DESCRIPTION: Abalone is an organic gem: it is not a stone. However, gem dealers and jewelers include abalone in the gemstone category because it is of natural origin.
Abalone comes from the shells of sea snails. The layer on the inside of the shell is mother of pearl called nacre. This inner shell is iridescent in a variety of species.
Archeologists have found abalone shells in sites around the world, even sites from 100,000 years ago. Native Americans harvested them as many as 12,000 years ago. The shells have been used for decorative items such as jewelry, buttons, and inlay.
Overfishing and poaching reduced the abalone populations in numerous sites so that today many countries have imposed bans on gathering, exporting, and importing wild-caught abalone.
Until the 1950s, divers pulled abalone from the seas. At that time, abalone farming began in Japan and China. The practice has now spread to other countries, and virtually all abalone now comes from commercial "ranches." Artisans and designers value abalone shells for their extensive variety of colors and iridescence.
USUAL ORIGINS: Abalone is found in chilly waters of South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Western North America, and Japan. There are seven species of abalone living in beds off the coast of California.
HARDNESS AND CARE: [Mohs Scale] -- 3.5 Does not resist scratches.
Abalone is unsuitable for rings or daily wear without highly protective settings. It is most suited for necklaces, pendants, earrings, brooches, or other design projects unlikely to undergo harsh blows or scratches.
Abalone can be cleaned with warm water and soap and then thoroughly dried with a soft damp cloth. Abalone pieces should be kept out of direct sunlight because their colors can fade.
COLORS: The iridescent inner shell of abalone displays scores of color variations, which are produced by the diet of the mollusk: blue, green, pink, yellow, orange, gray, and white are predominant colors.
METAPHYSICAL: * People who believe in the metaphysical properties of minerals and gemstones suggest that abalone brings calm, mental clarity, intuition, imagination, compassion, love, and emotional balance. Physically, it is associated with healing joint pain, muscle problems, digestion, and arthritis. It is also said to aid in detoxification as it helps to build physical strength.
* Bead Abode does not make any claim for emotional, mental, or health benefits. We provide metaphysical information for your interest and do not suggest or recommend the use of any gem, mineral or gemstone as an alternative to conventional medicine.