*Luscious large abalone leaf, abalone beads
*Pearls, faceted pearls, Chinese keshi pearls
*Sterling beads and findings
*Sterling leverback earrings
*Necklace is signed, numbered, dated

Length:  19" - 25" (48 cm - 64 cm)
Centerpiece:  2.5" x 2" (6 cm x 5 cm)
Weight:    4.5 oz (126 gm)

Earring drop length:  1.25" (3.5 cm)
Earring weight:  3 gm ea (a nickel weighs about 5 gm)

Please contact me if you do not want the earrings or if you need clips instead

Item #529 - Sold

Abalone Leaf Necklace and Earrings

Abalone Leaf Necklace
Hover to zoom, Click to expand

All abalone belong to just one genus, Haliotis, which has a fair number of species distributed around the world. Wild populations are seriously threatened due to over fishing and poaching. Today abalone farming provides the world market with meat and shell products. The color of the shells in this necklace suggest they are New Zealand H. iris (pāua). The right to harvest wild pāua is granted legally under Māori customary rights, though unfortunately poaching is common. Pāua farming is described as a burgeoning industry, so there is hope for protecting wild stocks despite the voracious human appetite for abalone.

Wiki's definition of abalone as "small to very large edible sea snails" hardly does this creature justice. Its thick shell serves as excellent protection against predators, and it's "foot" allows it to both move reasonably rapidly and to clamp down hard under its protective shell when threatened. The shell's unique structure is being studied for ways to improve the strength of ceramics including body armor applications because of its unusual ability to absorb energy without shattering. Finnish researchers have already developed a paper-thin reinforcing armor based on abalone nacre which can be painted on.

Most of the articles Google offers about the abalone relate to human uses. I had to delve a little more deeply to discover that the vegetarian abalone has primitive eyes on the ends of retractable stalks, long tentacles, and a tongue with rasp-like teeth which can be 1/3 of the animal's total length. Their nervous system does not include a brain. Because the animals are relatively sedentary, their shell often becomes home for other creatures and one article claimed that as many as 90 species of small gastropods have been found living on red abalone shells. And did you know that all abalone are hemophiliacs? This is the reason responsible sport divers measure the animals before removing them from the rocks to avoid harming undersized individuals.

Somehow we have arrived at the same point we arrived at in the last article I wrote on the Poppy Bouquet Necklace, namely how to account for the extraordinary beauty of these shells? We have learned the abalone is a brainless snail, highly prized for its meat; that it carries its cleverly armored home right along with it, that its visual system is primitive at best... and yet somehow the inside of its home is decorated beyond any sensible reason. Obviously the amazingly colorful interior doesn't help ward off predators, in fact it invites predation by man. Neither can the hidden brilliance attract mates. One can understand why the inside of the shell would be smooth and comfy but none of the evolutionary benefits we've mentioned seem to require over-the-top iridescent colors. (In fact, a little abalone goes a long way in jewelry, I added the abalone-colored freshwater pearls to this composition to avoid abalone burnout!) The abalone does not appear in The Medicine Cards but perhaps it deserves a place there. Abalone may be reminding us to observe something in ourselves which is beneath ego, a structural element but not a private possession; something originally true, good and beautiful. I hope you will order this necklace and enjoy contemplating the theme of inner beauty when you wear it.

By the way, the back of the leaf displays the natural carmel-colored shell. The three abalone beads have been laminated so they display iridescent colors on both sides.