Marta Howell Jewelry
Enjoy the Beauty of the Oceans
Sterling, Shell and Gemstone Jewelry
By Marta Howell
(Scroll to end for Bio)
Of Kailua, Hawaii
We selected some beautiful
Pendants and Earrings
All jewelry is shell, real gemstone and Sterling
Hallmarked by the artist
Shell is either Black Lip Oyster or Abalone/Paua
Marta Howell Sterling, Black Lip Oyster Shell and Gemstone Pendant
This beautiful pendant measures 1 inch long (not including the bail) by 3/4 inch wide.
The bail is large enough for a cord, necklace or ribbon. Very nice shell enhanced by dark black, green and glints of pink. (necklace not included). Notice that on the back it is marked Marta Howell 925 (sterling).
Nice heavy sterling. Pendant comes in special Marta Howell gift bag.
This beautiful pendant measures 1 and 1/4 inch long (not including the bail) by 1 inch wide. The bail is large enough for a cord, necklace or ribbon. Very nice shell enhanced by blue, green and glints of purple. (necklace not included). Notice that on the back it is marked Marta Howell 925 (sterling). Nice heavy sterling. Pendant comes in special Marta Howell gift bag.
Marta Howell Sterling, Abalone (Paua) Shell and Gemstone Pendant
This beautiful pendant measures 1 inch long (not including the bail) by 3/4 inch wide. The bail is large enough for a cord, necklace or ribbon. Very nice shell enhanced by blue, green and glints of purple. (necklace not included). Notice that on the back it is marked Marta Howell 925 (sterling). Nice heavy sterling. Pendant comes in special Marta Howell gift bag.
Marta Howell Sterling, Black Lipped Oyster Shell and Gemstone Pendant
This beautiful pendant measures 3/4 inch long (not including the bail) by 1 inch wide. The bail is large enough for a cord, necklace or ribbon. Very nice shell enhanced by dark black, green and glints of pink. (necklace not included). Notice that on the back it is marked Marta Howell 925 (sterling). Nice heavy sterling. Pendant comes in special Marta Howell gift bag.
Black Lip Oyster Pendant
With Citrine Chips and Pearls
Marta Howell Sterling, Black Lipped Oyster Shell, pearl and Citrine chip Pendant
This would look stunning with a black top! This exquisite pendant measures 3 and 1/2 to 4 inches long. The clip for a cord, necklace or ribbon is on the back. It's fairly wide. Very nice shell with enhanced by some gold and glints of green. (necklace not included).
Notice that on the back it is marked Marta Howell 925 (sterling). Weight on my scales is 22.5 grams.
This is a very showy piece. Pendant comes in special Marta Howell gift bag.
Measure 3/4 inch long without the hooks and 1/2 inch wide.
Marta Howell Sterling, Black Lip Oyster Shell, and Gemstone
About Marta Howell
Marta Howell of Kailua has a master's degree in philosophy from the University Jagielonski in Krakow, Poland. She has taught languages, and has managed a beauty salon/spa and fashion business in Poland and an apparel company in Thailand.
Then this woman of considerable energy found herself living in the tiny seaside village of Kohtao, Thailand — population 900 — with no electricity, no car, no shopping malls and no television. Her husband, David, who was raised in Kailua, was in the ocean all day with his own diving company. So to pass the time productively, she started wandering the beaches, collecting shells. Soon she had quite a stash — "about 200 pounds."
She sat and polished them by hand, seeing that "Taking layers from the shells was like finding a new world within the shell." She began making little jewelry gifts for friends. After moving to another Thai island, Kohsomui, she sold her designs to tourists. When she and David decided to move to Hawai'i, she couldn't leave the shells behind. So she shipped them — "all of them," she says.
This gave her the raw materials for a new business. During the past three years, from her Kailua home-based studio, Howell has designed an extensive collection of bracelets, necklaces, pendants and earrings. Her work is contemporary and bold, not for the timid. She has an adjunct studio in Thailand, where others manufacture the pieces to her specifications, to enable her to complete more pieces and focus on design rather than craftsmanship.
She begins with mother-of-pearl, sometimes combining it with corals and semi-precious stones such as tourmaline, amethyst, citrine and garnet, as the muses move her. David taught her silversmithing, and she uses silver to bind the pieces together. The effect is often of a silver frame around the shells and stones.
The shapes of the shells guide her, she said: "I see art in every piece of shell. It's a never-ending adventure."
Word has traveled around the world about Howell's jewelry. She now has contacts who provide her with shells from places as far-flung as Britain, Indonesia, Norway, Denmark, Australia and the South Seas. She often trades finished pieces for the shells.
