Friday, August 14, 2009

Abalone Shells

What are Abalone Shells?

Abalone Dyed Blue Shell Flat Rectangle

Abalone refers to the small to medium sized sea mollusks and snails, that have low and open spiral shells. The shells of abalone are oval in shape, with an iridescent nacre lining the inside. This beautiful colour variation and shine on the inside of the Abalone shell is what makes abalone shells desireable. Abalone shells have been popular for hundreds of years, due to their beautiful iridescent colours, used and prized in religious ceremonies. Abalone shells are also desirable as adornments, decorative items in jewellery, button and inlaid furniture. Abalone shells are harvested for both food and their shells, with some countries strictly regulating this practice, to prevent illegal activities. Some countries that harvest abalone shells include Africa, Australia, South America and the Orient.

Abalone Dyed Purple Flat Pear

Abalone shells are very popular in New Zealand and Australia especially in jewellery designs. The beautiful natural iridescent blue and green colour provides a great focus to any jewellery design, whether it is an earring, necklace or bracelet. The blue and green iridescent colour of Abalone shells is sometimes dyed to create an even more stunning effect. This dyeing process, if it is high quality, should set the colour within the shell so that it will not transfer onto any other beads or articles of clothing.

The natural abalone shell is becoming increasingly popular in North America, as more and more designers are mixing this higher end shell with sterling silver chains, sterling silver components, gold Vermeille and gold filled components, as well as semi-precious stones. This look is worn year round, with many designers and consumers no longer reserving wearing shell jewellery during the summer months. The more colourful and dyed abalone shells tend to be more popular in the summer months, and especially when combined with cruise wear and colourful summer dresses, either in the city or on vacation.

Click here for a great selection of shells available at Stones and Findings and get inspired to design with Abalone today!

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