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.

Nannamoria guntheri Smith, 1886

51.4mm. South Australia.

An unbelievably beautiful little volute, that tends to reach just over 2". The glossy shell is cream white with short knobbs. It is finely decorated with the most exquisite wavy brown-red lines.

Unfortunately this species is restricted to Southern Australia, where it is rare and only occasionally found by divers.

Cymbiola aulica Sowerby, 1824

156.5mm. Dinagat Island, Surigao, Philippines.

There was a time when this princely volute was very rare and admired, today it is readily available from fishermen in the Southern Philippines. However it will always occupy a special place among volutes, with its large, extremely elegant shell, decorated in deep red and cream patterns; specially when it reaches over the 6" mark.

Cymbiola innexa Reeve, 1856

127.3mm.Java. Indonesia.

When making a list of the most beautiful volutes, one would hardly think of C. innexa, with most shells having a brown, rather messy netting on warm gray background. Then I look at my shell and have to reconsider. This one is rosy pink, overlaid with a finely-drawn net of burnt orange, quite like nothing I´ve ever seen. A real beauty!

Cymbiola palawanica Doute & Bail, 2000

100.8mm. Palawan, Philippines.

This is just a stunningly beautiful shell, and the pride of my volute collection: It is over the 4" mark, with a very aesthetic, evenly-spaced, highly-contrasted pattern, and the added value that there´s black in it. Even regular two-toned specimens of palawanica are rare and highly priced by collectors. So a shell like this is a real treasure, and very rare beauty.

Cymbiolacca thatcheri McCoy, 1868

122.9mm. Chesterfield Is. New Caledonia

This species has always been rare, as it inhabits the remote Coral Sea, where it remained lost to conchology for very long. This specimen is not perfect, but nearly 5"; it is the largest one I´ve seen around. This species has a slender body whorl, with sharp spines. The coloration is pinkish cream, with a fine, faded red reticle; a subtle, very elegant color scheme.

Volutoconus bednalli Brazier, 1878

135.5mm. North Australia.

This is my favorite volute. The shell can vary from pure white to pinkish yellow, and can have a tall or moderate spire, which is always remarkably round. The surface is finely textured in a way that makes it appealing to touch. It has a medium gloss, and is decorated with dark spiral ribbons and wave patterns. Even damaged specimens of this rare shell are very attractive.