Abalone Shell

mineralogy, history, and metaphysics

Welcome to the Abalone Shell page. Here, you will learn everything you need to know, including mineralogy, history, metaphysics, and more!







(Clarity, Peace, Compassion)

Characteristics of Abalone Shell

Abalone are marine snails belonging to the genus Haliotis, family Haliotidae, and are related to clams, oysters, mussels, and squids. The shells of abalone have a low, open spiral structure, and are characterized by several open respiratory pores that are aligned in a row near the shell's outer edge. The shells are exceptionally strong and are made of microscopic calcium carbonate tiles, which are stacked like bricks. Between the alternating tiles is a clingy protein substance which helps to aid in the animal’s defense. When the abalone shell is struck, the tiles slide against each other instead of shattering, and the protein stretches to absorb the energy of the blow. The abalone shell is roughly 3,000 times more fracture resistant than a single crystal of calcium carbonate, which is the mineral that makes up most of its bulk. Experiments performed in 1999, from the University of California- Santa Barbara, discovered that the mechanism behind its fracture resistance is in the polymer adhesive that holds the crystal tiles together. The discovery would go on to suggest a new kind of biological "rubber", and helped in explaining the exceptional strength of the “plywood-like structure” of the abalone shell. Using the findings, scientists and inventors worked hand in hand to create grand industrial research, building fibers that are simultaneously strong and elastically tough at the same time. Applications of such fibers included usage within textiles, ropes, construction materials, aeronautics, camping gear, as well as in certain biomedical applications, such as implant materials and prosthetics. Aside from their significance of use in various industrial capacities, abalone is sometimes found in the production of certain musical instruments, such as the guitar and ukulele. This is due to its incredible durability and heat resistant properties. The thick inner layer of the shell is composed of nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl, which can be highly iridescent and vary in color from silvery white, to pink, red and orange, to deep blue, green to purple. The color of the shell is distinguishable from species to species, which is thought to be a result of the animal's diet.

History and Cultural Significance of Abalone Shell

To this day, the extremely rich and flavorful meat of the abalone is revered as a culinary delicacy, and ranks among the world's most expensive seafood. It is considered an important food staple in cold coastal waters, where meat from the snail had once supplied early humans with vital proteins needed for survival. Interestingly, for at least 12,000 years, Native American foragers had harvested abalone at Channel Islands, California to such an extent that the shells in that area actually decreased in size as a result, and in 1997 all Commercial fishing of abalone species in California had been brought to a halt. Historically, the fossilized remains of iridescent abalone shell have been used as an ornament and gemstone for centuries. These shell remains have been found in archaeological sites around the world, ranging from 100,000-year-old deposits at Blombos Cave in South Africa, to historic Chinese abalone middens, as well as centuries old Native American jewelry and energy practitioner “smudge” receptacles.

Metaphysics of Abalone Shell

In certain Native American cultures, abalone shell is used as a proper receptacle for Sage burning etiquette, called Smudging. The abalone acts as an embodiment to the element of water, while the burning of sage represents the trinity of air, fire, and earth elements. Together, while burning the sage, the combination of these elements is said to cleanse a person or space of unwanted negative frequencies, relieving energetic burdens and creating a clean energetic space. Whereas, in traditional Chinese medicine, abalone shells have been said to have a cooling effect on the body and were once used to treat and alleviate pain, inflammation, and fevers. Metaphysically, it is said that abalone’s energy can be related to the heart and third eye chakras, bringing the wearer feelings of energy consistent with emotional healing, compassion, Love, and clarity. Physically, it is said to be associated with the healing of joint pain, muscle fatigue, and arthritis; as well as in aiding the body with detoxification and digestion.