Thursday, July 16, 2009

Today's vintage jewelry word - Abalone

Abalone is a word which refers to the "pearly" interior shell-lining of a mollusk with the same name. It is frequently used for inlay - often seen as strips in bracelets and other types of vintage jewelry. There are a wide variety of shades of abalone, but a shade that is particularly prized is the small "green heart" abalone.

Abalone shell is found along coastal waters throughout the world. Due to environmental concerns, it is now illegal to harvest it in many areas, because of the dwindling numbers of abalone.

Most of the abalone that is used in jewelry making today is provided by commercial abalone farms. This has not always been the case though, and vintage jewelry made with abalone was more likely made from abalone collected in the wild.

To make jewelry with abalone shell, each shell must be broken, split open, and then cut and polished. After this process, it will show the varied blue-green-violet colors that make it so attractive for jewelry settings.

As with all types of stones used in jewelry, abalone has metaphysical folklore thoughts attached to it. Many people who do yoga believe that the many colors of abalone affect all of the chakras of the human body. It is also thought to be good for the heart and for cleansing fear, sorrow and other negative emotions.

It is easy to care for abalone jewelry. Since it is made from genuine shell, some care must be taken when wearing it, to protect it from hard blows, lest it may chip or crack the shell. As with any jewelry, always put it on after you have applied perfume, or hairspray, since these can be harsh on any gemstones.

After wearing, make sure to wipe it with a soft cotton cloth. Sunshine cloths are also wonderful to use, since many abalone jewelry pieces are set in sterling silver. You can used warm soapy water, if necessary, to clean any dirt or oils which may have accumulated. Once dry, store it separately from your other jewelry to protect it from any chipping of the shell. Never used harsh cleaners or chemicals to clean it, since this will damage the abalone.

Here are some examples of abalone shell used in jewelry. All items are for sale and you can click the pictures for more details.

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