Extremely rare and found only in one place in the world, these tiny, delicate Niihau shells form this lovely and extra long necklace. This particular necklace was obtained from one of the local Hawaiian families and is now available for your review.
In Old Hawaii, these leis were revered and treated like gemstones and worn only by royalty and high officials. Their value is based on rarity of shell/color, natural sheen, skill of stringing, and stringing pattern.
The double strands of this lei are strung in the "pikake" style and uses hundreds of these even-colored beige shells that individually measure only 5mm in length.
The shells are collected on the sandy shores on Niihau island which is located off the coast of Kauai within the Hawaiian Island chain. The small island is privately owned by the Robinson family who purchased it in the late 1880's from King Kamehameha V.
Remote and secluded, Niihau is known as the "Forbidden Island" where time literally has stopped due to the prohibition of modern technology and conveniences.
Native islanders walk the beaches to collect the shells which are then sorted for size, quality, and color. Half of the shells that are found are rejected due to sub-standard quality. Even more are lost due to the piercing process indicating that this step is extremely tedious and time-consuming.
The long 40" lei is secured at the top with a smooth cowry shell.