About Kauai Sunrise Shells
Kauai Sunrise Shells aka "Langford Pectens" speak directly to the heart of those who know and understand the beauty and spirit of Hawaii.
Hawaiian Sunrise Shells are found in remote locations in deep waters off the coast of the garden island of Kauai. While they are found in all of the Hawaiian islands including Maui and Oahu, the Sunrise Shells found on Kauai are thought to be of the best quality and greatest variety of color. The exact dive locations vary during the year and are closely held secrets. Depending on weather and ocean conditions, the shells may or may not be present. On a good day a diver might find up to a coffee cup full of shells, most of which will be covered in sediment and often calcified residue.
The Cleaning Process
The shells are cleaned individually by hand in a tedious multi step process.
- They are first soaked in a “secret sauce” cleaning solution and rinsed thoroughly in clean water.
The shell is then scrubbed by hand with a stiff wire brush to remove calcification/sediment build-up existing in the grooves/channels of each shell.
- The shell is then gone over with a fine “dental pic” and each groove, nook and cranny that continues to hide dirt, calcium or other residue is carefully pic’d over.
- When the shell is as clean as is humanly possible, the shell is rinsed and dried thoroughly with a hair dryer.
- A small amount of all-natural mineral oil is then applied and scrubbed deep into the pores of both sides of the shell.
And “voila” – A gorgeous Hawaiian Sunrise Shell has emerged!
The two sides of a natural pair are never identical and often are completely different in color. Above is a natural pair composed of one side that is a rare red and white striped "bumpy side" and its opposite half is a classic colored yellow "smooth side". Tiger stripes on both halves are clearly visible and wings are intact and symmetrical.
The quality and value of each Hawaiian Sunrise Shell is determined by various factors:
Is the shell free of holes, cracks and blemishes? Is the shape symmetrical?
Are the two “wings” intact and balanced?
Are the base “tiger stripes” distinct and visible on both sides?
Is it a “bumpy side” or a “smooth side” shell? In its natural state, every shell pair consists of a bumpy side (or knuckles) and a smooth side. The bumpy side is always facing up and the smooth side always faces down.
Size: Large shells in good condition are rare, while earring and small pendant sized shells are increasingly popular.
Color: Some favor “classic sunrise colors” – orange, yellow, pink and white, while others seek out the hard to find reds and blues, the rare white albino or the green "moonrise" coloration.
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