DIY Gifts for Surfers: Resin Shell Jewelry 

Day six million of my home exile while my ankle continues to heal. I think I’m looking game for a weekend paddle, hopefully, since it’s pretty flat anyway around here with ice cold water. Happy Thanksgiving, I can’t hold the positivity in.

On a happier note, something I’ve been itching to try while home bound is something I used to see at Craft Fairs in the past. Now, it’s re-emerged as a trend among the ocean loving set- sand resin jewelry. Jewelry with hollow cavities that hold sand and crushed shells from anywhere in the world you choose, encased in clear resin.  Now that jewelry resin is available at a few craft stores, I wanted to see if the DIY version was really a savings.

For this project, I used some sand and beach shells someone collected, bottled, and labeled, but somehow ended up on the shelf at the local Goodwill for 50 cents. I love collecting shells and sand from different beaches, and here was a sample, delivered right to me, for less than a buck. Turns out, it’s from our neighbor, Puerto Rico. Very similar shells, similar quartz sand primarily, just like our beaches.

Collected from Playa de Argullo in Puerto Rico!

I picked up some jewelry resin from Hobby Lobby- some of the bigger Michael’s also carry it. DO NOT use the stuff from the hardware store- that stuff is meant to be used for adhesion, and isn’t usually clear, nor self doming, like jewelry resin is. Also, many hardware types aren’t waterproof! Couldn’t believe it either.

Make sure you use Nitrile gloves (don’t use just any rubber gloves), get some wooden stir sticks, some toothpicks, a small plastic cup, and your mask and safety glasses. Whew. Safety first.

I used Ice Resin, self doming clear. Don’t forget the blue Nitrile gloves.

But first, I need to get my charms for my jewelry together. The commercial jewelry I’ve seen looks like a mix of sand and bits of shell, so I’m going to need to crush some of these shells to make them fit in the jewelry charms. I chose the brightest shells from the bunch to crush, put them in a thick ziplock bag, then hammered them with a mallet.

Getting ready to hammer the most colorful shells by putting them into a ziplock bag

Crushing the shells fine with the mallet

I made a little scoop out of the end of a straw so I could add sand and shells into the deep pocketed jewelry pieces. These deep pockets are designed for resin work. 

Diagonally cut the end off of the end of a straw to make a scoop for adding sand and shell bits

Adding sand and shells to the jewelry piece before I add resin

Since the tube of resin contains one ounce, and this is important:


There’s no “saving” some for later. Because air can trap in the tube, it’s too easy to get the mix off if you use what you think was half a tube, and your stuff won’t kick.

Since I’d have to use up a whole tube, I tried to make up as many pieces as possible. For that pieces that were too shallow for shells, I cut up wax wrapper logos and glued them down so I could epoxy over them.

Cutting up the tiny inside wax logos from a wrapper for some epoxy charms

Make sure you cluster your pieces together so you don’t have to drip the resin all over the place when filling each cavity. The toothpicks will also come in handy for this.

Pushing out the epoxy mix into a cup for mixing, all of it a once- NOT saving any!!!!

Stirring for at least a minute with a popsicle stick (unused!) Don’t stir too fast, or you’ll get tons of bubbles

Use the popsicle stick and the toothpick to drip resin into the tiny charms, like dripping honey. Don’t take all day, but this jewelry resin gives you a while before it starts to cure, which is nice. That gives you time to pop bubbles in the resin once it’s poured into the jewelry charms. Maybe bubbles are ok with you for effects, but you don’t want too many either because your piece may not cure correctly. Don’t mess with it too much- the stuff self-domes, remember- and set it aside. I had placed my pieces on a silicone craft sheet (old cookie sheet), then covered each grouping with a plastic cup. We’ve had these Christmas cups in the pantry for years, waiting for that wild cocktail party to break out. I figured we could sacrifice three, but this might be the year I get caught in a shortage. Good thing beer comes in a bottle.

I made sure to cover up all the charms while they cured

Out of many charms I made, I really only had a few that came out ok to me. This was a tough project, but fun, and relatively cheap if you already have some of these tools and some patience. My approximate cost breakdown for materials I had to buy:

Jewelry Epoxy Resin: $7.20

Jewelry charms for Resin: $7.00

Shells and Sand: $0.50

Wax wrappers: Free


I ended up getting a nice pendant, a potential bracelet, and three pairs of earrings with minimal experience using epoxy on items this small. Five nice gifts for under $15, not bad.

The best ones of the bunch- no bubbles or general funkiness

I love these earrings- freakin’ hard to get the resin right, but worth it!

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