Mother of Pearl

Mother of Pearl is known by many other names, Abalone (from Spanish Abulón) being the most popular one. Abalone shells are ear-shaped shellfish and are known for their colourful “pearlescent” character inside the shell. This is also known as ear-shell, ormer in Guernsey, and pāua in New Zealand. Mother of Pearl is also known as sea ears, and, sometimes muttonfish or mutton shells in parts of Australia, perlemoen in South Africa.

Mother of Pearl or Abalone shell not only makes gorgeous jewellery but it also has an interesting history and symbolic meaning and spiritual properties across different cultures.

There are lots of names for abalone shell as it can be found all over the world.

The ear-shaped shell of the abalone is also known as Mother-of-Pearl. It makes exquisite and deeply symbolic jewelry.

To learn more about the unique history and meaning of these shells across cultures, and its spiritual properties, read on. We’ll also give advice on how you can wear it and what you can pair with it for maximum impact.

Different Names

Abalone shells or Mother of Pearl have many names: Haliotis Iris, Paua Shells, Nacre, Mother-of-Pearl, Aulon, and Sea ear depending on what country you’re in; the Abalone shell is found in several distinct places and around the world, which explains its many names, derived from several languages.

Whatever you call it, there’s no doubting its exquisite beauty and individuality; no two abalone shells are the same.

Did you know that the Abalone shell is an organic gemstone, the same category as pearl and amber? But do you know how and where there stunning organic gemstones form and what spiritual properties they give when worn?


Abalone is actually a variety of sea molluscs or sea snail with feet and tentacles. The ear-shaped shells are made up of microscopic pieces of calcium carbonate, layered one on top of the other held together and strengthened by a protein material.

Abalone is a sea mollusc often used. in jewellery for its uniqueness and pearlescent shell.

They feed on kelp and other types of seaweed and depending on which seaweed they eat dictates the colour of their shell as they grow resulting in the rings you can see on the outside of the shell.

Abalone molluscs are able to self-repair minor damage which is often caused by people trying to remove them from the rocks. Indeed many believe that this is where their symbolism of healing and strength comes from.


At the last count, there were more than one hundred varieties of abalone worldwide. You’ll find them in cool, coastal waters in New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, North America, and Japan. Such is the beauty and popularity of using Mother of Pearl in jewellery that in Africa it’s a multi-million dollar industry.

As each one is unique, each piece of jewellery made with an Abalone shell is unique and in and under the light the shells can reveal an array of colours including greens, blues, pinks, golds, silvers, blues and purples. Their size varies too from a couple of inches up to 7 or 8 inches.


The Abalone shell has special meaning and spiritual properties in many cultures around the world.


The Maori people of New Zealand call abalone Paua. The shells, which are found in the coastal waters off of New Zealand are about five-7 inches and oval-shaped. The Maori people eat the meat from the shell and then use the shell to make jewellery and they also use it in their artwork as warrior’s eyes; contemporary artwork in New Zealand often features Mother of Pearl.

The Maori believe the Abalone shell strengthens the heart and body of anyone that wears it and as a result, they’re able to communicate their feelings more clearly bringing harmony to relationships.


In some Native American cultures, the shell of the abalone is used to burn sage as they believe the combined spiritual power of Abalone and sage carries their messages to their Gods.

It’s long been known that the smoke of the sage is used to cleanse evil spirits and the author Homer used to roll it up and smoke it to provide inspiration in his writing.

If you believe in the psychic powers of ancient organic gemstones, you’ll find the Abalone shell intriguing.

The Abalone shell can stimulate psychic development such as intuition and creativity. It can also improve your ability to express your emotions more clearly encouraging communication and cooperation with those around you both at home and at work.


The chakras said to be linked to the Abalone shell are the third eye, the crown, and the heart. These are all areas connected to intuition.


Many cultures think of the Abalone shell as a water symbol whose calmness and tranquillity protects us from life’s ups and downs.


The shell brings safety from harm and emotional balance and can protect the heart – it’s also said to boost the immune system and assist digestion and is used for its anti-inflammatory properties.


The Abalone shell is fertile, for its species. As a result, many people trying to conceive wear the abalone stone.


We all know how relaxing the sound of the ocean waves can be and the Abalone shell has been surrounded by water its entire life. So it’s thought that it can calm the mind and relax the spirit.


BECKY small oval post earrings (green)
BECKY small oval post earrings (green)

The Abalone shell makes an excellent gift. Many of the handmade jewellery on Elka London includes the organic Abalone shell, better known as Mother of Pearl.

Our DANNA and BECKY collections in particular features this semi-precious stone in all of its pieces including bangles, bracelets, rings, earrings and necklaces.