Thursday, May 17, 2012


I gave the new graduate her charm bracelet watch right after the commencement ceremony.  About an hour later, she was wearing the timepiece at the brunch held to celebrate her and my nephew’s graduation.


The brunch’s setting was at a locally iconic, rustic wood fish shack right on Florida’s north Atlantic coast with a white heron perched nearby posing for photographs.
Both of the graduates’ families were incredibly exuberant, with happy boisterous chatter filling the salt air, as ocean waves lapped under the dock in front of the restaurant.  We talked about Florida’s coastal tropical beauty on the Atlantic and how it compared and contrasted to our homes in mega metropolis Chicago on Lake Michigan and naturalistic Big Sur California on the Pacific coast.
While we were waiting for our food orders, the conversation turned to the big blue abalone sterling silver ring I was wearing on my right hand.


I explained that my birthstone is pearl but that I had long ago become bored with ubiquitous strands of small, round white pearls. So I began wearing some of the almost infinite number of pearl variations including south sea, black, coin, Biwa, and abalone or mother of pearl.


Actually, mother of pearl also seemed blah to me for years until I viewed a Rolex chronograph with a strongly iridescent, almost bioluminescent gray colored mother of pearl dial.  I began re-looking at the distinct color and tone differences in MOP.
I became enamored with the Mexican abalone often featured in vintage Taxco silver jewelry.  White Mexican abalone’s luminescence seems to outshine most other white varieties.


Recently, I happened upon a brilliantly iridescent blue pearl bracelet in my jewelry box that I had purchased many years ago.  I originally thought that the pearls were from either the coast of Baja California or the Gulf of California
Then again, I thought, maybe they were just dyed. 
 I examined the pearls’ captivating blue brilliance more closely, I concluded that either the dye job must have been extra special or that there must be a mollusk with a blue shell.
In Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, mollusks produce extremely expensive blue pearls.  The brilliant blue-colored  pearls rival Australian black sea pearls.


Researching further, I discovered mollusks from New Zealand with seemingly glowing, inky blue-green abalone called Paua  (Haliotis iris)  by the Maori native peoples. Incredibly, Paua is produced in wavy patterns of glowing, luminous colors including azure and turquoise blue, hot fuchsia pink, blood red and opulent purple.
Each of the colors peculiarly induce soothing and tranquil feelings when I gaze at them. I believe that the combination of the wavy patterns combined with the luminescence produces the relaxed sensation. Paua is just right to wear to the beach. No wonder the Maori revere  Paua shell.
Māori Paua pieces are inexpensive, modestly priced under $50 for casual jewelry style sterling silver pieces, in a rainbow of jewel toned colors ranging from the blues to the pinks.  I have never seen Paua in a jewelry store but it is readily available online at many internet retailers.
Paua is manufactured into rings, pendants, and earring.  Abalone  has a hardness of about 2 so I only wear the rings on special occasions.
I doubt that a nice, quiet looking strand of white pearls would have been a conversation starter at the graduation brunch like my tranquil Paua deep blue sea abalone ring.


Note: Most of the abalone species discussed in this article are endangered due to poaching, overfishing or disease.
Pat for Jewelrystash
Here is the link to the New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries website about Paua

Here is a link to a blog about Mexican Sea of Cortez pearls:

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