Turtleshell, also sometimes incorrectly referred to as “tortoiseshell”, is a material derived from the shell of the hawksbill sea turtle. It is composed of keratin, a protein also found in human hair and nails. Turtleshell has been used for centuries to make jewelry, combs, and other decorative items. It is highly valued for its unique and beautiful pattern, which can range from yellow and orange to brown and black.

In the 18th century, tortoiseshell was a highly sought-after material for decorating a variety of items, due to its malleability. This malleability made it ideal for creating intricate designs and patterns, which could be used to adorn jewellery, furniture, and other decorative items. The popularity of antique tortoiseshell during this period was largely due to its unique appearance and the ease with which it could be shaped and crafted. As a result, it became a popular choice for applying as veneer, in Boulle and marquetry.


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