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A Brief History of Tortoiseshell Glasses

by Nick Nick Lee Swift (2024-01-10)

Tortoiseshell glasses have long been a symbol of hidden luxury, originating in exclusive circles of society in the 1920s and maintaining their enduring appeal. With a history tracing back to the 18th century, when the delicate material was integrated into fine art pieces, the use of tortoiseshell in eyewear became a hallmark of opulence and fashion. From famous figures like Jackie O, Steve McQueen, and Richard Gere, these timeless glasses have cemented their place in optical history.

Real tortoiseshell was used until 1973, when CITES – the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species – prohibited the practice. In response, manufacturers started using acetate instead.

At Myglassesmart, we take pride in collaborating with experts in acetate production. Colored granules are blended together, mixed with resin, cut into sheets, and then allowed to cure. Similar to waiting for a whiskey to mature to its peak flavor, this process cannot be rushed. The longer the curing period, the stronger the result.

The unpredictability of tortoiseshell acetate holds its own beauty; the patches of light and dark form a harmonious blend. Each mark is distinct from the next. Buy round tortoise shell glasses at Myglassesmart,.