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Shell Species

New Zealand Abalone

Haliotis iris

Unique to New Zealand, this shell is harvested from southern coastlines home to great white sharks. Also known as blackfoot pāua, New Zealand Abalone is the most colourful abalone shell. Its iridescent nacre features various blues and greens with flashes of pink and purple.

Once discovered by free-divers in cold waters, these precious shells are loosened by hand. Most New Zealand Abalone divers wear data loggers to record their area of harvest, and quantities brought to shore are limited by the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) set by the Ministry of Primary Industries. This quota is updated annually with guidance from industry research groups to ensure sustainability.

About 30% of our New Zealand Abalone comes from the Chatham Islands. This particular environment creates softer shells with a stronger blue. Our Riverton studio processes over 200 tonnes of New Zealand Abalone shell annually – about 80% of New Zealand's harvest for this species.Designers have used New Zealand Abalone in decorative inlays for luxury homes and restaurants. Along with the shell, pearls from this species are featured in textiles and jewellery. New Zealand Abalone shell is graded on size, thickness, colour, and worm damage.


White Mother of Pearl

Pinctada maxima

In the remote shores of Northern Australia, the most treasured of the Mother of Pearl oysters thrive. These warm, crystal clear turquoise waters nurture and grow the sought after White South Sea Pearls. The lustrous pearly white colour of the shells reflects the pristine natural environment in which they are formed. When the layers of pure white nacre catch the light, the pearlescent qualities of this oyster allow the eye to see subtle pinks amongst the shells strong natural lustre.

The Pinctada maxima oyster is the largest and rarest of all the pearl oysters. The shells are either harvested from the wild under strict regulations or bred in a hatchery before being taken to the pearl farms. Most shells will have produced two or three pearls in their life time before they are harvested. This product has a strong story of sustainability - a valuable by-product of the pearling industry with no risk of over harvesting and exploitation. All our suppliers for this shell are members of the Pearl Producers Association which holds MSC certification on behalf of its licensees for the Pinctada maxima fishery.

After the global financial crisis in 2008 the demand for pearls reduced rapidly causing some farms to close, decreasing the shell harvest and availability by about 50%.

Australian White Mother of Pearl shells are sought after by jewellers, watchmakers, furniture makers, interior and fashion designers.

White Mother of Pearl shell is commonly used for Mother of Pearl buttons, Luméa shell veneers, shell tiles, jewellery parts and inlay blanks.


Black Mother of Pearl

Pinctada margaritifera

Sustainably farmed in the remote Tahitian and Cook Island lagoons, this black lipped oyster shell, with its lustrous peacock colouring, is bred to grow the world renowned mystical black pearls. Some would say it is the black beauty of the Ocean.

These shells begin their lives in a hatchery before going into the lagoons. Historically each shell underwent two or three seedings before being harvested, however a recent change in operating practices has meant most Luméa Black Mother of Pearl shells now only go through one seeding process before they are harvested. The resulting shells tend to be smaller and thinner, but still have the beautiful vibrant peacock colouring.

About 90% of Luméa Black Mother of Pearl shells come from Tahitian pearl farms. The pearl farms are nestled among the many atolls of Tahiti and the best shells are from the most remote Tahitian islands in the Rikitea group. These shells have to make a long journey in small boats to the main island for grading and export. The small Cook Island lagoon of Manahiki offers small quantities also.

Due to its neutral darker colouring, designers have used Black Mother of Pearl shells largely for interior decoration in the form of tiles and paneling and in the fashion industry for high-end jewellery or pearl shell buttons.

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