Do you like shells that come directly out of the water that are smooth and shiny. If that is the case then this is the family of shells that you want to start collecting. As you know most shells in their natural state are not attractive. They have algae, barnacles, dents, and fractures that have to be removed when they come out of the water to make them presentable. That is not the case with this family of shells. The animal inside protects the outer covering of its house or shell. You have to admire anyone that keeps their house looking nice all the time. Cowry shell animals have a double mantel or flaps of flesh that fold over the top of their shells. The best way to describe it is for you cup your hands together and then spread them gently apart. When the animal travels it keeps these two pieces of flesh folded over the top of the shell. This flesh covering keeps the shell moisturized and also aids in producing ingredients for growth of the shell. Cowries range in sizes from that of a pea to a small football.
Over the years cowries have been used by mankind in many different ways. Some parts of the world used particular species such as Cypraea moneta as money. That is why it is referred to as the Money Cowry.
It is even said that in some of the Islands Cowries were worn as ornaments to denote rank. Primitive people saw many symbolisms in the shell and used them in their ceremonies. Even today you will find there is a lot of jewelry made from cowries. In the Old Gray House Gift shop you will find many craft items that incorporate cowries in them. I am listing some of the Cowries you will find in our Shell Shop. Specimen types such as the Golden Cowrie are available on advance request. For special request contact me at
Golden Cowrie (Cypraea aurantium - Gmelin, 1791)
The Golden Cowrie is a very rare shell that is not generally found available in most shell shops due to their cost. If you desire one contact me in advance before you come to the Old Gray House and I will see if I can have it waiting for you.