the pieces together by hand to create each design and electroplate the metal parts to prevent tarnishing.
Each shell is then carefully cleaned and rinsed, once again, to ensure sterilization and enhance the natural color and the appearance of “frosted glass.”
The shells are dried on large wire racks before Artisans solder them into wire frames to create each piece of jewelry.
Retchel’s Story of Hope
For Retchel, capiz earrings are more than a source of creative expression or unique fashion accessory. They are a source of lifechanging hope for her entire family.
Her work as a fair-trade Artisan has relieved many of their family’s financial pressures and even allowed them to begin saving toward their dream of starting a business.
“For years, my husband traveled six days a week to provide for our basic needs.” – Retchel
Retchel is hopeful that – because of the income she’s earning as a capiz shell Artisan – soon her husband won’t have to leave them anymore.
When you purchase our natural capiz shell earrings from the Philippines, you’re partnering with Retchel and other Artisans in her community.
You’re investing in creating jobs that provide sustainable income with access to healthcare and education.
You’re investing in keeping these families together and helping them create better futures.
“My work is a big help to us. Now, I can buy toys, school supplies, snacks, and even send money to my mother. I can do housework and be with our children.”
– Retchel, Artisan in the Philippines
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Do they ever dye the shells to get the green appearing shells?
Great question! We added a “How It’s Made” video just for you! Enjoy!