The question has loomed for a few years now while crafting and selling in this medium. Vendor visitors and jewelry makers want to know :
What is the difference in Paua and Abalone?
Well, combined research proved very interesting today. I found out that the word abalone derived from the Spanish word “Abalun” and Paua from the New Zealand Maori word “paua“.
Abalone are sea snails, the marine Gastropoda mollusk. The inner shell of an abalone is made up of nacre or mother of pearl, which comes in a variety of colors. Paua is a member of the haliotidae abalone family which there are around 149 species worldwide. They are unique to the cold blue waters of the New Zealand coastline. Haliotidae Iris is the most common and best known shell, being black interior with colors of blue and green dominating. Other species include Lao silver or Queen and Virgin Paua. They are vegetarians and graze on seaweed.
These little gems live in coastal, rocky areas at depths of between 1 to 15 meters, and in case you have ever wondered, the holes on the outside are for breathing. They are considered treasured meat for the Maori people and essential for a good traditional wedding feast or celebration.
Here comes my favorite part. They are traditionally used to illuminate the eyes of their carvings and artwork, and the reddish colored shells were most prized for depicting the flashing eyes of the warrior.The use of Paua shell in all all manner of jewelry and sculpture true has become a distinctive feature of New Zealand artwork, symbolizing love, life, and flow. This makes it particularly good for those who work in water.
So essentially,they are one and the same, all part of each other. Thus is nice to know now, and maybe it will bring some treasured precision to a piece you have or may purchase in the future.
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