Ariki is inspired to create the finest jewellery using the unique and beautiful New Zealand Paua shell. All items of Ariki jewellery are plated in either 22ct gold plate or palladium plate (palladium is a derivative of platinum). All pendants are supplied with 18 inch (45cm) chain. Ariki’s jewellery findings are either stamped from brass or cast in white metal (white metal is a combination of base metals with a melting point low enough to allow spin casting). Ariki has also added a small 925 Sterling Silver collection.
The Paua shell
The shellfish (haliotis iris) used by Ariki, although part of the abalone family, is unique to New Zealand’s environmentally pure coastal waters. The Paua is renowned throughout the world not only for its beautiful shell but also for its edible dark, full flavoured flesh.
Maori and Paua
For many centuries the Mãori people (New Zealand’s indigenous race) have used the Paua shell for personal adornment and as ornamental inlay eyes for the carvings that decorated their weapons and meeting houses.
This is an image of an early mid 19th century Poupou (house side panel) of the Tūhoe people. From the Eastern Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.
Today the same opalescent blues, rich greens and luminous fiery flashes are used to create stunningly beautiful jewellery, worn with pride and panache by women and men throughout the world.
Paua is often referred to as the Sea Opal due to its blue/green colourings and the incredible swirls that create individual patterns on each and every piece of jewellery.
Protection & sustainability
Paua is protected by a quota system (to ensure that the resource is never depleted), making it a most sought after and precious commodity. Paua divers, dive for their quotas without the use of air tanks. There are twelve grades of Paua shell, with only the top grade being used in Ariki’s Paua shell jewellery. Some of the lesser grades of Paua shell are suitable for Ariki’s Paua shell souvenir and gift items.
Difference to other Abalone shells
Ariki’s Paua is harvested from areas renowned for their water quality, both pollution free and rich in minerals. Ariki Paua features an intense depth of colour – just one of the factors that separates the original from its imitators. The result is jewellery that truly reflects the magnificence and purity of New Zealand’s environment.
Preparing the Paua
The Paua shell, when harvested, is coated with a thick layer of marine growth and lime. The growth is removed to reveal the dazzling designs of nature in each shell. To complement nature’s own design, Ariki’s skilled craftsmen polish, cut and shape the best whole paua shells into “cabochons” ready for setting into superbly designed and crafted genuine paua jewellery that is in demand throughout the world.
Each of Ariki’s hand-crafted cabochons is unique in colour and pattern. Considerable time and effort is spent matching cabochons with complementary colours and patterns to create pairs of earrings and items such as bracelets that use multiple cabochons. This painstaking attention to detail is best illustrated in one of the Ariki butterfly brooches which contain four cabochons. Each butterfly is a magnificent piece, with its matching vibrant colours and swirls