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Tortoiseshell is a material produced mainly from the shell of the hawksbill turtle, an endangered species. It was widely used in the 1960s and 1970s in the manufacture of items such as combs, sunglasses, guitar picks and knitting needles. In 1973, the trade of tortoiseshell worldwide was banned under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).[1]

Tortoiseshell was attractive to manufacturers and consumers because of its beautiful appearance and its durability, and its organic warmth against the skin. It was used in guitar picks because it can be easily shaped, has excellent bending properties, and is very durable – tortoiseshell picks could sometimes be used for years. Pique work, jewelry made from tortoiseshell inlaid with precious metals in patterns or pictures, was made during the Victorian Era and was highly prized.

There have been a number of faux tortoiseshell materials developed since the 1970s, most of which mimic the appearance of tortoiseshell. Tortex is a material that was created to replace tortoiseshell guitar picks and has been widely accepted as a suitable substitute.

Source: Wikipedia

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