A capiz shell is the protective shell of a type of mollusk that is primarily used for decorative items such as window panes, lighting fixtures and kitchen utensils. Also known as windowpane oysters, these species of mollusk abound in Southeast Asia particularly in the Philippines, which is one of the world's largest producer and exporter of capiz shells. Its name, "capiz," was actually named after a province in the Visayas region of the Philippines where there is a large concentration of the mollusk.
This species of oysters, which has the scientific name Placuna placenta, are also found in the coasts of India, the Gulf of Aden, the Malay Peninsula and in China. The mollusk are known to inhabit shallow and sandy sea water up to a depth of more than 300 feet. They subsist on plankton, which they filter from the sea by letting the current pass through their shells.
Apart from decorative items and fixtures, capiz shells are also used as a component for manufacturing products such as shellac, glue, soldering lead and paint. The meat from farmed capiz shells, which has a high protein content, are used as an ingredient in poultry and prawn feeds.
The world's largest consumer of capiz shells include the United States, Japan and several European countries. The shells are rated according to its size and quality with shells reaching more 75 millimeters in diameter considered as first class and anything lower than 60 millimeters in diameter considered as fourth class.