The History Series: Tortoiseshell

It’s no secret that we love tortoiseshell. From eyeware to barware, we never pass up a chance to infuse any area of our lives with this beautiful pattern. We’ve been into this timeless style for a while and decided it’s finally time to do a little recon on the history of the look and share some ideas on how to incorporate it into your home.

Half Past Seven tortoiseshell glasses

Tortoiseshells have been a staple in home decor since ancient times, when Greeks and Romans used them to make decorative objects, or as components of instruments, like lyres. 

The British Museum

Tortoiseshells and items crafted from tortoiseshells were traded widely until 1973, when hawksbill turtles were placed on the endangered animals list and the trade and sale of tortoise was banned. This is the part in the post where we mention that when we refer to ‘tortoiseshell’ these days, we are always referring to imitation materials - never the actual endangered turtle shells.

Get notified when Half Past Seven's sold out tortoise ice bucket is back in stock.

These days, there are so many great imitation and reproduction pieces available. We love the earth tones and texture tortoise brings, and while we use it year-round, it feels especially appropriate in the fall. We think the warm tones lend themselves well to cozy spaces, like a dining room or den, or masculine spaces like a study or a bar area.

You can find tortoise in many of our staple barware pieces, like our rocks, Tom Collins, and water glasses. Additionally, two of our ice buckets are made of tortoise glass (our handle-less style is available now and our handled option will restock later this winter).

Where will you add tortoiseshell next in your home? 

Architectural Digest 

Miles Redd

Erin Kestenbaum

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