Vintage Crystal and Operculum Earrings

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Round Crystal Top



These one-of-a-kind earrings feature operculum shells and rock crystal links, c. 1900 - 1920.    Because these unusual shells resemble eyes, they were thought to have protective qualities and were quite popular in jewelry created in the late 1800s to the 1930s.

Details and Materials

  • 1 1/2 - 1 3/4” long
  • vintage rock crystal links
  • antique operculum and faux tortoise shell drops
  • 14K gold-filled ear wires 

Origin Story

In Latin, the word "operculum" means lid or cover, and these shells provided a protective cover for certain sea and land snails.   Operculum jewelry was popular during Victorian times and said to ward off evil and bring good luck. These pieces were often brought back by sailors for loved ones when traveling through the south seas and referred to as "Sailor's Valentines."