Cowrie shells on Sanda Stour, Shetland.

Cowrie shells on Sanda Stour, Shetland.

The hunt for the Groatie Buckie shells continue - I have collected them from around the Shetland islands since I was 5 years old and still love them.

Many new collectors have emerged since lock down 2020 judging from numerous local social media posts, not disclosing secret locations. I reckon it is much more difficult to find the elusive shells in the traditional spots than ever before probably due to their increased popularity! I also suspect rising sea levels churning up areas of beach that it couldnt reach before have had an impact. Observing one of my favourite spots, the sea has now eaten away at the edge of hillside until the fence has fallen in.

I love to treasure my favourite shells and use them in my jewellery mako adore. The Cowrie shell is said to bring luck and prosperity to the finder - great things to share! I offer a choice of 1, 2 or 3 shells in my pendants. Interestingly there are 2 species of Cowrie she, one with black spots on its back (European Cowrie) and the other without spots (Northern Cowrie) I have found equal amounts of both species around the Islands.

To be able to find enough shells to keep my jewellery making going it is now necessary to visit uninhabited islands by small boat! Fortunately we have a suitable small boat and have recently been to visit the small island of Sanda Stour. A perfect little island (1mile x 1.5 mile) with a spectacular gully, nesting birds, friendly seals and stunning wild flowers in the summertime. I collected some small shells but also left plenty, very aware not to negatively impact the shoreline eco system! What a special place.

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