Howell said the temperature of the ocean, age of the mollusk and algae and seaweed they eat help determine the colors the shells take on. Those from Sumatra have a golden hue; from Norway, blue-pink; and New Zealand's are green-blue. Howell said one of the properties she likes best about working with mother-of-pearl is that there is a shade that works with every skin color.
Shells Used by Marta Howell
Black Lip Oyster – Pteria Penguin
Pteria is a genus of winged oyster closely related to Pinctata that also produces commercial quantities of pearls.
Winged oysters are edible but unpalatable, and seldom produce precious pearls. It is a tropical species, with pearly interiors and long, wing-like projections of the hinge, have fragile shells. Winged oysters are found naturally on rocks and coral near channels and capes where the current runs fast and they attach themselves to the ocean bottom and to wharf pilings.
Ptaria Penguin is a major source of Mabe Pearl production. Mabe pearls have a characteristic semispherical shape and unique rainbow-like luster and are a cultured half pearl, formed by inserting a half-sphere between the mantle and the shell. Since Mabe pearl oysters do not clump and their population is small, it is difficult to obtain a lot of mother oysters. Pearl culturing using natural oysters was conducted on a small scale.
They first established artificial breeding techniques for the Mabe pearl oysters were established in 1970.
The Mabe pearl oyster, Pteria Penguin that grows up to 20-30 cm in diameter is also called “the penguin wing oyster” from its shape like a wing. They commonly display a silver color under the oyster muscle with a rich mauve, gold banding towards the black/brown outer-lip. All semispherical “half-pearls” used to be called “Mabe”, however, only pearls come from the Pteria penguin are called “Mabe pearls” now.
The Mabe oyster produces a brilliant nacre with a rainbow-like spectrum of hues, and the Mabe pearls produced from this nacre, which sizes are 12-20mm in diameter, possess a uniquely penetrating brilliance, with hues ranging from light pink through deep rose-red to a "rainbow" pink. Sometimes the pearls have gold-pink or other hues of high rarity. This rich variety of lustrous hues combines with nacreous layers of a rarely seen fineness of texture to give the Mabe pearl its perennial appeal and make it our original, popular product.
Habitat: It can be found from the Red Sea in the east to the western tropical Pacific and from the southern islands of Japan in the north to the southern waters of Australia. Mabe pearl producing countries are Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.
Paua Abalone – Haliotis Iris
Paua Abalone are cultured today for both pearls and mother-of-pearl but is largely a by-product of the seafood industry. Paua abalone is also known as Rainbow Abalone.
It is most commonly found along the shores of New Zealand and in rare occasions, as far north as the Philippines.
The outside of the shell is rough and dull; and attracts various species of seaweed and tube-building worms, which accumulate on the outside of the shell. The inside is a beautiful blend of colors. The animal that lives inside this shell is black and it is the foot of the animal that is edible and marketed in many countries.
The word Paua is actually Maori (a tribe in New Zealand) for Abalone.
Abalone shells belong to the family Haliotidae and are nicknamed sea ears for their oval shape.
Because of the beauty of this shell and its relative thinness, paua shell tends to be more expensive. Paua can be differentiated from other abalone species by its bright, deep, irridesint colors that are most desirable in dark blues and purples and greens. Violets and yellows are considered less desirable.
The shell is most commonly used in jewelry as well as inlays in such items as furniture and guitars.
Gold Lip Oyster – Pinctada Maxima
Sometimes called White or Silver Lipped Oyster Pinctada is a genus of pearl oysters.
These are saltwater clams, marine bivalve mollusks of the genus Pinctada in the family Pteriidae.
They have a strong inner shell layer composed of nacre, also known as mother of pearl.
All species within the genus Pinctada share the physiological properties that can lead to the production of large pearls of commercial value, and therefore attempts have been made to harvest pearls commercially from many different Pinctada species.
This is the largest oyster species that grows up to 20-30cm in diameter. It occurs naturally only in the warm tropical South Pacific waters of the Arafura Sea (off Northern Australia), Eastern and Northern Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar and Northern Thailand and to the east to Fiji and Tahiti.
Pinctada Maxima can be broadly divided into two types based on the color of the shell’s inside, the silver-lipped and the gold-lipped. They are the source of larger White South Sea pearls more than 10 mm in diameter, with some as large as 16-17mm with a weight of 7grams.
Australia and Indonesia are the main pearl producers, accounting for over 90% of production between them. White South Sea pearls are also produced in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, and the Amami-Oshima Islands of Japan.
White South Sea pearls have thick nacre and many gorgeous hues like silver white, pink and gold.