Why Is Everyone So in Love With These Capiz Ornaments?

by | Artisans

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.

Eco-Friendly, Sustainable, Natural Resource

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.

What makes these capiz ornaments special?

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.

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 ornaments 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.

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

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.

Artisans Transform Capiz Into Jewelry & Art

Artisans like Emelyn transform these shells into wearable art and home décor.

Want to see how Emelyn and other Artisans in the Philippines make these natural capiz shell Aura Earrings?


A Labor of Love

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!
Our Artisan partners’ beautiful capiz holiday ornaments are currently out of season and unavailable at this time. But you can still support them by shopping their other capiz designs from the Philippines.

Check out all of these amazing designs made by Emelyn and her Artisan community in the Philippines!

Trades of Hope is partnering with Artisans in areas of extreme poverty in the Philippines to empower women to keep their families together.
Every purchase of Trades of Hope designs from the Philippines provides safe jobs with living wages that empower women to help keep their families together.

What would you like to see these Artisans make next?

Share this story!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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.


1. similar in kind; related
2. a blog by Trades of Hope

Trades of Hope is an ethical fashion and lifestyle brand that helps women around the world escape poverty and trafficking through our fair trade designs. Learn how you can partner with Artisans around the world here.