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Home > Other Products > True Hawaiian Gold, the Ni'ihau Shell Lei (Lei Pūpū 'o Ni'ihau)

The Kaua'i Sunset with Ni'ihau off in the distance

History of the Ni'ihau shell lei as we know them today, is referred to by books, Ni'ihau Shell Leis, by Linda Paik Moriarty and Pupu `o Ni'ihau (Shell Leis of Ni'ihau), by Linda Paik Moriarty and the Honolulu Academy of Arts.  This book makes much information available of its history dating back from visits of Captain Cook in the late 1770's, to current example of lei of the 20th century


You can own a piece of Old Hawaiian History.  It has been brought to me (by a friend who is the rightful owner of this lei through his family), and I have been asked to seek out a new home ('ohana) for this Hawaiian treasure.  Shown below are pictures of an original lei pupu 'o Ni'ihau made by Tutu Kele herself.  This lei is authentic and carries a Certificate of Authenticity with the replacement value of $35,000.

The style of the lei is called lei kui pololei, or sewn straight.  This is also know as the single or Old Fashioned style.  It is 17.5 inches long (19.5 including the cowry shell) with 6 strands, colors are 3 strands kamoa (yellow), and 3 strands of `ula`ula (red), all of the kahelelani shell (Leptothyra veruca).  The exact age of this lei is unknown but most likely made it in the 1940's, maybe early 1950's.  This lei was originally purchased by Florence Klammer (the Great Aunt of the owner of this lei) at the Bishop Museum in the 1950's.  Florence Klammer lived on Mc Kinnley Street in Honolulu, working at the state library from the early 1920's until she retired in 1966.  She died in Honolulu in 1980.  The lei was found in the original box, never worn, which was given to her younger sister, and now to her son.  I will accept all valid and reasonable offers for the purchase of this beautiful lei.  You can contact me via the contact page with your offer, and with any questions you may have.  I will contact you within the next day with a response. 


There are differences in shell lei that are considered "Authentic" Ni'ihau shell lei and what are also called "Ni'ihau style shell lei".  There are different but same family of shells that are collected on the Hawaiian island Kaua'i that are on  Ni'ihau too.  Shells like the tiny kahelelani shells in it's bright colors, the momi shells in all the different patterns and colors, the alilea shell with it's golden stripes around and others.  The difference between the shells that are found on the beaches of the island of Ni'ihau and the shells that are found on the island of Kaua'i (for example) are, the shells found on Ni'ihau are of a higher luster and brilliance of color.  Although the style of shell lei made in Hawai'i are surpassed by none, it is not to say that shell lei made with similar shells to Ni'ihau are not valuable.  The true art is a value in itself.  The quality and validity of the shells collected on the island of Ni'ihau are also, a value in itself.  Therefore, what is known as the "Authentic" Ni'ihau shell lei carries greater monetary value and is insurable. 

The law passed by the Hawai'i State Legislature says (what I understand it to be) that, if your shells used to make a Ni`ihau shell lei were collected only on the island of Ni`ihau, only then can you call it a "Ni`ihau Shell Lei".  Otherwise, you must call your Ni`ihau style lei a "Kaua'i Shell Lei".   This law protects the value of the Ni`ihau shells that are found only on the island of Ni`ihau, and the Native Hawaiians that so meticulously carry on this true island tradition.  You should always ask if the shells (that you are considering) that the lei is made with are Kaua'i shells or Ni`ihau shells.  You would want to know this information so that you can insure your lei.  You will also want to ask for your certificate of authenticity as well.  I believe that if your Jeweler or Crafter is required to answer your question honestly.  I also understand that a misrepresentation of the actual shells in any way can lead to a fine on the person.  Just be aware of what you are purchasing.  What you are purchasing should be insurable if authentic to Ni`ihau. 

This information in no way is meant to downplay the craft and art of shell lei making.  Especially with the tiny shells needed to create these masterpieces.  The value of these style leis are always going to be very expensive because of the tedious work involved and the immense time it takes to complete one from start to finish.  This information is provided only in the spirit of aloha and to help educate people that may not know enough about preparing to purchase a fine Ni`ihau Shell Lei.

These shells are not easy to come by Today, the rules are the same as they have been for many years.   The island of Ni`ihau is not open to visitors, investors, collectors or anyone.  In order to come to this island, you need to be a resident of the island of Ni`ihau or have blood relatives that still live there.  If you were native to this island and decided to move away without blood relatives still living there, you give up the right to ever return to Ni`ihau.  The Ni`ihau families that do collect shells pretty much keep them within their families because of their value.  When you see a price of an authentic Ni`ihau shell lei, the money collected goes back to pay many before the artist that makes the lei collects a penny. 

