This jewelry is made from the quahog clam shell, found along the U.S. Eastern seashore. Wampum shell beads have played a significant role in American Indian culture for thousands of years. Purple quahog beads (suckauhock) and white shell beads (wompampeage) are traditionally used for adornment and as part of tribal ceremonies and rites.
In the early history of the American colonies, strings of tubular shell beads were also used as a medium of exchange and became America’s first standard currency. Wampum is still made from the quahog clam shell and its use in jewelry continues in both contemporary and traditional designs.