Healing Crystals Co.

Abalone (Paua Shell): Complete Guide (Updated 2024)

a person holding an abalone shell

In this post, we reveal everything you need to know about abalone (paua shell), including its meaning, properties, uses and benefits. Let's get started!


Abalone are a type of mollusk found all around the world. Their shells are incredibly strong and they are believed to hold healing properties. This very soothing ‘bio-crystal’ (this means that the shell you see is not a stone, it has been made by biological organisms rather than minerals such as carbon or silicon) has a wonderful reputation, both in its physical and energetic properties. The following article will provide a complete guide on the abalone shell.

  • Introduction
  • What is Abalone
    • Abalone Pronunciation
    • Abalone Etymology
  • Where to Find Abalone Shells
    • Abalone Diving
    • Is Abalone Illegal
  • Abalone Shell Properties
    • Abalone Shell Metaphysical Properties
    • Abalone Shell Healing Properties
  • Benefits of Wearing Abalone
  • Abalone vs Mother of Pearl
  • Abalone Shell Color
    • Red Abalone
    • Green Abalone Shell
    • White Abalone Shell
    • Blue Abalone Shell
  • Types of Abalone Shells
  • Abalone Uses
    • Abalone Inlay
    • Abalone Beads
    • Abalone Shell Bowl
    • Abalone Shell Stand
    • Abalone Veneer
  • Abalone Jewelry
    • Abalone Shell Necklace
    • Abalone Shell Ring
      • Abalone Ring Meaning
    • Abalone Shell Earrings
    • Abalone Shell Bracelet
  • How to Use Abalone Shell
    • How to Polish Abalone Shells
    • How to Clean Abalone Shells
      • How to Clean Abalone Shells with Vinegar
    • How to Make Abalone Jewelry
  • How to Tell If Abalone is Real
  • Abalone Shell Near Me
    • Abalone Jewelry on Amazon
  • Abalone Shell for Sale
    • Abalone Price
      • Large Abalone Shells for Sale
      • Red Abalone Shell for Sale
    • Wholesale Abalone Shells
      • Abalone Jewelry Wholesale
  • Conclusion
abalone shell

What is Abalone

You may have heard of abalone before and it is sometimes mistaken for a stone. However, the abalone that looks and functions as a gemstone is not crystalline, it is actually the shell of a marine snail, or more specifically it refers to the various species of small to very large marine gastropod mollusks.

The inside of the shell is very thick, and in many of the species it appears as an attractive scintillating opalescent layer, known as nacre. It is highly iridescent and is widely used for decorative purposes as mother-of-pearl.

Abalone Pronunciation

Abalone (æbəloʊni) has various pronunciations as with any other animal found in multiple vicinities around the globe. Generally, it is pronounced with an open, flat "a-(like cat) buh-loan". 

Abalone Etymology

Other known names for abalone are ear shells, sea ears, sometimes mutton fish or mutton shells in Australia. In South Africa, it is called perlemoen, in New Zealand the Maori word is pãua, or ormer in the United Kingdom.

Where to Find Abalone Shells

These shells are found in Australia, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States and New Zealand, amongst a few other locations around the globe. 

Abalone Diving

Diving for abalone used to be common practice, but it has since been banned for the general public in most places around the world. Nowadays it is a dangerous practice, sometimes because of the tides and sometimes because of the competition due to it being in high demand.

Is Abalone Illegal

It is illegal to remove abalone from the ocean in most of South Africa, California and Australia where it is commonly found. Those who have licenses are bound by regulations such as the minimum size at which the mollusk may be removed, for example.

abalone shell colors

Abalone Shell Properties

Abalone shells are tough and hard, with a flat oval shape and a shimmering interior. The thick layer of shell and the added nacre are made from calcium carbonate stacks of protein which makes for an extremely durable material although it seems light and soft to the touch. The abalone shell is said to withstand the weight of a truck and last a hundred years.

Abalone Shell Metaphysical Properties

Abalone is a mysterious compound, produced gradually deep below, in spite of the rough tides of the sea. The vibrational frequency as a result is reported to be calming and harmonizing. It promotes one's intuition, clarity in one's perspective, sensitivity to oneself and others, which is extremely powerful for self-awareness. Abalone will cleanse the negative energy in any space after emotional or traumatic events, it relieves anxiety and aids in emotional balance. This is particularly helpful for those who may struggle with motivation.

