Let's Talk About The Hawaiian Opihi Shell

Rise Jewelry's Signature Opihi Shell Necklace

For anyone that knows me or has been following this company since the beginning, it's no secret that the Hawaiian opihi shell is one of my favorites to find and create jewelry with. Let's get to know this adorable shell a little better shall we?

Opihi shells are a type of limpet. They come from a species of sea snail. Limpets are marine gastropods that have a conical shell and the Hawaiian ones typically have a 'spider-like' appearance.

Hawaiian opihis are endemic to Hawaii, and are found exclusively within the Hawaiian Islands. They are a highly prized Hawaiian cuisine and many consider opihi a delicacy here. (I've heard Roy's makes a really delicious opihi dish but I've personally never tried it- I'd probably feel too bad to eat one, and would embarrass my family by asking the chef if I can take home all of the shells from their dinner service).

Since opihi is a source of food on the island, there are opihi pickers who harvest these shells for consumption. Harvesting opihi shells are known to be pretty challenging due to their location and the waves along the Hawaiian coastline. Opihis live along the rocky shorelines and are known to be found in more dangerous spots that are harder to reach. You can however find a ton of empy opihi shells just in the ocean and on the shorelines.

There are several species of opihi found in Hawaii, including the blackfoot opihi (Cellana exarata) and the yellowfoot opihi (Cellana sandwicensis). Each species has slightly different characteristics and I personally love ALL types of opihis here - I don't discriminate!

Opihi are known for their strong adhesive properties. They use a muscular foot to cling tightly to rocks, even in the face of strong waves and currents. This adhesive ability helps them withstand the constant motion of the ocean.

Unique shell patterns: Opihi shells exhibit a variety of colors and patterns, ranging from black and brown to yellow and green. The shell's surface can be smooth or textured, with patterns such as stripes, spots, or mottling.

Symbolic significance: In Hawaiian culture, opihi shells hold symbolic significance. They are often used in jewelry and crafts, representing strength, resilience, and the connection to the ocean. Locals sometimes also refer to their children as opihi, given that children cling to their mothers for safety and security, similar to how the opihi clings to the rocks along our coastlines.

Due to overharvesting and habitat degradation, opihi populations in Hawaii have declined in recent years. As a result, there are efforts to protect and manage the opihi resources to ensure their sustainability, and we ask that you only take opihis that are unoccupied. Please help protect and respect our sea life and oceans by not taking live shells. 

All opihis and shells that are used in our jewelry are found unoccupied. We never use any seashell that is home to any creatures, and ask that you help in doing the same.