Good story, nice pics and congratulations on your new shell shoe wardrobe. Post a photo of those strands up when you get a chance. Pictures outdoors are also much better at showing shell's patina, if you are interested in doing that.
My approach with new shell is to use nothing but a brush for the first 3 months, since the shell has so many waxes, and AE puts wax on top of that. I usually brush for about 15 minutes per shoe after each wearing, and wear them only on carpet for a few wearings. This makes sure they fit right and gives the soles a chance to break in to your foot before you grind the toe down on concrete.
When it comes time to add some wax, I use saphir renovateur if I am trying to keep the same color or a bit of kiwi burgundy or black wax if I don't mind making them darker.
AE's cordovan cream is a good product too, but I only use that (and very sparingly!) after the shoes are a year + old.