Volutes represent the royalty among seashells. The word voluta comes from old latin, and is still used in modern day italian, it means "wanted", which in conchology makes a lot of sense. Most species have large, beautifuly sculptured and conspicuously colored shells; features that make them instant favorites with novice collectors, and the pride of well established collections. Here are some of my best, and favorite specimens.

Lyria cloveriana Weaver, 1963

91.9mm. Tangalle, Sri Lanka.

A very beautiful Lyria, it has a large, subtly sculptured fusiform shell, with bulbous proto, and gentle knobs. The surface is smooth and kind of opaque. The hue can vary between shells, but in general the color is tones of flesh and solid brick red, with fine spiral lines of red. Even though more available today, like H. arausiaca, these are endemic.

Lyria lyraeformis Swainson, 1821

114mm. Pemba Is. Zanzibar.

A most beautiful, high-spired, fusiform Lyria, with evenly spaced ribs and bulbous proto. This has always been rare and sought-after. It is also the largest in the genus, but shells nearing the almost 6" mark can command serious prices. The shells are generally colored in shades of flesh, and decorated with spiral dashes of dark brown. Its quite a variable volute.

Lyria p. planicostata Sowerby, 1903

83.6mm. Langab, Balut Is. Philippines

This is one of my favorite volutes: An elegant beauty which is highly overlooked. The species is actually one of the largest in the genus, reaching 4"+ sizes, it´s also rare. It has a beautifully sculptured and heavy fusiform body, with gently-slopping, sparse ribs. The color is pale yellow, with thin spiral lines of sepia, that look almost had drawn. The pattern is stunning.

Scaphella junonia Lamarck, 1804

126.1mm. Sanibel Island, Florida. USA.

This is one of the most famous members of the family, and an instant favorite. It is actually the most common member of a genus that inhabits deeper waters. Most junonias come from times when they were commercially trawled, and are therefore badly damaged. The depicted shell is not gem, but is a rare exception, in having a perfectly formed natural lip.

Voluta musica Linnaeus, 1758

94.7mm. Guajira Peninsula. Colombia.

This species is a classic, and an all-time favorite among collectors. The shell is quite variable, and has many named forms, along its wide distribuition in the SE. Caribbean. It can attain a size of 4", but this mark is rare. Most shells that enter the market come from Venezuela, where it is more frecuent. These shells are large, inflated, nicely ornamented and knobby.



Harpulina arausiaca Lightfoot, 1786

69.9mm. Cuddalore, India.

One of the prettiest members of the family is an edemic species that used to be quite rare, and is now being sold at commercial prices. I prefer form vexilla Gmelin, 1791; with more well defined spiral lines. The depicted shell is selected out of dozens, and truly unique because it blends features of both forms, along with strong color and stunning contrast.