Fair Trade Jewelry and Ethical Fashion

Why Is Everyone So in Love With Capiz?

by | Artisans, Materials

Natural-Capiz-Shell 3

Read Time: 2 min.

What exactly is capiz anyway?

Natural capiz shell is an eco-friendly, abundant, and sustainable resource found in the Pacific Ocean near the equator. Capiz shell is abundant throughout the Philippine Islands.

Throughout the Philippines, a country of over 7,000 tropical islands, many families struggle financially due to isolation with limited resources and job opportunities. For centuries, local families have depended upon their surrounding natural resources to overcome the challenges of island living.

Eco-Friendly, Sustainable, Natural Resource

Native marine mollusks have been a dependable and rapidly renewable source of vital nutrition and income for many island families for generations. The mollusk’s shell lining, known as capiz, has also been a foundational part of Filipino art and culture.

What makes capiz designs special?

Capiz Box - Blossoming Hope Gift Set
Capiz Nativity Ornament from the Philippines

These capiz designs are created by local fair-trade workshops in the Philippines that provide safe jobs with fair wages for women. Every purchase provides income to a woman in an area of extreme poverty.

How does natural capiz shell become wearable art & home décor?

These elegant handcrafted capiz shell designs begin 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 native mollusks during the summertime when the surrounding coastal waters are clear.

On shore, local women shuck the mollusks for food, before cleaning, drying, sizing, counting, and selling the capiz shell lining to local Artisans.

The sale of capiz is often the only source of income for many island families.

Picking each mollusk by hand, they gather them into bamboo baskets before loading them into small fishing boats.

Capiz Shell Artisan in The Philippines Cutting Capiz by Hand

Artisans Transform Capiz into Jewelry, Art, & Home Décor

They begin by cutting every capiz shell by hand – making each individual ornament special and unique to the Artisan who made it. The capiz shells are baked, soaked in peroxide to enhance the natural pearlized color, and then dried before a protective finish is applied.

From start to finish, these handcrafted natural capiz designs are a labor of love that create opportunities for families in the Philippines to thrive!

Support these Artisans by shopping their eco-friendly capiz designs from the Philippines.

Check out all of these amazing designs made by this Artisan community in the Philippines!


Moonlight Earrings from the Philippines
Wooden Capiz Earrings

What would you like to see these Artisans make next?


More Philippines Blogs

Click on each photo below to discover more about our Artisan partners and products in THE PHILIPPINES.

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Kathy Thomas

Kathy Thomas

Kathy Thomas is an inspirational writer with a passion for helping women discover and celebrate their unique gifts and abilities. Kathy is part of the Communications Team at Trades of Hope focusing on Artisan advocacy.