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As you probably know, the earliest known pieces of jewelry made by modern humans and identified by scientists are three shell beads between 90,000 and 100,000 years old; two of the ancient beads come from Skhul Cave on the slopes of Mount Carmel in Israel, and the other comes from the site of Oued Djebbana in Algeria (source: http://news.bbc.co.uk). Since then shells are in jewelry makers' use, and one of the best is abalone shell.
The abalone shell has been coveted for centuries for its iridescent glimmer and natural decorative patterns. Early civilizations all around the globe showcased the shell for its ornamental beauty - from the Native Americans of the United States to the Maori of New Zealand.
The one-piece abalone shell, which is round or oval, sometimes resembles a flat ear shape, leading to abalone's nickname "ear-shell", it has holes just on the rim of the shell. There are about one hundred different abalone varieties, including the exquisite paua shell. Abalone is a member of the same mollusk family that includes clams, oysters and mussels.
Prized across all continents, abalone shell shimmers in a palette of soothing sea shades, including blue and green. No two pieces of abalone shell are exactly alike, giving each piece of jewelry a unique beauty that can't be duplicated. A true treasure of the sea, abalone shell adds a mystical beauty to jewelry designs. It is believed that abalone shell aids in creativity and strengthens the heart by cleansing fear, sorrow and negative energies.
Abalone is ordinarily found in the cold ocean waters of several regions, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan and parts of the Western United States. Farming and harvesting of abalone began in Japan and China in the late 1950's and early 1960s. The practice has grown and spread worldwide, including to the United States, Mexico, South Africa, Ireland and Iceland.