Puka shells are available in most of the tropical beaches and coastal zones. But, in Hawaii and Philippines, these shells are found more distinctively. The people of Hawaii, irrespective of their age or gender, love to beautify themselves with Puka shell jewelry. Visitors and tourists make it a point to buy these shells whenever they visit the Hawaiian beaches.
Good Luck Charm
The Puka shells in Hawaii are gifted to wish good luck to the receiver. If a sailor receives a Puka shell, it is believed that the shell will help him reach home safely.
The worn-out cone shells are Puka shells. These shells comprise mollusks. When these mollusks die, the shell knocks about in the ocean and a hole wears in at the center of these shells. When these cone shells lose their tip and the pointed edge is eroded, Puka shells come into existence. These shells are thereby used to make Puka jewelry. These shells are polished by the ocean. The natural hole is used to strung the shells together. The Hawaiian word for ‘hole’ is Puka.
The moment people understood the real meaning of Puka, shell sellers all over the beaches started putting the word ‘Puka’ in different titles. But just because there is a hole in a shell, does not mean that it is a Puka shell.
Apart from the belief that these shells are a good luck charm, they are used extensively in beach-inspired jewelry. These days, as the popularity of these shells has sky-rocketed, these are also used in paperweights, figurines, and rosaries.
Can the Real Puka Please Stand Up!
The Puka necklace in white is the only original piece, whereas the other necklaces displayed are fake Puka necklaces.
- Naturally found Puka shells are not only very expensive, but are also very hard to find. Therefore, in order to mint extra money in the name of ‘real’ Puka, people nowadays sell fake and imitated jewelry.
- Mass producers make use of machines to drill holes into clam shells (which are NOT Puka shells). Clam shells are in abundance at the beaches. These imitated shells are squarish in shape, and manual holes are drilled into them. Clam shells also do not have the spiral finish on the inside, like Puka shells do. The necklaces made out of clam shells fade out and become dull after a period. Necklaces made out of puka retain their original color and texture.
- Sellers who use the words ‘square cut’ or ‘Puka chipped’ in their description should be given a miss because Puka shells are never chipped or cut.
- If you cannot figure out the spiral in the shell, then make sure you ask the seller to point it out to you. If he fails in his attempt, then be sure that it is an imitated product.
- It is a difficult task to find intact shells of Puka on the beach. You might find broken pieces of these shells spread over the beach. But these pieces are not suitable for making jewelry. The manpower and time involved in finding a real one makes it really expensive. The next time a seller offers you a Puka necklace for a cheaper price, you should understand that there is something fishy about the product.
- If you are planning to pick shells yourself at the beach, remember that Puka shells originally possess shades of white or beige only. There are manufacturers who prefer to dye these shells in different colors for better sale and due to the rising demand for such shells.
Is it Heishi or Puka?
- Call it ignorance or deception, but people out there feel that Heishi shells are the same as Puka shells. Heishi shells are those that are smoothed and ground flat with circular edges. A hole is manually punched for the string to fit in. These shells are polished with leather belts and are available in rainbow colors. On the other hand, Puka shells are only available in white and beige shades. You should beware of sellers selling Heishi and clam shells as Puka shells.
Where to Get Puka Shells
- You will get plenty of Puka shells at the beaches of Hawaii and Philippines. Watch out for places on the beach, which are remote and not filled with tourists. The more crowded the beach, the less likely that you might get shells there. There is a huge pile of these shells on white sand beaches. Look out for tiny shells (white or beige-colored). Collect the ones that are not damaged.
- You can also get ready-made stuff online. Sites like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and many more such sites offer Puka shell necklaces.
How to Clean a Puka Shell Necklace
- You can soak the necklace in a bowl of water and bleach. Take 3 parts of water and 1 part of bleach. The water should be enough to submerge the necklace entirely. After 5 to 8 minutes, take out the necklace and brush it off with a toothbrush. All the dirt and mud will be brushed off. Once the necklace is dried with a towel, your task is completed.
- You can also soak the necklace in saltwater for 10 to 15 minutes. Brush the dirt off using a toothbrush, and then wipe it off with a cloth.
- It is important that the cleanser that you will use on the necklace is mild and devoid of heavy chemicals. Please avoid cleansers with an alcohol base.
- You can also use a gentle soap to clean the necklace. But make sure not to use any detergent or abrasive chemicals. This might eat away the texture of the necklace.
So next time, don’t be fooled if you are offered a fake Puka necklace. We are sure that you will also enlighten the ignorant sellers who deceive people in the name of ‘real’ Puka shells. Also, do not leave your necklaces dirty and grungy anymore.