Naklua fishing families have found another way to supplement their income, collecting seashells to sell to tourists as jewelry or decorations.
The wives of fishermen around Soi 18 have been buying and collecting shells for years on Pattaya, Wong Amat and Jomtien Beach. Recently, many pulled out their finest examples and crafted them into necklaces, bracelets and home furnishings which are sold in the fishing community and on Wong Amat Beach. Some are matched up with silver for earrings and pendants and sell anywhere between 10 and 1,000 baht.
Pen Chanchai, 57, said decorations made from single shells have been difficult to sell, although seashell mobiles and general souvenirs are selling well.
Some of the many beautiful creations for sale at Wong Amat Beach.
Pen said she chooses only the finest shells, passing over those with cracks or defects. For necklaces and bracelets, she punches tiny holes in the shell then uses fine threads to string them together.
No matter the product, shells are sprayed with a protective lacquer and dried in the sun before she details them with ink or paint.
Seeing the success the Naklua community has had, various other tourism destinations are also taking up the seashell business and many shops can be found in Bang Saray, Koh Loi, Koh Larn and within Pattaya. Department stores and other shopping centers are also carrying seashell products.
For the local fishing community, under pressure from commercial operators, it’s one more way to leverage ancient traditions to make a living.