How Fashion's Wearing the Whimsical Seashell Jewelry Trend This Time Around

Embrace grown-up versions of the classics, from scallop studs to golden cowrie choker necklaces.

graphic collage of seashell necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, a seashell necklace from Ulla Johnson, and fashion week street style guests wearing shell jewelry
(Image credit: Future)

When you think about the type of woman who wears the seashell jewelry trend effortlessly, a specific archetype likely comes to mind. Her hair is slightly sea-misted, and her shoulders are golden and sun-kissed. She wears a scallop shell choker around her neck, an arm full of bangles (she was wearing them way before they were a trend), and a bohemian straw tote bag that still has traces of sand from her most recent trip to the beach.

But with shell and seaside-inspired jewelry becoming a sweeping summer 2024 accessory trend, its demographic has extended far beyond salt-sprayed beachgoers. Manhattanites and Parisiennes who haven't set sites on the ocean in months are now accessorizing with 14-karat gold scallop studs and seashell anklets for all occasions—from Fashion Month to cocktail hours. Meanwhile, creators of fashion TikTok are showing the masses how to DIY shell necklaces with sand dollars from their local craft store. Their crafty vids amass over five million views and present the trend as accessible beyond the fashion set.

Anna Rosa Vitiello wears yellow blazer, pants, laced top, black bag, gold big chain necklace, golden shell earrings, and black sunglasses outside the Stella McCartney show during Paris Fashion Week - Womenswear Fall Winter 2023 2024 on March 06, 2023 in Paris, France

Content creator Anna Rosa Vitiello wearing supersized scallop earrings during Paris Fashion Week.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ana Escalante, assistant shopping editor at Who What Wear, has been wearing pearlescent conch earrings to the New York City office they share with Marie Claire for months now—when there was still a chill in the air. The fashion editor scooped up her sub-$40 pair on Etsy and, “to date, has influenced at least six friends" to snag matching sets. "I don't remember exactly when I first saw shell and nautilus motifs pop up on my hyper-curated Pinterest algorithm, but naturally, once I saw them, I needed to get them," she tells Marie Claire. "There's something a bit fresh about having a literal shell on your ear."

On the designer front, Juliana Liden, founder and creative director of jewelry brand Julietta has “noticed an uptick in sales and customer interest in [her] seashell jewelry recently.” She makes cockleshell earrings cast in resin, hangs scallops from rhinestone-encrusted bands, and threads silver beads on cords alongside massive mother-of-pearl pendants. Hers are not the throw-away cowrie crafts you made as a kid and nothing like the natural souvenirs you'd find while beachcombing. They have a strong fashion point-of-view.

“This year's take on seashell jewelry feels more elevated and sophisticated because designers are blending traditional motifs with modern aesthetics and high-quality materials,” Liden says. “There is a greater emphasis on craft, detail, and innovation, allowing seashells to be featured in more refined and versatile designs.”

A model wears large Julietta red seashell earrings with a conch shell and red starfish

Julietta's Le Splash earrings, consisting of a metallic conch shell and statement-sized star fish, in bright cherry red.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Julietta)

Scotland-based jewelry designer Grainne Morton is also known for merging the marine motif with luxurious tweaks, as seen in the delicate dangling shell pieces she custom-designed for Ulla Johnson's Spring '20 runway show that took place over four years ago now.

“I continue to fall in love with the natural beauty of shells—their iridescence, shapes, markings, vast range of sizes, and adaptability can easily be paired with other materials that are fundamental in our jewelry designs, like cameo pearls, colorful semiprecious stones, and vintage rhinestones,” says Morton.

A model wearing a seashell necklace and shell earrings in Ulla Johnson Spring 2020 show

A model wearing Grainne Morton's custom shell creations in Ulla Johnson's Spring 2020 show.

(Image credit: Launchmetrics)

Liden attributes the popular wave of seashell-inspired jewelry to—you guessed it—TikTok trends, alongside fads like Mermaidcore and the Coconut Girl Aesthetic and major films like The Little Mermaid and Barbie. But what's more impactful is the nostalgic element at play.

Morton’s use of shells stems from her childhood, where she grew up on the coast of Northern Ireland and spent many summer afternoons on the beach gathering shells in Donegal. Her personal connection bleeds into her work, resulting in pieces that are deeply evocative and take you back to the halcyon days of collecting nautical treasures during childhood beach vacations.

“Seashell jewelry not only offers aesthetic appeal, but [it] carries sentimental value for many people,” Liden notes. “It evokes memories of the ocean, summer vacations, and a sense of calm and wonder. The storytelling aspect—connecting the jewelry to personal experiences and popular culture—adds depth and allure to these shell pieces, making them more appealing to a contemporary audience.”

A New York Fashion Week guest wears an ivory conch shell necklace and a white lace dress

A New York Fashion Week guest wearing an ivory conch shell necklace.

(Image credit: Launchmetrics)

To try the summer 2024 trend as an adult, test-drive it with costume jewelry or invest in a whimsical piece you'll have for the long haul. “The idea of pairing shells with gemstones and precious metals is so brilliant [and] really unexpected,” which is ultimately what convinced Grace Atwood, founder and author of the lifestyle blog The Stripe, to splurge on a scallop and tourmaline Marisa Klass pendant.

A photo of Grace Atwood wearing a red shell pendant necklace, a gold necklace, pearl necklace, crochet tank, and white shorts.

"I styled my Marisa Klass shell pendant with a crochet tank (another key trend for summer), a shorter baroque pearl necklace from J.Crew, and the Sherman-Field chain necklace that I pretty much never take off," Atwood says.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Grace Atwood)

But the Charleston, South Carolina-based blogger points out that the trend doesn't demand a steep investment. “You can go super high-end with something from Marisa Klass, middle of the road with Brinker & Eliza, Jennifer Behr's new collaboration with Julia Berolzheimer, or just dip your toe in the water with even more affordable pieces from J.Crew or BaubleBar,” Atwood explains. "There is something great at every price point.”

The possibilities are as vast as the sea itself.

Shop More of Our Seashell Jewelry Edit

Emma Childs
Fashion Features Editor

Emma is the fashion features editor at Marie Claire, where she writes deep-dive trend reports, zeitgeisty fashion featurettes on what style tastemakers are wearing, long-form profiles on emerging designers and the names to know, and human interest vignette-style round-ups. Previously, she was Marie Claire's style editor, where she wrote shopping e-commerce guides and seasonal trend reports, assisted with the market for fashion photo shoots, and assigned and edited fashion celebrity news.

Emma also wrote for The Zoe Report, Editorialist, Elite Daily, Bustle, and Mission Magazine. She studied Fashion Studies and New Media at Fordham University Lincoln Center and launched her own magazine, Childs Play Magazine, in 2015 as a creative pastime. When she's not waxing poetic about niche fashion topics, you'll find her stalking eBay for designer vintage, reading literary fiction on her Kindle, and baking banana bread in her tiny NYC kitchen.