May 12, 2013

What is Abalone?

Gemstone Properties of Abalone
Abalones are an edible mollusk with shells that are incredibly beautiful with iridescent insides containing all the colors of the rainbow. It is soft and smooth to the touch as a result of the continual tumbling action of the sand and water. Abalone shell is not technically a gemstone but it is often used as such in jewelry, inlay, art, carvings, decorative home accessories, and metaphysical practices.

What sets abalone shell apart from other gemstones is that they are actually part of a living ecosystem. Abalone shells grow in the ocean where they have existed for thousands of years with their natural predators, providing a primary food source for sea otters. An individual abalone can live up to 50 years and grow up to 12 inches in diameter. The shells are made up of calcium carbonate and there are a number of different species that produce various colorings in their shells. Abalone is also known as mother-of-pearl, paua shell, ormer, awabi, ear shells, sea ears, and Venus ears.

Abalone stocks have been declining rapidly with certain species already being placed on the Endangered Species Act. Abalones are threatened with extinction due to over fishing, ocean acidification, and other anthropogenic causes. Collecting abalone from their natural habitat is illegal in many areas. The shells and jewelry we sell uses abalone that is ethically harvested from sustainable abalone farms.