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.
For many centuries the Maori 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.
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.
The Source of Paua
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 or weights. 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.
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.
Ariki Greenstone (Nephrite Jade) is set in gold plate and palladium plate jewellery. It is carefully crafted to the highest standard of workmanship. Ariki Greenstone (Jade) jewellery provides an exceptional selection of pieces, with a design to suit the most discerning wearer.
In New Zealand, Greenstone was formed by great heat and pressure on the ocean bed over 200 million years ago. During the formation of our Southern Alps 10 million years ago, this beautiful gemstone was lifted high in to the mountains. Over time natural erosion has released Jade boulders into glaciers and rivers carrying them to remote valleys and streams.
Known locally as Greenstone or "Pounamu" from the Maori language, New Zealand's nephrite jade is a tough hard stone with colours varying from pale to dark green. The Maori used the Greenstone for some of their weapons as well as for jewellery and it was greatly prized for its strength, beauty and rarity. Ariki selects only the best quality Greenstone for jewellery, sourcing jade from various international sources including New Zealand. Ariki Greenstone jewellery is designed and created in our factory in Blenheim, New Zealand.
Maori names for different colours of Greenstone (Jade)
Inanga (Whitebait) - Very pale green.
Totoweka - A very rare form of Greenstone, streaked or spotted with red.
Kohuwai - Called after the greenish moss growth in a slow running steam.
Kawa-kawa - Similar to the leaves of the Pepperwood tree.
Kako-Tea - Dark green with black spots.
Kahurangi (Garment of Heaven) - Bright green with light streaks resembling rolling clouds.
riki Black Lipped Mother of Pearl jewellery is made from shells found in the warm, clear waters of the South Pacific, especially around the Cook Islands and Tahiti.
The Black Lipped Mother of Pearl shell has adorned Polynesian chiefs, warriors and dancers for centuries. Costumes and headdresses for ceremonial occasions, breast plates worn into battle, and mourning dresses, all used by the chiefs, were decorated with this shell.
Today, Black Lipped Mother of Pearl shell is highly prized throughout the world for its natural beauty and durability. The shell symbolises love, good fortune and prosperity, making it an ideal gift for both the younger and mature age groups.
Our latest range of Sterling Silver Paua Shell Jewellery was launched late last year (2011) and is already proving to be very popular. This range has become a strong seller for many of our retailers.
The Paua Shells when harvested are coated with a thick layer of marine growth and lime. This growth is removed to reveal the dazzling designs of nature in each shell. These shells are then ground, cut and polished by the craftspeople in our Blenheim factory in New Zealand. Once the shell has been prepared it is set into Sterling Silver 925 panels.
We import beautiful sterling silver chains from Italy to place on each pendant. The jewellery is then packaged in a leatherette jewellery box which is manufactured in a factory next to ours in Blenheim, New Zealand. Before the jewellery leaves our factory, each item is given a quality check and some anti tarnish paper is inserted to preserve the lustre of our jewellery.