Photo: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
Cowrie shells -- otherwise known as those little white seashells that look like Golden Crisp cereal -- make some pretty rockin' necklaces. Unlike your typical stones and metal and whatnot, though, it's a bit tricky to figure out what to wear with them. Match your textures, style and materials to coordinate with a cowrie shell necklace in effective and aesthetically-pleasing ways, whether you're hitting up the beach or just making them part of your everyday wear.
Naturally, cowrie shells go perfectly with other cowrie shells. There's a catch, though; your necklace should be bigger than your earrings, or the pairing will look unbalanced. If your cowrie shell necklace is just a single cowrie hung as a pendant, it will be overwhelmed by a couple of hanging cowrie earrings, unless you have a giant cowrie necklace and small shells on the earrings. Otherwise, wear cowrie earrings with a necklace made of many cowrie shells strung as beads.
White bead earrings of just about any kind go great with cowrie shells, with one exception: don't wear pearls! The glassy, porcelain-like white shine of a cowrie shell doesn't work well with the shimmer of pearls, but it does work well with shiny plastic, porcelain or matte white beads. The one exception to this rule is if you have a necklace that already combines pearl and porcelain, then go to town!
Plain rhinestone or clear gem studs provide a pleasant contrast to the texture and opaque color of cowrie, but choose your colors carefully. Since cowrie shells are cream-colored and brown, pair them with either white studs, or with an earthy color of gem, such as orange citrine, something yellow or something brownish. Avoid colors such as blue, pink or most greens.
Cowrie shell necklaces are often made with organic, earthy bead materials that complement the shells quite naturally. You can apply the same rule to earrings. Anything made from bare (unpainted) wood, clay, carved shell or bone will probably pair nicely with your cowries, though do remember to keep the colors earthy unless your necklace contains brighter tones and shades.
If you wear metal earrings with your cowrie shells, just remember to avoid letting the style get too formal. Don't wear fancy silver and gold earrings, in other words, but wear rougher, more avant-garde metal earring shapes and/or earrings made from more industrial metals, such as steel. Copper is an excellent pairing with cowrie shells, as are handmade, twisty artisan styles.