What is Paua ?

Unique to New Zealand 

Paua is a species of abalone  (Haliotis Iris)


Paua Te Koha a Tangaroa The Gift of the God of the Sea

           Paua is unique to New Zealand. The most colourful species of Abalone. 

Regarded by New Zealanders past and present as a taonga or treasure. Maori legend has it that paua was a special gift from Tangaroa, the God of The Sea. It is unique to New Zealand, that lives on the rocky shoreline all around the coast, but grows best in the waters of southern NZ. This marine mollusk eats seaweed and lives clinging to rocks at depths of 1-10 meters, normally along the shoreline. Paua Shell is the most colorful of all the abalone shells. Most other abalone are pale in comparison. 

Rei Jewellery exclusively uses gem quality, natural paua shell when creating our designs.

natural paua - The Most Colorful Shell


There is no other shell in the world that has the colour like Paua Shell colour that varies from greens & pinks to purples & blues and even some shells with gold or crimson tonings. The vibrant changing rainbows of colour that you see as you move this piece of jewellery, is the real natural colour of paua shell. No dyes or artificial colours.

Exclusively using gem quality, natural paua shell, design by Ray Fransham reflects the unique blend of cultures that makes New Zealand special. 


Iridescent Colour

The colour in the paua shell changes when viewed at different angles. This iridescence, similar to that of Mother of Pearl shell, but far more brilliant, is what makes paua shell so amazing as a gem material for use in jewellery. It is truly one of nature's marvels. Each shell is different in it's colour tonings, and in the patterns within the shell. The black patterns in the shell come from  layers of protein  that are laid down between  the layers of calcium that make up the shell. The brilliant colours are from light being refracted within the crystal layers. The same effect that the iridescent colour found in Opals.

Environmentally Sound

The paua fishery is properly managed is a sustainable way. There is a quota management system and strictly enforced regulations controlling the size of paua taken. The paua divers can only free-dive to pry paua off the rocks. The use of air tanks is prohibited. So although paua stocks have been depleted, the sustainability of this natural resource appears ensured.  The shell is a byproduct of catching paua for their meat. By purchasing a piece of paua shell jewellery you are increasing the value of this resource and helping ensure that it continues to be a managed in a sustainable way.

A Treasured Delicacy

Paua meat is a traditional delicacy for the Maori. Essential for a good wedding feast or celebration. Although it is harder to find that it used to be, most New Zealanders would rate paua up there with oysters as their preferred shellfish. These days most paua meat is exported to Asia, where abalone has always been regarded as one of the supreme delicacies.

A Traditional Taonga

Paua shell was traditionally used by Maori to illuminate the eyes of their carving and artwork. The reddish colored shell were most prized for depicting the flashing red eyes of the warrior. The use of paua shell in all manner of jewellery and sculpture has become a distinctive feature of New Zealand artwork.

A Natural Marvel

Rei Jewellery  uses only the highest quality paua shell. The gem quality shell only comes from the oldest paua with the thickest shells. We select the best colour shells and carve and work them with silver into jewellery that shows paua for the beautiful material that it is. Each shell has a different colour range, which makes each piece of jewellery unique.

Each of these is from photographs of natural shell.

Natural Paua

Rei Jewellery  utilizes only natural paua. We use no colour enhancers, dyes or plastic resin coatings, like some manufacturers who use thin young paua shells. The amazing colour of the paua shell in Rei Jewellery is totally natural. We just polish the shell to it's maximum  luster to let you see the true play of colour within the shell.

Rei Jewellery Ltd. ,  P.O. Box 20057, Hamilton , New Zealand , Tel: 00 64 7 829 4849 ,  Fax: 00 64 7 829 4730 , e-mail:  enquiries@reijewellery.co.nz

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