Primarily as decoration. Sea shells are iconic as representing the nostalgia and relaxing atmosphere of the beach. They are popular decorative pieces for beach homes.
Some people use them as jewelry, as they are very beautiful and delicated when polished.
Huge volumes of shells are used as aggregate for concrete (and asphalt sometimes) in locations nearby. Less commonly, shells may be used to form the texture (while adding some strength) in roofing shingles.
In the past, some sea shells had monetary value. Native Americans and early settlers would use some sea shells as currency. They called this form of money “wampum”. Native Americans would exchange wampum as a form of making a treaty. Early settlers to the Americas could pay for a ferry in wampum. The final recorded use of wampum was in 1701 in New York.
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