Purple Spiny Oyster Ring – Grand Lake, Colorado
The Grand Lake area has an array of unique specialty shops featuring jewelry & other fine goods.
Located at an elevation of 8,367 feet, Grand Lake is the largest natural body of water in Colorado. Formed by glaciation 30,000 years ago, this natural lake is known as the headwaters of the Colorado River. The lake has an estimated depth of 265 feet and was called “Spirit Lake” by the Native Americans who camped by its shore.
The accompanying town has a variety of storefronts and eateries. I fell in love with Bob Scott’s, which features a fabulous selection of Native American jewelry & fun gifts.
Traveling around Colorado, we’ve visited numerous gem and jewelry stores. This Purple Spiny Oyster Ring caught my eye because it was so different from what’s common. I had previously never heard of or seen it, so I loved getting a lesson on this colorful shell.
The Spiny Oyster comes from the species, Spondylus varius. As their name implies, Spiny Oysters are covered with menacing spines that make them difficult to harvest. However, their shells are known for being unique, beautiful, and colorful.
The shell is still entirely harvested by hand from the waters of the Gulf of California and is typically found along the coasts of North Carolina down to the waters near Brazil, in the Sea of Cortez, and off the coast of Baja Mexico and Baja California. Spiny Oysters are rare finds and are especially treasured by Native American artists for their beautiful red, orange, purple, and white colors.
Many Navajo & Zuni artists started creating with Spiny Oyster once Coral became endangered and was no longer able to be mined. Orange spiny oyster can range in color – from yellow, to orange, to red. This orange spiny oyster (pictured above) is the common variety found from mid- to low- ocean depths so snorkelers and scuba divers can easily get to it. Purple Spiny Oyster, or “deep purple”, is much harder to harvest because of the ocean depth at which it is found – making it rarer and often harder to find.
Spiny oysters are part of the mollusk family, and are closer to a scallop than an actual oyster. The quills on these spiky shellfish are ground off and the shells are polished to reveal the beautiful hues and striations, and then crafted into rings, earrings, necklaces, etc., usually set in sterling silver.
Grand Lake was such a great place to visit on our way up from Tabernash! I hope to get back soon so that I can do more shopping and hopefully get on the water this time! Since we were just passing through, we didn’t have a chance to go paddle-boarding… I hope to spend at least a night in the area next time so that there will be plenty of space for all the fun to be had 🙂