Red Shell Jewelry
Gallup, New Mexico


About Us


An article in the Indian Trader from June 1979! Click on the image to see more!

Red Shell began operation over 40 years ago with the passion, hard work, dedication, and love from John Hornbek. Along with his wife, Sylvia, he has built a wonderful business, with a store on historic Route 66 in Gallup, New Mexico.


Red Shell specializes in Spiny Oyster Shells.


Spiny Oyster, Spondylus Broderip Princep is found in the Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico.  John and Sylvia re-discovered it in 1976 and began to export the shell for jewelry making use in the Southwest by Native American people. The shell comes in a variety of colors but mainly in red, orange, and purple; sometimes yellow and white. Spondylus Calcifer commonly called Giant Pacific Rock Oyster is the purple spiny oyster shell which is found in shallow waters consisting from 0 to 60 feet.  Spondylus Broderip Princep is the red and orange spiny found in deeper waters from around 80 feet and deeper.

The name Spondylus is a Latin word that means spines on it's back. Broderip was the name of the Scientist who traveled with Cortez when Baja California was discovered and explored. The name Princep was given to this shell because when Cortez presented his marine discoveries to the king of Spain, who financed his expedition, the kings daughter fell in love with the shell. Therefore, the shell was named after the Princess.

John Hornbek has gone to Baja California to export shells over 115 times and is continuing his passion to provide a beautiful product.