Mother of Pearl Art and Industries- An Innovators' Tale

It takes courage and a touch of creative intelligence to integrate the use of natural products like mother of pearl in art pieces, jewelry, and even modern equipment items intended for mass production.

The use of shell pieces inserted in wood goes back 2000 years. The Korean art of Najeonchilgi pioneered the use of colourful feathers cut from seashells for wood inlay. Highly ornate decorative designs can still be found on furniture and jewelry boxes at the Busan Museum of Art - South Korea.

In the last 20 years, the manufacture of shell veneer sheets has simplified the art of shell inlay, sparking diverse & innovative applications worldwide.

As a supplier of semi-processed shell materials including shell veneers, tumbled shell pieces and polished whole shells, it is always fascinating to receive enquiries for new creative projects.

Passionate artists, craft artisans and specialist manufacturers have a thing in common in their quest to capture the beauty of shell: they much prefer using a natural product that would otherwise have gone to waste, even if time, hard work and financial resources are required to make it happen. Their instant reward is a strong, natural point of difference!

In this update, we are showcasing some of the creations made possible by the colourful iridescence and the unique beauty of every single piece of Mother of Pearl. May this be an inspiration to you...

High Tech Digital Mobile Listening with Pāua Inlay

Who would have thought? Some of the latest wearable digital technology has embraced the mother of pearl inlay for subtle embellishment. Feedback has been enthusiastic from early adopters of this device... a well deserved point of difference for our friends at Earmicro .

Tech Device with Abalone Paua Veneer Inlay
Abalone Inlay In Small Device

3Dimensional Mother of Pearl-Pāua Art

Jo McPhee has mastered the use of Pāua Rims and other shell pieces for 3D wall art. Jo is one of the few who can see the value in this part of the shell. New Zealand Abalone Pāua is a regular source of new ideas in Jo's art.

A Touch of Luxury in Jewelry and Watch Making

Mother and pearl and Pāua shell are a traditional feature in watch making an fine jewelry, but for the tradition to survive, constant innovation in design is needed to embrace modern styles and trends. With every piece of seashell having its own personality in shape, colour and iridescence, uniqueness in every new creation is guaranteed.

Abalone Paua Jewelry- New Zealand
Silver Paua Ring- Geoff Taylor NZ
French Jewelry With New Zealand Abalone Paua Pieces
Arc En Ciel Lionnel Aubert

Fashion Jewelry Captures 3D Effects in a Flat Shell Veneer Piece

Much easier to work with and immensely versatile with laser cutting, Mother of Pearl veneer shapes open up the use of tints as well as natural colours. Fashion jewelers provide a large range of pieces offering a select "look and feel" to a more casual group of jewelry seekers.

White Mother of Pearl Veneer Jewelry
White Mother of Pearl Veneer-Fashion Jewelry

"Casino" Pool Cues with Pāua Shell Veneers a Real Hit Among Customers!

Meucci Pool Cue company USA had the vision to create a special range in their collection, featuring resin cast Mother of Pearl Veneers inserted in the cue. It wasn't a walk in the park, as the Meucci manufacturing team had to invent their own process with a top quality result in mind.

Abalone Paua Inlay in Pool Cues
Meucci pool Cues With Resin Cast Pāua

Mother of Pearl in Furniture Inlay...Sometimes it Pays to be Bold.

While most of the Western World prefers a very subtle approach to furniture inlay, just adding an accent to their choice of solid timber, Italian designers are not afraid to step out with a more flamboyant style. This white mother of pearl grand piano was a sensation at the Milan Furniture Salon, July 2022, an adventurous choice rarely seen in Europe.

White Mother of Pearl Grand Piano
Paua Veneer Inlay in Coffee table
Garth Matherson Furniture Inlay

Pāua Shell Pieces and Pāua Veneers for Catchy Lures!

Some are cut directly from the raw shell, using the natural curve as a fishing "Spoon", others use flat shell veneer cuts added to the "Body" of the lure. Ironically the shell, normally a prey to other sea creatures, returns to the sea as a powerful instrument to predation...

Paua Shell Sheet In Fishing Lures
Keenaz Lure with Veneer
Fishing Lure Cut From Paua Shell
Mark Flesch Lure Cut from the Shell

Maori Art Honors Pāua Shell as Traditional "Kai Moana": Sea Food, and for its Natura Beauty, Unique to the New Zealand Abalone.

Pāua played an important part in coastal traditions, from food source to early and modern Maori Art. Hard Native timbers and Pāua veneers are a very natural fit. Here, the white shell veneer is from Western Australian White Mother Of Pearl. The eye of the hook is Paua.

White Mother Of Pearl Veneer Inlay
Traditional Maori Art from "Engraving Systems"

Mother Of Pearl in Automotive Designs?

Research and development is well under way, using seashell for yet another subtle point of difference. This could be the largest scale of use for a product "Formed By The Ocean"...Something to watch for in future updates.

Luxury Pen With Blue Abalone Veneer
Mik Lawrence Pens - New Zealand

Tell us about your project...

Your project is unique, so we provide personalised advice before delivering worldwide from our studio in New Zealand.

Luméa products are made from natural shell with a variety of factors that affect form and function. If you can’t find the right product from within our range, then talk to us about our custom design service. We love to experiment and collaborate with our partners to create unique solutions.


Tel: +64 3 234 9065

Email: [email protected]