The Unique History and Meaning of Abalone Shell

The Unique History and Meaning of Abalone Shell

The Unique History and Meaning of Abalone Shell

Not only does abalone shell make stunning jewelry, but it also has an interesting and unique history and meaning. Learn about them here. Then you'll have something to chat about the next time someone compliments your stunning jewelry!

Keyword(s): abalone shell


There are lots of names for abalone shell as it can be found all over the world.

The ear-shaped shell of the abalone is also known as Mother-of-Pearl. It makes exquisite and deeply symbolic jewelry.

To learn more about the unique history and meaning of these shells across cultures, and its spiritual properties, read on. We'll also give advice on how you can wear it and what you can pair with it for maximum impact.

Let's take a look.

Abalone Shell Gemstone

Abalone shells have many names: Haliotis Iris, Paua Shells, Nacre, Mother-of-Pearl, Aulon, and Sea ear to name a few.

It is found in several distinct places and cultures around the world, which explains its many names, coming from several languages.

Whatever you call it, there's no doubting its beauty. They are also fantastically individual - no two abalone shells are quite the same.

It is an organic gemstone, the same category as amber and pearl. But how and where do these organic gemstones form? What is their symbolic significance, and what spiritual properties do they give when worn?

We are going to explore these questions in turn.

Abalone is a Sea Mollusk

Abalone is a variety of mollusks or sea snails with feet and tentacles. Its ear-shaped shells are made up of microscopic pieces of calcium carbonate, stacked one on top of the other, almost like tiny Lego blocks.

Each of these brick-like layers has a clingy protein material between them. This adds to the exceptional strength of the abalone shell.

How Do They Form?

Abalone Palm Tree Pendant

Abalone mollusks grow by feeding on seaweed such as kelp. The different varieties of seaweed create different colors in their shell as they grow.

The concentric rings you can see on the outside of an adult abalone shell are evidence of the changes in the seaweed diet of the mollusk.

Abalone mollusks can repair minor damage to their own shells. This might be caused by otters or even humans trying to remove them from rocks.

Perhaps this is where Mother-of-Pearl's symbolism of strength and healing comes from. Not only exceptionally strong, but the abalone shell is also exceptionally beautiful and deeply symbolic.

Where Are They Found?

There are over a hundred varieties of abalone worldwide. They are generally found in cold, coastal waters such as those of New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, the West of North America, and Japan. In Africa, it is now a $35 million industry.

Those mollusks with vibrant, iridescent shells are the most popular for use in jewelry. Turning these shells to the light can reveal many hues, from turquoise, peacock green and blue to rose pink, purple and gold shimmer.

Abalone shell can vary from a few inches to seven inches in length. This means that jewelry coming from the shells varies in size and shape.

The uses of the abalone might surprise you. It is used as an inspiration for makeup palettes, wedding themes, in tiles and laminates in home decoration.

The iridescent colors and deeply spiritual meaning bring special attributes to the homes decorated with it.

Do Abalone Mollusks Make Pearls?

Abalone can form pearls, and these can be made into jewelry. They are exceptionally rare, so it is very lucky to find abalone pearls.

They form in the mother-of-pearl shell, at the edge of the shell or in the gut. Only one in several hundred abalone mollusks will form pearls.

The most common use of the abalone shell is for jewelry and gifts.

One thing is for sure. You shouldn't wear this original gemstone jewelry without understanding its spiritual significance.

Cultural Significance of the Shell

The shell has special meaning in many cultures and has spiritual properties. Let's look at the spiritual histories of the abalone shell.

Maori People, New Zealand

The Maori people of New Zealand call abalone Paua. It can be found in the coastal waters off of New Zealand.

Paua shells are usually about five inches and oval-shaped. The Maori people eat the meat of the shell, which is a Maori delicacy. They then use the shell to make jewelry and other special gifts for trading.

The Maori people used this shell in warrior artwork. They would use it as the eyes of these warrior and other demi-God figures.

Contemporary art in New Zealand still incorporates these spiritual shells into their craft.

They believe the shell strengthens the body and the heart of the wearer. With a stronger heart and body, the person is thought to be able to communicate their feelings more clearly.

The Maori believe the Paua will bring connectivity and harmony to relationships.

The way the colors of the shell shift in the light is also a symbol of change and transition in Maori culture.

Perhaps you have had a big life change and found this article for a reason. Abalone jewelry might be the symbol to represent the change, and to protect you in the next phase of your life, as it does for Maori people.

Native American Cultures

In some Native American cultures, the shell of the abalone is to burn sage.

They believe the combined spiritual power of abalone and sage would take their messages to their Gods.

The smoke of the sage is used to cleanse evil spirits. This is used in modern-day cleaners also, which we explore later.

Apache Nation, North America

There is an Apache story that explains the significance of this shell in their ancient culture.

The Apache nation believes there is a connection between the shell and the first woman - known as White Painted Woman. She is also known as Esdzanadehe or Changing Woman. She survives a flood in the shell of an abalone.

As the floodwaters recede, she walks the land. She is impregnated by the sun and has a son. This son becomes the Killer of Enemies, protecting her from evil.

