Our Culture is Love
Antique Operculum Shell Pendant
What is an operculum shell?
The operculum is located across the opening of a snail shell, so that when the snail retracts its body inside, this “trapdoor” closes as a protective barrier against predators or to avoid drying out in times of heat and drought. While the snail is alive the operculum is a flexible membrane, but afterwards it hardens and becomes just like a typical calcareous “seashell.” The appearance of opercula can vary (flattish, rounded, etc) depending on the species of snail but the type used in jewelry is shaped like a cabochon: a rounded colorful top and a flat reverse showing a delicate brown spiral pattern on creamy white. Because of their eye-like appearance these are sometimes called “cat’s eye”, “evil eye” or “Shiva’s eye”.
This operculum shell pendant is from the 1890s-1900. The frame around the shell is beautiful gothic design in sterling silver. The chain is not original to the pendant.
Measures 18” in length; the pendant is 1.25” long.