2021 Update: Yes, we do plan on carrying Paua Shell beads again! They were almost here.. and then a backlogged freight snafu at the Seattle port forced them to be returned to sender... grrrrr...
Lovely mother of pearl beads and pendants (sometimes known as trocha shell beads, and often abbreviated MOP beads) are created from the iridescent coating (nacre) that lines the inside of mollusk shells. Choose from natural (untreated) golden mother of pearl beads, standard (bleached) mother of pearl beads, and occasionally, black lip shell beads and pendants (black MOP). Natural mother of pearl beads are made from mother of pearl that is naturally golden brown and has not been bleached to look white. Most mother of pearl beads and pendants on the market are bleached to maximize the nacre's delicate shades of white and ivory.
In caring for mother of pearl, be aware that alcohol will eat through the nacre, causing irreparable damage to the color and luster.
Mystics believe that mother of pearl stimulates intuition, sensitivity, imagination and adaptability, and helps with clarity in decision making. Mother of Pearl symbolizes faith, charity, and innocence.
Mother of pearl has been treasured in jewelry for many centuries. In Asia, ground mother of pearl has also been used as a medicine for thousands of years. Europeans began extensively harvesting MOP in the 1850's to make buttons, knife handles and jewelry.
The nacre that makes up mother of pearl is found in tropical Asian pearl oysters, freshwater pearl mussels from US & European rivers, and in the abalone of California (USA), Japan, and other Pacific regions.
Coral beads are made from calcium carbonate built up by the skeletal material left by dead members of coral colonies in the sea. Coral comes in a wide range of natural colors, but can also be dyed, providing even more options for jewelry applications. These semiprecious beads appears dull and matte when unfinished, but gain a beautiful gloss when polished. Coral is softer, more fragile and more porous than other gemstone materials, so store it carefully to avoid scratches and blows. Cosmetics, chemicals, hot water and bright sunlight can damage coral jewelry components. To clean coral beads, wipe them gently with a moist soft cloth.
Although some research shows that jewelry coral does not come from endangered reefs, we find this research dubious due to the fact that many types of formerly plentiful coral, are no longer seen on the market. We do not actively purchase new coral beads, but occasionally run across old stock that we buy and add to our website.
White coral beads (Limited Stock / not always available) are cut from bamboo coral and are most likely bleached to achieve maximum whiteness. Since coral is softer than other gemstones, these semiprecious beads should be stored carefully to avoid blows and scratches. Cosmetics, hot water, chemicals and bright sunlight can damage coral. To clean these white coral beads, wipe them gently with a moist soft cloth. Coral is said to calm and improve life, protect children, and help difficulties of the lungs and digestion. It's also said to help restore harmony in the event of emotional conflict, and to work against nutritional deficiencies, depression, and lethargy.
Apple coral beads (Limited Stock / not always available) are cut from stabilized red sponge coral. Like all sponge corals, apple coral features visible pores (like a sponge) when polished. While apple sponge coral is naturally a dark brick red, red dye is sometimes added to the stabilizing resin when these semiprecious beads are made. These coral jewelry components might lighten with exposure to heat or extended direct sunlight. Coral is among the most ancient of gemstone materials, used for adornment since prehistoric times. Coral inlays and ornaments have been found in Celtic tombs from the Iron Age (500 B.C.-400 A.D.). In ancient China, red coral was a symbol of wealth, favor and high social status. Coral is one of the seven treasures in Buddhist scriptures, and Tibetan lamas make rosaries with coral beads.
Peach bamboo coral beads (Limited Stock / not always available) most likely achieve their quintessentially pleasant and peachy coral hue from an oil dye applied to natural bamboo coral. Bamboo coral grows in segmented branches that resemble bamboo stalks, with beige or light brown sections covering a black underlayer. Be sure to check these dyed semiprecious beads for colorfastness. We recommend washing the beads in warm soapy water, then blotting them dry with paper towels. Repeat until no dye transfers from the gemstone beads to the paper towels. Coral is among the most ancient gemstone materials used for adornment, and coral beads are an important component in Tibetan rosaries.