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Jackie Kennedy tortoiseshell glasses

Via Getty Images

The tortoiseshell trend is having a moment, and I'm here for it. Here's why:


As the age old adage says, what's old is new again, and it couldn't be more true for the tortoiseshell trend that's popping up everywhere. Originally produced from the shells of sea turtles, this material is celebrated for its distinctive patterning and unusual color. Tortoiseshell musical instruments and ornate decorative items could be found in ancient Greek and Roman times, and throughout Asia, and surged in popularity again during the reign of Louis XIV. Although the trade of tortoiseshell was banned in the 1970s, the trend has only gained in popularity, however the original organic material is largely replaced with acetate today. Keep scrolling to see my 32 favorite tortoiseshell accessories!


Small decorative accessories such as spoons and hair clips pair well with fellow organic elements such as marble and rattan.

The bold and striking material is universally appealing and looks equally at home in a modern abode as in an 18th century palace.

Trade of genuine tortoiseshell is inexistent today in most parts of the world, but that doesn't mean we aren't just as fascinated with its unique mottled look.

Via Marylou Crowley for Arteriors

According to Julius Ceasar, the troves of tortoiseshell in Alexandria were the chief spoil of his Egyptian conquest.

Via Etsy

Throughout history tortoiseshell has been surrounded by legend and captures our imagination in part because of the mysterious creatures it comes from.

The glamorous and ornate once-rare material became linked with the concept of European discovery, conquest, and commerce.


Tortoiseshell can be very impactful even in small doses, making it universally appealing. I've rounded up some of my favorite pieces right here -- enjoy!


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