She is later impregnated by the rain and births the Son of Water. At the end of the White Painted woman's life, she walks east until she finds her young self. The two merge, and in this way, she is born over and over again, through endless generations.

This is why the puberty ceremony for Apache girls - the Sunrise Ceremony, involves the shell of the abalone. It is a symbol of their new womanhood fusing with previous generations of the White Painted Woman.

The shell is a way through which apache girls connect to their spiritual heritage.

They wear the abalone shell on their forehead during the puberty ritual. The abalone power teaches the girls of their spiritual power as women, and their ability to heal, as they 'become a woman'.

New Age Spiritual Meanings

If you believe in the psychic powers of ancient organic gemstones, the abalone stone has much to offer.

It can stimulate psychic development such as intuition. It can improve your ability to express your emotions with clarity. this can encourage cooperation with those around you at work and in your personal life.

Perhaps your work or family life is stressful at the moment. The shell gemstone will attract tranquility and clarity of mind.

Many swear by its ability to help us work through emotional situations, be they now or things that happened far in our past or past lives. Let's look at other meanings and uses of abalone stone or shell.

Connecting to Chakra

The chakras linked to the shell of abalone are the third eye, the crown, and the heart. These are areas linked to intuition, that harmonize with the intuitive properties attached to the shell of the abalone.

Cleansing Rituals

In cleansing rituals, it is believed that holding onto the iridescent shell of the abalone increases feelings of purity. This deepens the effect of the spiritual cleanse.

These rituals involve the burning of sage to clear negative energies from within, or from a specific space. Couples and families can do these rituals to cleanse a space in their household after an argument or when they move to a new home.

The smoke from the sage is thought to clear the bad energies and bless areas with a positive light.

A Symbol of Water

Many cultures think of the abalone as a symbol of water. Its calmness and tranquility protect us from life's unsettling passions.

To wash away any unpleasantness and shield us from the darkness.

A Way to Heal and Protect

The shell of abalone looks like a kind of shield. It's no surprise then that it has protective and healing qualities. 
It brings safety from harm and emotional balance. It can protect the heart - in the physical and metaphysical aspects. It also is said to boost the immune system and assist digestion.

It can is used for anti-inflammatory properties. It assists with joint disorders, cases of arthritis, and even skin flare-ups.

Fertility and Motherhood

The abalone mollusk is fecund - or fertile, for its species. As such, many people trying to conceive or wanting to guarantee the health of a new child or grandchild wear the abalone stone.

The fertility aspects can bring wealth, abundance, or new opportunities at work. The shell has been used as a sort of currency in many native cultures.

For new mothers, what better gift than the mother-of-pearl? It can provide much needed emotional, physical, and mental support to new moms. It can remind a new mother of the extraordinary act she carried out in creating and nurturing of an individual spirit.

To Calm Us

The relaxing sound of the ocean waves has surrounded the abalone during its entire life. It is thought that these waves of relaxation transit to the wearer of the abalone shell.

As such, it can calm the mind and relax the spirit.

There are those not attuned to its psychic attributes. Holding the shell and admiring its natural beauty alone can remind us of the everyday miracles around us.

It can be a reminder to take stock of what we have and to appreciate and celebrate it. When we are going through troubling times it can be a reminder of the inherent peace in nature that we can connect to if we choose to.

The abalone stone can remind us of the uniqueness of each of us. It can help us to tolerate the imperfectness in each of us, and in each of our personal relationships.

As a Power Boost

By improving our power to communicate our emotions clearly, this gemstone can be used as a symbol of empowerment and feminine power.

It has protected the soft core of the mollusk. It can protect the more sensitive aspects in us. Projecting an image of strength and beauty to the outside world.

As a Magical Gift

The abalone stone is an excellent gift. The Maori people believe it can bring luck, peace, and prosperity to the person wearing it.

Perhaps the wearer loves water, and the abalone shell can be a special reminder of the sea.

Abalone JewelryWearing Abalone Stone Jewelry

Iridescent abalone sea shell flatters warm and cool skin tones alike. They change color every time they are viewed in a different light which is certainly part of their charm.

It means they can be paired with almost any outfit. It is exquisite when paired with other ocean gemstones.

The rich cultural and spiritual significance of abalone makes it a conversation starter all over the world. Why not find a big statement piece like a chunky necklace pendant.

You can wear it alone or with simple earrings. Many women in public speaking, therapeutic, or teaching roles wear a piece like this to strengthen them and assist them to be more articulate.

Not unlike the way the Maoris used its spiritual powers for millennia.

The shell shows up best nestled in silver, platinum, or natural fibers. It can also be nested in rose gold or gold - it all depends on the coloring of the wearer as to which metal will work best.


Bring This Spiritual Gemstone into Your Life

When the waves of life toss us about, our abalone shell jewelry can be a reminder.

That we can create special and meaningful things even in turbulent times.

It can be a healing and inspiring gift to give to someone we love, or to ourselves.

Look at the many options of abalone stone jewelry on our products page, and at the designer metals, you can pair it with for maximum effect.

Bring this spiritual gemstone into your life and see it's power today.

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