The shell is renowned for its deep scintillating blue green and turquoise colours and is often worked into jewellery. The iridescent shimmering lining of certain shells is known as the Mother of Pearl, it is so named as it is used to seed cultured pearl. The spectacular lining and its ability to be easily carved into various shapes makes mother of pearl shell popular in the making of jewellery today. Mother of Pearl continues to maintain enormous popularity in jewellery design with beads of Freshwater pearl. |
Asian craftsmen for wood inlay boxes and carvings, also being worked into rings, pendants and earrings, have favoured it. New Zealand shell is sometimes referred to as the opal of the sea due to the depth of its colour. Abalone, found in the warmer waters around Australia and America is lighter in colour and generally pinkish and more like shell. Generally the northern shells are thinner than the southern shells and are mostly used for inlay work whereas the southern shells being thicker are used for jewellery work. The exterior of the shell is usually covered in hardened lime with the occasional barnacle but the inside of the shell shows its true colour.
For intricate style jewellery the inside colours of the shell are best and these can make lovely, shimmering pieces. These can then be saw pierced to the shape wished. A light sanding and polishing with a gritty household cleaner will produce a gloss that will last well, especially if the jewellery is worn next to the skin, as body oils will add to the lusture. A simple way of lacquering the piece is to use clear nail polish - four or five coats will give a relatively hard and lasting finish.