Spiny Oyster Gemstone Information
With jewelers as secretive as the sea, it is easy to mistake some gemstones in Native American jewelry for coral or some unique strand of desert stone. In actuality the vibrant reds, oranges and purples you oftentimes see are the shell of a very strange creature that is found at the bottom of the ocean - the spiny oyster.
Scientifically called Spondylus, spiny oysters are members of a super-family that includes scallops. While they are not, in fact, true oysters, they do hold a lot of the oysters characteristics, such as their ability to adhere themselves to rocks in a cement-like fashion. Spiny oysters also have the same physical attributes as oysters, with two-part shells that are hinged together with a ball and socket design; their singular characteristic is their sharp, pointy outer shells, covered in spikes. To the common man, these incredible creatures are known as thorny oysters, or more commonly, spiny oysters. They are found primarily in the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez, off the coast of Baja California.
While there are some rarer colors to be found, the mainstays are reds, oranges and purples; these are the natural colors of the shells and are not enhanced by jewelers in any way. Spiny oysters develop these vibrant colors because of their differing diets; seaweed and various forms of plankton produce strikingly different colors when eaten! Generally, the more vibrant the hue, the more valuable the piece of shell, or jewelry in our case. Only the inside edge of the shell develops this deep color, while the rest remains white, making it even harder to create larger spiny oyster jewelry pieces.
Spiny Oyster Symbolism
Because of the spiny oyster's watery home, mystics believe their gemstone powers mimic the ocean, with cool comfort and peace from the dark depths of the sea; a spiny oyster is also believed to bring a sense of understanding, patience, and knowing from the rhythm of the tides to their wearers.