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Natural Abalone Pearls from Pala International


  • Natural Abalone Pearls from Pala International

    A Historical Reprint from our Friends at Pala International
    Pala?s Featured Gems: Natural Abalone Pearls

    This month we feature something a little out of the ordinary?a local Californian/Mexican treat. Pala has found a new supplier of these ocean jewels and it has been exciting to see all the freeform shapes and iridescent colors nature can conjure up. Greens, blues, pinks, purples?oh my! These colorful metallic looking concretions spark in the viewer a wonder of formation and inspire design, as many shapes are personified or reminiscent of earthly objects. For instance, the featured piece below takes on the form of a hot air balloon or a tropical sea creature.

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    Water balloon. This 11.82-carat freeform natural abalone pearl measures 20 x 17 x 7 mm. (Photo: Jason Stephenson)

    Abalone shells were once completely legal to pry from the ocean floor. For divers, all it took was some scuba gear, some hardware, and a shark radar. Today most of these abalone species are becoming endangered and many restrictions apply on fishing. Fortunately most of the abalone taken from the sea are harvested legally, but an estimated 12% are poached illegally. Natural abalone are estimated to produce a pearl only in one out of 50,000 cases, and it can take as long as eight to ten years to form a pearl. Farm raised abalone can produce a pearl in a shorter, two-to-three-year period.

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    Watercolors. This group of natural abalone pearls shows the variety of sizes, shapes and colors available. (Photo: Mia Dixon)

    See this government website for current information on abalone.

    You can see more at, where you can sign up for their Gem News here or their Mineral News here.
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