In Native American cultures, the abalone shell is used as a smudge bowl to burn sage in. They believed that the abalone and sage together would carry their messages up to heaven. In the Apache culture, abalone is used in The Sunrise Ceremony, a ritual that marks a girl’s passage into womanhood. 

Abalone Shell Healing Properties

abalone bowl

Abalone is often used in cleansing rituals because of its proclivity to pure oneness and connection, or rather, divine connection. The crown chakra, third eye and heart chakra are particularly benefited by abalone. Using sage alongside abalone is reported to harness the vibrational frequencies of the ocean and channel your highest chakras in tune with divinity in order to achieve the following; anti-inflammatory properties which aids in skeletal issues, relief from muscle tension, arthritis, strengthening of the heart muscles, boosting of eyesight, helps to ward off allergies and other skin complications. 

Benefits of Wearing Abalone

Wearing abalone in the form of jewelry is reported to reduce mental clutter, promote a general boost in natural immunity and aids in proper digestion. The wearing thereof is also said to assist in the uptake of vitamin A and vitamin D. 

Wearing abalone in conjunction with certain stones may have additional benefits. For example, wearing abalone with lapis lazuli can help one become more comfortable with one's environment so as to promote a feeling of control; however, really all it does is calm and stabilize the frequencies. Other stones such as moonstone, calcite, aragonite, hiddenite and blue chalcedony have a similar effect when worn alongside abalone.

Abalone vs Mother of Pearl

Difference Between said it succinctly; “…the key difference between abalone and mother of pearl is that abalone is an organism whereas mother of pearl is the internal layer found in the shell of this organism.”   This basically means that the iridescent mother-of-pearl is found inside of abalone shells, and so where mother-of-pearl (or nacre) is only part of the abalone shell, needless to say, the abalone shell is the entire mollusk shell.

Abalone Shell Color

abalone shell

The color, shape and patterns on these shells are specific to each species of abalone; most commonly white/grey, hues of red or pink, yellow, green, blue and purple.

Red Abalone

The red abalone, mostly native to California, is reported to work along with kundalini energy in the body, also assisting in the manifestation of one's desires. This poisonous mollusk species is Haliotis rufescens, and usually has a lifespan of about 50 years. 

Shells that appear to have a more pink or orange hue have been said to be particularly calming and protective, which are from the same species.

Green Abalone Shell

Green abalone shell is commonly used for development of one's outer self. The species is Haliotis fulgens. Wearing this green pãua shell has been said to widen the perspective of the wearer, this is beneficial for maturity and a deeper understanding.

White Abalone Shell

Derived from the mollusk named Haliotis sorensi, the white abalone shells signify purity. Wearing white abalone assists in the cleansing of toxins. 

At times, the shell can appear a light grey, or off-white with specks of white. These shells have such depth and are ideal for harnessing the healing properties of abalone. When in need of motivation, or clarity during confusion, the abalone that are a more grey color are perfect.

Blue Abalone Shell

Blue abalone is said to have mystical influence on the bearer. It has been reported to boost courage, hopefulness and comes in a variety of blues and sometimes even indigo.

Types of Abalone Shells

On the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website alone there are many different identifiers for the various kinds of abalone species and their varying shapes, sizes, and colors. There are so many variations beyond just that area, so make sure to do some research to find just what you’re looking for when looking into buying abalone shells!

Abalone Uses

Although the abalone shell has powerful healing powers, you might also have seen it on a menu at a restaurant before — the mollusc that lives inside the shell is considered by many as a delicacy in the food world. It is also often used in the creation of jewelry pieces, due to the unique and beautiful colorful patterns that form on the inside of the shell.

Abalone Inlay

The inner part of the abalone shell is often used in the decoration of various inanimate objects, especially musical instruments as the reflective sheen of the shell complements the colors and patterns of wood. This craft has become quite popular and you can see many highly intricate designs on guitars, all done by hand! Keep an eye out for this beautiful art next time you find yourself near a musical instrument shop. 

Abalone Beads

The mother of pearl can be used to create small, flat beads. You may see that they often come either in a flat circular or rectangular shape. The more rare shapes that these beads come in include stars, triangles and a more natural irregular pebble shape.

abalone beads

Abalone Shell Bowl

There are many ways to use the shell of an abalone as a bowl. It works perfectly as a little trinket bowl, pop it on your dressing table to keep your jewelry in. As mentioned previously, this shell is also often used as a sage smudging bowl, as the Native American cultures have been doing for centuries. Some people also like to use the shell as a decorative ashtray.

