Lightweight and boasting a natural iridescence, capiz shell has been used to make everything from chandeliers to jewelry. Similar in appearance to Mother of Pearl, capiz shell is coveted for its delicate appearance and natural luster. But where does this unique material come from?
What is Capiz Shell?
Capiz comes from the shell of the Placuna placentamollusk, which is native to the seas of Southeast Asia, specifically Indonesia and the Philippines. The mollusks are edible, which means fisherman can harvest them for their meat and reduce waste by reusing their shells for décor and handicrafts.
Traditionally, capiz shell was used as a substitute for glass, which is why the Placuna placenta mollusk is nicknamed the “windowpane oyster”. As far back as the 16thcentury, Spanish settlers in the Philippines utilized it to stained glass windows for churches.
Currently, most capiz goods still come from the Philippines, where harvesting and working with the shell has become a signature handicraft of the region.