Ancient cultures prized jewelry fashioned from the shells of the Glycymeris genus (saltwater bittersweet clams). Various sizes of clam shells were made into rings, necklaces, and especially bracelets. The Glycymeris shells that have been recovered from archaeological sites throughout the US Southwest generally originated from points along the Pacific shore of Baja California, throughout Mexico's Gulf of California, and as far south along the Mexican mainland as Acapulco. It appears some travel was involved to get the clams from their briny homes to the arid pueblos of our region.
If you are interested in making your very own Glycymeris jewelry - with or without umbo embellishment - Allen Denoyer, Archaeology Southwest's Ancient Technologies Expert and Preservation archaeologist, has a photo-rich, step-by step DIY tutorial that requires no power tools at all. Your list of supplies simply includes the Glycymeris shells of your choice, an appropriate set of abrasive sandstone, lots of time, and elbow grease. Let's get started - Thank you, Allen!