Abalone Shell Stand

Handmade wooden tripods have become polarized as a stand for the shell to rest on and there are quite a few artisans making these today. You can find these stands for sale on the internet made from various types of wood pretty easily — have a look on Etsy if you are thinking of adding this to your collection! 

Abalone Veneer

Abalone veneer sheets are what are used to create inlays. These sheets are made up of many thinly shaved layers of the inner part of the shell, which are then glued together, one on top of another, and sanded down to create a flush and large sheet of beautiful metallic and iridescent patterns. These sheets can be used on glass to allow light to pass through, as the sheets are so thin, or the backside can be painted and then used for inlays on wood. If you are wanting to experiment with creating your own abalone shell inlays, try soaking the abalone veneer sheet in water overnight to soften it, which will make it easier to cut. You can use regular kitchen scissors or a craft knife to cut out shapes and patterns. 

Abalone Jewelry

This shell is making a huge comeback in the jewelry world due to its magnificent and mesmerizing iridescent shine. In the 1960s and 70s, jewelers started to incorporate this shell into their creations, as it was relatively inexpensive due to it being a by-product of the food industry. Its revival is thanks to the rebirth of 70s fashion as well as the beachy trend which has taken over catwalks worldwide. 

Abalone Shell Necklace

This shell can be found paired with inexpensive silver in a simplistic necklace form, but it has also been used by many famous jewelers next to diamonds and white gold. Necklaces which incorporate abalone shell range from a string of abalone beads to pendants and charms with abalone inlays. Sometimes an entire shell of a young abalone is used as a pendant, but this is quite rare to the legalities involved with taking out juvenile abalone from the ocean.

Abalone Shell Ring

The most common rings made using abalone have a piece of abalone set in silver, with intricate silver details around the shell and along the band. There are also more simplistic designs which have a band of abalone set in silver or tungsten, for example. There are also some more pricey rings on the market that have pieces of mother of pearl on them, an example of this is by the well-known jeweler, Bibi van der Velden, who created an 18ct white gold ring (see image on the right) with diamonds encrusted along the band and an accent of abalone shell on top.

Abalone Ring Meaning

This gemstone can sometimes be seen as a protective or evil-eye symbol. According to the Maori people of New Zealand, who refer to this shell as Paua, this shell is the eyes of warrior and demigod figures; which is why they use it in the creation of warrior artwork. The Apache nation of North America, believe that this shell carries woman through their transition from childhood to becoming a woman, protecting her and teaching her about the spiritual and healing powers that she holds in her divine femininity.

Abalone Shell Earrings

abalone earrings

Wearing abalone shell earrings is a beautiful way to frame the face and will bring out the color in your eyes, especially if you have green or blue eyes. You can find big discs, crescent moon or teardrop shaped hanging earrings. Studs incorporating various gems alongside abalone are also available and great if you prefer something a bit more subtle. 

Abalone Shell Bracelet

As mentioned previously, this shell is often linked to womanhood and being a powerful female. When wearing a bracelet with abalone shell, be sure to wear it on your left hand, as this is your Yin, or feminine side. This powerful gemstone will help to activate this feminine power which lives inside of you, whether you identify as a man or a woman.

How to Use Abalone Shell

Whether you simply want to use it as a decoration in your bathroom or work closely with this shell to reap the full benefits of its energetic healing powers, there is no right or wrong way to use this shell in your life or home. It is a wonderful healer, makes for a beautiful jewelry piece, looks great embedded in musical instruments and works well as a trinket bowl, so we would say that it most definitely is not a bad idea to add this shell to your life!

How to Polish Abalone Shells

When polishing or cleaning abalone shells it is imperative to wear the correct protective gear so as to prevent any harmful dust particles from entering your nose, mouth or eyes. We advise that you wear goggles, a respirator or dust mask and a pair of gloves. The inner part of the shell can be polished using car polish, using a soft cloth and a grape sized amount of polish to give it a glossy shine. If you can’t get your hands on car polish, spraying a coat of clear gloss over the shell will also do the trick to give it a nice smooth shine. 

