Local Scuba Diver Hand Carves Tiny, Cute Jewelry Sculptures of Hawaiian Sea Turtles

'Alohi Kai’s new Honu jewelry collection is swimmingly elegant. We could all use a little more turtle power.


We’ve been slowing our shopping boat down since the holidays, in order to get our financial heads back above water. Now that we’re two months into the new year, however, it’s time to leave this lost-at-sea life to the fishes and set anchor for something new and totally shoppable.


Lucky for us, a quick glance through the periscope shows us an exotic set of marine wildlife just off the bow. Set sail for the elegant Honu collection from 'Alohi Kai jewelry, which specializes in hand-carved jewelry inspired by the sea. The brand is the brainchild of ocean-obsessed designer Shera Mercer, a scuba diver with an eye for accessorizing and a talent for tiny sculptures.


The mostly self-taught jeweler gets creative with her pieces, fitting hammerheads into edgy knuckle rings, cup coral into cufflinks and little urchins into dainty studs. Mercer’s already got sleek sharks, exotic anemones and languid box jellies (from the “Pelagic Predators” collection—how can you not love that?) in her net of offerings, but didn’t yet want to tackle the ubiquitous turtle until she found a way to make it her own.


It didn’t take her long to catch on, though. A set of downright sculptural, serene little creatures are quite the departure from the typical stylized or petroglyph-inspired turtles normally swimming through local jewelry shops. Mercer’s take on the honu has an ‘ohana of them (mama and five babies included) strung into a fun, whimsical necklace or one of the dainty little reptiles dangling among tassels and gemstones on a pair of earrings.


In fact, these fine sterling silver pieces—and Mercer’s other provocative carvings-turned-wearable-art—are really making waves, with the Honolulu Museum of Art gift shop picking up her line to retail.


As for us? We’re ready to dive right in.   


$69–$829, alohikai.com.