Each Ni`ihau shell lei, comes with a verifiable certificate of authenticity (with your request) which in itself, is as valuable as the lei.  With the certificate of authenticity, you can insure your "Authentic" Ni`ihau shell lei for it's full value.  The Ni`ihau shell lei with it's certificate is the only shell that is considered jewelry and that can be insured.  The Hawaiian islands are a land that has no precious metals or gem stones.  The Hawaiian lands are it's resources, and a wealth of it's own.  The very item of Old Hawai'i that was considered of great value (such as gems or precious stones) to the Hawaiian people and were only worn only by the Monarchy was feather work.  Handmade feather capes and cloaks, feathered helmets (mahiole) and feather leis were all of that.  Since then, the birds that the feathers were collected from have all been but extinct.  When time progressed, the shells had evolved into the next treasure.

Each of the Ni`ihau shell lei shown below, are available now and on hand (10/01/08).  You can physically see each of these lei at your request.  You can make arrangements to come and see me in California, or you can make arrangements for me to come to see you.  Each of these lei presented are a one of a kind lei.  One of a kind meaning each lei is made with a different color pattern or color combination.  If you were to order a Ni`ihau shell lei as shown be it the kipona style, pikake style, laiki style or identified be the type of momi shell used, your order can take up to a year to complete.  Depending on sources on hand and rarity of the shells requested will depend on the time to complete.  Either way, you will own a documented, verifiable, one of a kind "Authentic" Ni`ihau shell lei that you will treasure for a lifetime.  Please send any questions or requests that you might have to me via the contact page or telephone.


Lei Pūpū 'O Ni'ihau

Authentic Ni`ihau Shell Lei

This Ni`ihau shell lei shown below is a 36", 10 strand Lei Kahelelani and Kamoa. The Kamoa shell (Turbinadae), and the Kahelelani shell (Leptothyra Verruca), are tied in the Maunaloa style.  The colors of the shells are lenalena (yellow), waipāpipi (dark pink, or hot pink), keokeo (white), ākala āhiehie (medium pink), ōma`oma`o (beige with green), `ula`ula, ākala pua (pink), māku`e (brown), `ele`ele (black or dark brown), and ākala keokeo (medium white).    This Ni`ihau shell lei is breathtaking and considered one of the finest style lei, lei Maunaloa Kahelelani.

This Ni`ihau shell lei comes with a certificate of authenticity and appraisal (dated 8/10/01), with its replacement value of $60,000.00.  This Ni`ihau shell lei is made some of the colors of the Kahelelani shell that are increasingly difficult to gather in quantity.  A present day appraisal will fetch a higher replacement value due to these conditions.  The current asking price for this 10 strand authentic Ni`ihau shell lei is $15,000.00.  I will entertain all reasonable offers made on this Ni`ihau shell lei.  Please contact me with any questions and offers at anytime, just click on the contact link for information.

  To purchase this lei, please contact me


Lei Pūpū `O Ni`ihau

Authentic Ni`ihau Shell Lei

This Ni`ihau shell lei shown below is a 3 strand, 50" Lei Kipona Kui Pikake and Maunaloa style. The Kamoa shell (Turbinadae), and the Kahelelani shell (Leptothyra Verruca) are strung in kipona style (combination of shells and style on one strand).  The vibrant colors of the Kahelelani are lenalena (yellow), waipāpipi (dark pink, or hot pink), and `ele`ele (black or dark brown).  The Momi shells used in this Ni`ihau shell lei are colors Momi uliuli (grayish blue), Momi lenalena kua`ula (yellow with brown markings), and the most rare Momi kahakaha (honey gold with light brown stripes).

This Ni`ihau shell lei comes with a certificate of authenticity and appraisal (dated 8/10/01), with its replacement value of $30,000.00.  This Ni`ihau shell lei is made some of the colors of the Kahelelani shell that are increasingly difficult to gather in quantity.  A present day appraisal will fetch a higher replacement value due to these conditions.  The current asking price for this 3 strand authentic Ni`ihau shell Lei Kipona kui pikake is $9,000.00.  I will entertain all reasonable offers made on this Ni`ihau shell lei.  Please contact me with any questions and offers at anytime, just click on the contact link for information.

  To purchase this lei, please contact me


Lei Pūpū `O Ni`ihau

Authentic Ni`ihau Shell Lei

This Ni`ihau shell lei shown below is a 3 strand, 40" Lei Kipona Kui Pikake and Maunaloa style. The Kamoa shell (Turbinadae), and the Kahelelani shell (Leptothyra Verruca) are strung in kipona style (combination of shells and style on one strand).  The vibrant colors of the Kahelelani are ākala pua (pink), māku`e (brown), `ele`ele (black or dark brown).  The Momi shells used in this Ni`ihau shell lei are colors Momi `ōnikiniki, and Momi ke`oke`o.