How to Clean Abalone Shells

Start by soaking the shell in water to soften any dried up seaweed or growths on the shell, and then use a wire brush to remove these unwanted bits. Muriatic acid can be used to remove any excess build up on the outer part of the shell, but be sure to pour this over the shell far away from your home, on tar would be ideal, and be sure to rinse it well afterwards. The inside of the shell should also be covered with a layer of vaseline prior to pouring the muriatic acid over. Any growths or barnacles on the shell can be removed by using a hammer and a pick — but be gentle so as to not break the shell! For upkeep, the shell should be dusted regularly and can be rinsed in water every so often. 

How to Clean Abalone Shells with Vinegar

If you would prefer to go a more natural route and you are looking for an alternative substance to muriatic acid, vinegar will do the trick. Just be sure not to let your shell soak in a vinegar solution as the vinegar will begin to break down the calcium carbonate, which is what a large part of the shell is made up of, rather use the vinegar as a scrubbing solution and rinse your abalone shell thoroughly after doing this.

How to Make Abalone Jewelry

If you have a grinding and buffing wheel, a dremel and files on hand you can get started on making your very own piece of abalone jewelry today! Please note that the dust particles from the shell when being ground down are toxic to humans and animals when inhaled, so ensure that you have goggles, a respirator and gloves handy too. Grind it down, gently, to whatever shape you desire, give it a good buff and end off by polishing it with car polish or olive oil. Let it sit in the sun for a few hours so that the polish can be absorbed. You can now set this in any metal that you wish, or you can wrap it with wire or rope for a more rustic look. 

How to Tell If Abalone is Real

There is one quick and easy way to find out whether the abalone item that you have purchased is real or not. Take a small needle and allow the tip to heat up over a flame, gently attempt to pierce the shell with the needle — if it is fake, i.e., plastic, the needle will melt right through it and create a small hole, whereas if it is real the needle will not be able to penetrate the shell. 

Abalone Shell Near Me

These shells are found in various different locations around the world, including New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Mexico and Asia. Due to this shell not being endemic to a single region it is pretty easy to get your hands on at most jewelry shops near you. Phone around to double check if your local bead or trinket shop has it in stock before popping out to go and get your hands on this shell.

Abalone Jewelry on Amazon

There are over 1000 results on Amazon when one searches for abalone jewelry, so it seems that abalone jewelry is readily available and, lucky for you, most items come with worldwide shipping!

Abalone Shell for Sale

These shells are sold by many around the world, but just ensure that the shell has been obtained legally by doing a background search on the company that you are purchasing from. If you are buying it in person, ask the salesperson a few questions such as “where is this abalone shell from?” or “do you have any proof that this shell was obtained in an ethical and sustainable way that you could show me?” 

Abalone Price

The prices of the shell can range between $10 to $20, the animal inside is sold to the food industry for prices as high as $500 per kilogram, as it is extremely protected by marine conservation organizations and it is illegal to take it out of the ocean without the correct permit and is part of the reason why it is considered such a specialty. 

Large Abalone Shells for Sale

If you are looking for a large abalone shell have a look on eBay, Etsy and Amazon. The average size of an abalone shell is about 8 inches, so anything above this would be considered ‘large’. 

Red Abalone Shell for Sale

Etsy would be your best bet to find red abalone shells for sale. These, as mentioned previously, have a pinkish tinge to them. Ensure that you are buying from a reputable source and read customer reviews prior to purchasing.

Wholesale Abalone Shells

Abalone shells can be purchased in bulk, as a wholesale order, there are a few companies offering this. This is perfect for if you want to get started on your own little business involving abalone shells! The minimum order is usually around 100 shells. 

Abalone Jewelry Wholesale

Abalone jewelry can also be purchased at wholesale prices, it seems that the minimums range between 12-24 pieces at a time. Once again, be sure that you are purchasing from a reputable source and that the shells have been obtained ethically and sustainably. 


Whether you are wanting to decorate your home with an earthy and natural aesthetic or are wanting to work on your energetic centre, by boosting your self-confidence and realizing your divine femininity within, it can be concluded that abalone shell is the perfect shell to add to your home environment. This shell is mesmerizing and staring into the iridescent layers will also bring the calming feeling of the ocean right to you, no matter where in the world you are.

Did You Enjoy This Article?

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1 comment

Feb 14, 2022 • Posted by Jerrene Ellis

I bought a red abalone shell at Goodwill about 4 years ago. I just knew it was rare. The inside color is gold. Thank you so much for this article. I now know I have a kundalini shell that once held a poisonous mollusk. How very interesting!

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