Abalone Shell

Mother-of-pearl from the nacreous lining of abalone shells has been used to make beads and ornaments since prehistoric times. Abalone is a marine mollusk of the genus Haliotis with worldwide distribution. Species native to California coastal waters produce beautiful blue- and green-hued iridescent nacre. Their shells were traded near the Pacific Ocean and then trekked by foot far inland, to the deserts and high plateaus of the Southwest in pre-Columbian times.

There the Anasazi and other Native American artisans cut abalone shell into thin disk beads and geometric pendants, and crafted inlaid and mosaic ornaments combining shell with other precious materials, such as jet and turquoise. Contemporary abalone shell beads and pendants made in the Philippines also often feature inlay and mosaic work.

The abalone produces pearls as well, usually small, in shades of blue to greenish yellow.

9/27/2009 : 9/27/2009 modified

Pendant with abalone shell.
Cas Webber