Puka shells originally consisted of naturally-occurring, beachworn pieces of cone snail shells, a kind of seashell. Puka is the Hawaiian word for "hole" and refers to a naturally-occurring hole in the middle of the shell.
Puka shells were made into necklaces, bracelets and anklets because they already had a hole so that they could be strung like beads. Puka jewelry first became popular in Hawaii, though many species of cone snail, family Conidae, are found in tropical oceans worldwide.
In Hawaii, the wearing of puka shells was traditionally thought to ensure a peaceful and safe voyage, especially for sailors on a long journey, so puka shell necklaces were especially worn by those who had to travel at sea.
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