Seeing how successful the 'Eye of Saint Lucia' has become, nowadays many jewels that are on sale are actually made with operculums from warm seas.

The name 'Eye of Saint Lucia' being unprotected, nothing prevents using the appellation to refer to the operculums from warm seas.

As they are very much alike, confusion is easily made and played with.

The main cause for this misuse comes from the rarity of the Mediterranean Eye of Saint Lucia. On the other hand it is quite easy to come by operculums from warm seas. Those are collected profusely in Asia and have a very low market value.

The typically Mediterranean legend of the 'Eye of Saint Lucia' concerns – obviously – the operculum of the Mediterranean 'Rough Turbo' ("Turbo Rugueux" in French), not the operculums from warm seas, which often have local legends that are quite similar. Thus, in Asia, it is called 'Shiva's Eye'.

The Eye of Saint Lucia is the operculum of a shell called 'Mediterranean Rough Turbo'. This operculum's name comes from the legend of martyr Saint Lucia.

This shell is found only in the Mediterranean sea, however one can find shells' operculums in many warm seas : Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, China sea, etc.

Those operculums that share a strong resemblance with the Eye of Saint Lucia are often sold under this appellation in the market. However, despite this confusion, it is possible to differenciate the Mediterranean operculum from the one coming from warm seas.


How to recognize the true Mediterranean Eye of Saint Lucia ?


The Mediterranean operculum can be found in two different ways:


- The operculum taken directly on the shell


The Mediterranean Rough Turbo is collected most of the time by professional fishermen who gather them in their fishing nets.

In this case, the shell's operculum presents one white side, and another one that is bright orange / coral.

The orange side reminds the shape of a human ear.

Those two elements (color and shape) are characteristic of the Mediterranean Rough Turbo.

In the legend, the orange face is the stylized symbol for the Blessed Virgin.

Symbol of Saint Lucia's eye, the white face shows an orange spiral when polished, the same shade as its back's.

Ovally shaped, its maximum size is from 25 to 30 mm.

Once the operculum collected, the shell is set back to the water. Thus it will create again a new operculum.


- The Eye of Saint Lucia picked up on beaches


It is the most easily confusable one since it has lost its orange colour.

One needs to know that the growing Turbo changes operculum when it does not fit any more. It gets rid of it to produce a new, bigger one. This operculum thrown away by the Rough Turbo can be found on beaches during storms.

Brewed by water and sand, it has lost its orange pigmentation, and its colour tends to light brown / dark brown.
The white face shows a brownish spiral.
The ear shape is a little less obvious on small operculums.

Ovally shaped, its size varies from 2 to 20 mm.
The larger operculums are quite rare: one will most likely find smaller ones (5 to 10 mm) on the beaches.




Called 'Shiva's Eye' in Asia, this operculum is very common in China Sea, Indian Ocean, and Pacific Ocean.

Its market value is quite low: for the price of only one Mediterranean Eye of Saint Lucia, one can buy a whole kilogramme of operculums in the Philippines.

Imported from Asia as finished jewels, they are then sold as the Eye of Saint Lucia since the appellation is not protected.

That is the main reason why one can find so many in most souvenir shops or specialized stores.

Its shape is rather round. Its size varies between 10 to 100 mm, and depending on the species of the shells that produce them, it may have different colors.

It shows one white side with a spiral that is quite similar to the Eye of Saint Lucia's, and another coloured face that can be either dark brown, light orange, or with shades from dark blue to green.

The coloured face is very round: it doesn't look like an ear like the Mediterranean one does.

Very thick (several centimeters for the biggest operculums), it can be sliced.

The operculum is often set in a closed jewel. It is then impossible to see the coloured face. In that case, one needs to pays attention to the colour of the spiral showing on the white face of the operculum.

The colour of the spiral is directly linked to the colour of the shell's back. The spiral will always be the same colour as the coloured face, which will give you a hint as to where the operculum is from.