This Ni`ihau shell lei comes with a certificate of authenticity and appraisal with its replacement value of $25,000.00.  This Ni`ihau shell lei, a present day appraisal will fetch a higher replacement value due to these conditions of certain colors being increasingly hard to find.  The current asking price for this 3 strand authentic Ni`ihau shell Lei Kipona Kui Pikake is $7,500.00.  I will entertain all reasonable offers made on this Ni`ihau shell lei.  Please contact me with any questions and offers at anytime, just click on the contact link for information.

 

  To purchase this lei please contact me


Lei Pūpū `O Ni`ihau

Authentic Ni`ihau Shell Lei

This Ni`ihau shell lei shown below is an elegant 20 strand, 50" Laiki Wedding Lei, a lei that is beautifully hand crafted in Hawai`i.  This Ni`ihau shell lei is strung straight with the Laiki shell (Columbella Moleculina), or the common name "rice" shell because of the shell shape.  This Ni`ihau shell lei worn loose or wound, is a beautiful adornment and unmistakably Hawaiian.

This Ni`ihau shell lei comes with a certificate of authenticity and appraisal with its replacement value of $15,000.00.  This Ni`ihau shell lei, a present day appraisal will certainly fetch a higher replacement value due to this lei style, length, and number of strands, as well as the immense time it takes to complete one of these lei.  The current asking price for this 20 strand authentic Ni`ihau Lei Laiki is $8,000.00.  I will entertain all reasonable offers made on this Ni`ihau shell lei.  Please contact me with any questions and offers at anytime, just click on the contact link for information.

 

  To purchase this lei please contact me


Lei Pūpū `O Ni`ihau

Authentic Ni`ihau Shell Lei

This Ni`ihau shell lei shown below is the elegant Laiki Wedding Lei.  This is a 15 strand, 30" lei that is beautifully crafted in Hawai`i.  This Ni`ihau shell lei is strung straight with the Laiki shell (Columbella Moleculina), or the common name "rice" shell because of the shell shape.  This Ni`ihau shell lei worn loose or wound, is a beautiful adornment and unmistakably Hawaiian.

This Ni`ihau shell lei does not come with a certificate of authenticity or appraisal with a replacement value.  The current asking price for this 15 strand authentic Ni`ihau Laiki Lei is $4,500.00.  I will entertain all reasonable offers made on this Ni`ihau shell lei.  Please contact me with any questions and offers at anytime, just click on the contact link for information.

    To purchase this lei please contact me

Lei Pūpū `O Ni`ihau

Authentic Ni`ihau Shell Lei

This Ni`ihau shell lei shown below is a 3 strand, 36" Lei Momi Pikake ke`oke`o, PURE WHITE in color.  These are beautiful pure white Momi shells that are used in this Ni`ihau shell lei, with a luster that is as shinny as a polished pearl.  This lei is strung in the Pikake style and is a treasure. 

This Ni`ihau shell lei comes with a certificate of authenticity and appraisal (dated 8/1/01) with its replacement value of $7,500.00.  This Ni`ihau shell lei, a present day appraisal will certainly fetch a higher replacement value due to the rarity of the pure white Momi shell, and its increasing value and exceptional quality.  The current asking price for this 3 strand authentic Ni`ihau Lei Momi Ke`oke`o is $7,500.00.  I will entertain all reasonable offers made on this Ni`ihau shell lei.  Please contact me with any questions and offers at anytime, just click on the contact link for information.

    To purchase this lei, you must please contact me
 

Lei Pūpū `O Ni`ihau

Authentic Ni`ihau Shell Lei

This Ni`ihau shell lei shown below is a 3 strand, 36" Lei Momi Pikake ke`oke`o.  These are beautiful white Momi shells that are used in this Ni`ihau shell lei, with a luster that is as shinny.  This lei is strung in the Pikake style and is not pure white, but a beautiful lei as well.

This Ni`ihau shell lei does not come with a certificate of authenticity or appraisal with a replacement value.  The current asking price for this 3 strand, 36" authentic Ni`ihau Lei pikake is $2,500.00.  I will entertain all reasonable offers made on this Ni`ihau shell lei.  Please contact me with any questions and offers at anytime, just click on the contact link for information.

 

  To purchase this lei, you must please contact me


 

 


 

  To purchase this lei, you must please contact me

 

 

 

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