#TBT & Thrift Store Finds: The Puka Shell Necklace

TBT Puka Shells - Community Services Thrift StoreWhile pulling my volunteer shift at Community Services Thrift Store in Gibsons, BC, I came across a blast from my past in the $2 jewellery bin: a puka shell necklace.

Puka shell necklaces were THE thing when I was in high school. Guys and girls wore the white shell choker to school everyday. They looked best during September when we all still had our summer tans and the necklaces glowed against our skin.

I went through at least three of the delicately strung beads. They never really suited me. I was too pale with dirty blond hair that hung straight and slightly awkward. I was an introvert, nerdish . . . even bit of an outcast. The shell choker helped to hide my too long giraffe neck.

Needless to say, high school was not my favourite time of my life.

According to WikiPedia, puka shells are “naturally occurring bead-like objects which can be found on some beaches in Hawaii. Each one was the beach-worn apex of a cone snail shell, a kind of seashell from a sea snail. Puka is the Hawaiian word for “hole” and refers to the naturally occurring hole in the middle of these rounded and worn shell fragments often made into necklaces.” The necklaces became popular in the 1960s and, due to tourism and folklore, skyrocketed in the 1970s.

Why the trend in my high school days? Well, there is the theory that fashion sees a rebirth every 20 years, which would put it on mark for making a comeback right about now.

I have another theory.

Working in a thrift store, every volunteer shift is a stroll down memory lane. From Cabbage Patch Kid dolls to the same crock pot my mother had to a set of puka shells, there is also something on the shelves to remind me of a different time where I was different, the world was different and my dreams were different.

It’s interesting to see how I’ve changed while holding an item from my past. It’s almost a window into how I once was but with the vision to see how far I have come from my high school years.

For those wondering, I bought the puka shells. My hair is still straight and slightly awkward. I am a bit more tan now that I live on the coast of BC. Still a bit of an introvert, outcast — but I wear it proudly now.

Needless to say, life got better after high school.

There is something about connecting with that awkward teenager from the 90s. The one who never thought she would be comfortable in her own skin. Paying $2 to realize just how far I’ve come . . . priceless.