“Since the color blue continues to be a big hit in both fashion and jewelry, abalone shell (or paua, as it’s called in some other parts of the world) fits the current color trend,” she writes. “And while this shell or mother-of-pearl material is oftentimes inexpensive—and has been fashioned into numerous entry-level-priced silver numbers in the past—some more recent, super-high-end and diamond-encrusted styles have appeared, making the material a candidate for newfound appreciation in the luxury market.”
Luxury or non-luxury, the shell’s swirling rainbow of colors gives designers a pop of eye-catching color to work with. A piece of paua shell wrapped in silver (or gold or base metal) is simply stunning.
Abalone is a mollusk, in the same phylum as snails, lobsters, and even squid. But its shimmery iridescent shell has made it prized since ancient times.
Paua, which is the Maori name for the abalone found in New Zealand, is the most sought-after type of abalone because it is thought to display the richest range of colors—from light blues and greens to deep purples. The Maori consider paua shell tonga, or sacred, both for the nutrition it provides and its beauty.
And so now we want to know! Four months into 2014, are you working with abalone? Have you seen more of it in the first few months of the year? Are customers asking for it?
Take our poll below and then click on results to see what your fellow jewelers think of abalone.
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