Spiny oyster beads come in vibrant red, orange, yellow, and/or purple. These semi precious beads also offer great textural elements for designers. They are frequently cut into heishi beads. Spiny oyster shell is more formally called spondylus brodnip princeps, and is found in the Sea of Cortez off Baja California, Mexico. Spondylus is a Latin word meaning "spines on its back." Brodnip is the name of the scientist who traveled with Cortez on his exploration of Baja California. This semi precious stone was used in jewelry even before coral. It was the shell most loved by the Mayan people, and has been found in abundance in archeological excavations of the Anasazi, Mogollon and Hohokam of the Southwestern USA. In 1976, Native Americans of the Southwest began to export purple spiny oyster shells for jewelry making, popularizing this gemstone abroad.