Shell Button NecklacesSee all questions about commodity
Another great question- I’d always wondered what these iridescent purpley-bluey-green-y shells were called!
Paua is the maori name given to 3 species of large edible sea-snails- who’d have thought! The most common of these is the ‘Haliotis Iris’- otherwise known as just paua (the other two; Queen Paua and Virgin Paua). They’re only found in shallow coastal water, in depths of 10 meters.
They’re quite the thing in New Zealand and Australia, gathered recreationally and commercially for souvenirs, jewellery and for food. But their distinct shimmer (achieved by polishing), means strict catch limits are placed on them; a fisherman can catch 10 paua a day, each measuring a minimum of 125mm. Apparently, the Ministry for Primary Industries fishery officers can inspect them at any point!
They’re recognised as a national treasure- their black muscular foot is considered a delicacy- in recipes such as this- http://www.radionz.co.nz/collections/recipes/fried-paua. Mmmm…
It’s their highly polished forms which makes your necklace so great at catching the light and it rainbow-like shine. In-fact, Maori’s have used them for centuries to represent eyes and stars on their intricate carvings, for exactly this reason. It’s clearly a timeless accessory, with a fantastic natural heritage to be treasured!