Tortoise shell is back on everyone’s fashion radar. We’re seeing the gold-and-brown mottled pattern just about everywhere, from the perfect pair of Jackie O sunglasses to wallpaper. But if you ask us, tortoise shell never really went out of style. Just like leopard, it’s a tried-and-true classic.
Originally obtained from the curved shields of the hawksbill turtle, the ornamental material has long been valued for its unique appearance and durability. Tortoise shell was widely used in ancient times in the West and in Asia. And during 17th-century France under Louis XIV, it became highly prized as inlay in small luxury objects, such as snuff boxes, jewelry and combs. Today, the use of real tortoise shell is illegal, but lucky for us, the look is easily replicated.
Because tortoise shell is so timeless, you simply can’t go wrong with putting it in your home. Here are some of our favorite looks this season.
We think of tortoise shell as a neutral, so it goes with everything and works anywhere. Bunny’s Tortoise Hurricane is eye-catching on a table or a buffet. Here, the pair looks beautiful on a coral tablecloth and mixed in with blue-and-white dishes.
There’s certainly a sophisticated quality about tortoise shell, and these Tortoise Vases by Bunny Williams automatically elevate any arrangement. The darker color and pattern also hides stems and floral foam for a seamless look. They’re made of mouth-blown glass, so each one will have the delightful variations that make artisan-crafted glass unique.
We like to use tortoise shell as we would our favorite animal print: in small doses. These Tortoise Votives are the perfect accents. When you’ve got company coming, just pop them on a table, kitchen island or mantel to give a golden glow to your affair.
The simple handle shape of our Bunny Williams Flatware was inspired by an antique set of bone knives Bunny has owned for years. These easily dress up or down to fit the occasion and works in with your existing dinnerware.
On a lamp, the natural patina of tortoise shell is even more enhanced, creating instant warmth. The gold-flecked pattern is a real chameleon — it easily fits in modern and traditional interiors — so don’t be afraid to mix it in with the accents you already have.
So do yourself a favor and buy one thing with tortoise shell. We promise you’ll love it forever.