Blue polished abalone shell (haliotis fulgens)
Abalone are mollusks having one-piece shells. They belong to the genus Haliotis , which means "sea ear". They are rounded or oval with a row of respiratory pores along one side. The abalone clings tightly to rocky surfaces and must be pried loose. There are many types: black, flat, pink, green or blue, pinto, red, threaded, and white. Most of the abalone meat is exported to Japan and California. The entire flesh is edible. The primary use for abalone shells is in making inlays on furniture and quitars. They are also sold to shell collectors and are used in making jewelry.*
All of our abalone comes from Mexico. In order to export the abalone shell into the United States a permit is needed from the National Institute of Ecology of Mexico City. This permit is issued for a six month period. To import the abalone into the United States, a permit must be obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department. This permit is issued for one year.
For jewelry, each shell must be broken, split, cut, and polished before it shows the varied blue-green-violet colors that make it so attractive for jewelry settings. The white shell or mother-of-pearl comes from fresh water clams, as does the pink or cafe colored shells. These shells come from various rivers and are similar to the mussel shell used by American Indians. Some of the shell, usually small pieces, is set in expoxy (resin), which is usually dyed black or white. All our jewelry is made and crafted by hand, therefore, no two pieces will be identical.
For more information on abalone see farmed.
*Reference: University of California, Davis, Seafood Publication
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