How to spot FAKE PUKA SHELL Necklaces IMITATION jewelry

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How to spot FAKE PUKA SHELL Necklaces IMITATION jewelry
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Everyone loves the beauty of Puka shells.

In Hawaii, people of all ages adorn themselves with these island jewels of the sea. Men, women and children alike, wear them. They are also one of the most popular necklaces that visitors seek out when they are vacationing on the beautiful islands of Hawaii.

So now that you've heard of all the Puka Shell hype, you've finally decided that you want to have one of these popular shell necklaces yourself. You sit down at your keyboard and eagerly type in, "Puka shell necklace" (or you may have typed poo-ka or puu-kah) only to find that eBay as well as the rest of the internet world is FLOODED with thousands of them. Hmmm.....soo many to chose from. The selection is overwhelming to the UNTRAINED eye. Where do you start? Why don't we start with,

What is a Puka Shell?

Puka shells were once CONE SHELLS (Not clam shells and Not heishi). The cone shell gets rolled around in the Surf(Nalu). After time the pointy part of the shell breaks off and the tip wears away until a hole is formed. This part of the shell is what the ancient Hawaiians used to make their Puka Shell Jewelry.

In Ancient Hawaiian days, there were no drills or machines to help in making jewelry. The reason why Puka shells were traditionally used is because the shell is naturally polished by the ocean and the hole which the necklace is strung by, is also naturally formed.

Please find out for yourself by going to google and type in "What is a Puka Shell" then read Wikipedia's explanation for Puka shells. Or go straight to and type Puka shell in the search box.

What does Puka Mean? 

Puka means "hole" or "opening" in Hawaiian. And upon saying that, that is where all the Modern-day Puka mania began. Once people started realizing that puka meant hole in Hawaiian, Hundreds of sellers started putting the word "Puka" in all kinds of titles and descriptions. Just because a shell has a hole in it doesn't mean you can call it a puka shell. Unfortunetly, due to the mis-use(and probably mis-understanding)of the word "Puka", it can actually be quite an ordeal to locate a True, Traditional Puka Shell Necklace nowadays. It seems like everyone is selling imitations. Which brings me to the next question,

How can you tell the difference between a traditional Puka Shell necklace from a mass-produced imitation?


So many manufacturers today use machines to cut shells and drill holes into them to make shell necklaces. These mass-produced necklaces are usually made with clam shells(NOT Puka shells). Clam shells are common and abundant. The clam shells that are used for necklaces are usually square cut (or chipped) and the holes are drilled into them. That is why many deceptive or innocently ignorant sellers use the words "square cut" or "Puka chip" in their title or description. Puka shells are not cut or chipped. Clam shells ARE cut and chipped. (See the picture on the right) The Clam shells are square cut and DO NOT have the natural spiral on the inside of the shell like ALL Traditional Puka shells do.

The #1 thing to remember is the spiral. If you can't tell just by looking at a sellers pictures just ask them if the shells have a spiral in it. If they say no then move on.


Although "Clam shell" square cut necklaces can still look nice they are not made from, nor do they look like REAL, Actual Puka shells. I've noticed that after wearing a clam shell necklace, overtime the clam shells can get a bit dull and faded but I've never experienced that with my Puka shell jewelry.


Puka shells are not as easy to find as clam shells or other shells that may be used for stringing. You may be able to find tiny, crushed pieces of puka shells all over the beach but finding an intact puka shell for jewelry making, is hard to do.

Therefore, when a seller is claiming a clam shell necklace is a "puka shell" necklace, (just because the clam shell does have a "hole" drilled through it), it can actually be considered as being deceiving because clam shells are inexpensive and easy to find and real puka shells are not.


 Real Puka shells have much more value than clam shells because of how Puka shell holes are naturally formed and polished by the ocean as opposed to the man-cut and drilled clam shells.

What about Heishi?

Now I've been noticing that sellers are trying to make people believe that Heishi are Puka shells also. NOT TRUE. Heishi are not Puka shells. Clam shells are not Puka shells. Say it with me.... HEISHI AND CLAM SHELLS ARE NOT PUKA SHELLS. Sellers that claim that Heishi and clam shells are another "type" of Puka shells are being flat out dishonest. Saying that Clam shells and Heishi are the same as Puka shells is like saying cotton is the same as silk! Clam shell necklaces and Heishi necklaces are inexpensive because they are man-made in a factory with mass-produced materials. TRULY NOT A TRADITIONAL HAWAIIAN PIECE.

Food for thought

Imagine you are on a beach in Hawaii. Unless you are extremely fortunate it would take a VERY long time to find enough intact Puka shells to make an entire necklace AND if it takes a long time just to gather all the shells to make ONE necklace, do you think it would really make sense to sell that necklace for just 99 cents, a couple of measly bucks or give it away as a FREE gift even?? Of course not! So if you come across a seller that is selling "Puka shell" jewelry for a couple of bucks or giving it away as their "best selling" FREE gift, you have to know without a doubt that it is not made from actual Puka shells.

Find out for yourself

Go to Wikipedia(the free on-line encyclopedia) and type in Puka shell. It will give you the true definition of a Puka Shell and how to spot an imitation.

Go to google and type in Heishi. After reading just a few sentences about heishi, you will quickly see that heishi are not Puka shells.

Go to the eBay guides and reviews search and type in Puka Shell. Right now there are 4 guides written about Puka Shells. 2 of the 4 guides give mis-information. The 2 that contain mis-information are written by the same person. Perhaps the person that wrote those guides is just misinformed but when I read them it seems to me like they are trying REALLY HARD to sell their products dishonestly and make people believe that Clam shells and heishi are a different type of Puka Shell which they are not. A Clam shell is a Clam shell not a Puka Shell. Heishi are different types of shells (Not Puka shells) that are smashed together with a machine. Ancient Hawaiians did not have machines or drills therefore they did not make heishi. That seller has nice items but they should be more honest. It's not fair to the consumer that thinks they are getting a Puka shell necklace when they aren't and It's not fair to the sellers out there that are trying to sell real Puka Shell necklaces but they can't compete with the 99 cents Hoop-lah. (haha....I managed to throw hoop-lah in there)

So now that you know the truth...

All the hundreds of people that think they bought a Puka shell necklace off of the internet- Please do me a favor and and go look at it. Examine it.... And now that you realize you have a clam shell necklace or a heishi necklace, do me another favor and go tell the seller that you bought it from about what you just learned. Either that seller is innocently ignorant and will change their titles and descriptions or they are flat-out dishonest and will continue to try to sell the cheap stuff as being Puka shell jewelry and write guides to make people believe them. 

For those of you that are sellers and only now have learned the truth, please stop claiming it's made out of Puka shells if it is not. (I didn't know the truth until a few years ago myself)


Please help put this one to rest.....and help stop the fraud on eBay and the rest of the Web!

ALOHA and Mahalo Nui Loa(Thank you very much!)

Please Check out my other guides for more info and don't forget to vote if you found this guide to be helpful :)

Copyright 2005-2007 Island Gifts Hawaii 

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