How To Tell If An Abalone Shell Is Real or Fake

Abalone shells are beautiful natural treasures that make for great decorative pieces and jewelry. Their iridescent sheen and unique patterns make them highly desirable. However, with the popularity of abalone shell items, fake abalone shell products have flooded the market. So how do you tell if an abalone shell is real or fake? Here are some tips and tricks.

Check The Weight

A real abalone shell feels surprisingly heavy for its size. The thick nacre layer makes it quite dense and solid. Fakes tend to be lighter in weight. So if your abalone item feels feather light, it’s likely not real Pick up the shell or jewelry piece and gauge its heft A real abalone bracelet or ring should have some noticeable weight to it.

Look At The Patterns

Genuine abalone has distinctive swirl patterns and colors on its interior. These patterns result from the natural growth structure of the abalone’s nacre layers. The colors range from green blue pink, purple and more. Fakes often look more uniform without the fine, complex designs.

Examine the piece closely under good lighting. Real abalone has a depth and intricacy to its patterning. Fakes look flat and lack that level of detail. If the swirls look artificial, it’s probably not real.

Check For Imperfections

Abalone shells pulled from the ocean will have some natural imperfections. Things like chips, cracks, or scratches. The rough exterior especially shows the marks of its natural origins. Fakes tend to look pristine or perfectly uniform.

So look for small flaws and imperfections. These are signs that the abalone is authentic and untreated. Large unblemished pieces are more suspect.

Attempt A Hot Needle Test

Here’s a simple test you can do: Take a sewing needle and heat up the tip with a lighter or match. Then, gently press the hot needle to an inconspicuous spot on the abalone item. If it’s plastic or resin, the needle will go right through, leaving a pin-sized hole. Real abalone will resist the needle, at most showing a small indent.

Be very careful performing this test as the hot needle can damage the abalone. But it’s an effective way to check if that shell or jewelry is genuine.

Examine The Backing

For abalone jewelry like pendants or rings, look at the backing behind the abalone piece. Real abalone will be backfilled with resin, plastic or metal to make it smooth. Fakes may just have cardstock or nothing behind the abalone “veneer”.

If the backing seems flimsy or cheap, then the abalone is likely not real. Quality jewelry uses durable backings for real abalone pieces.

Research The Source

When buying abalone items, especially jewelry or whole shells, research where it comes from. There are many abalone farms now that ethically and sustainably raise abalone for commercial use. These farms harvest legal, high quality abalone.

Avoid sellers that give vague claims of their abalone being “eco-friendly”. Make sure they state the verified, legal source. Wild abalone harvesting is extremely restricted worldwide so be wary of sellers making dubious claims.

Consult An Expert

When in doubt, consult a professional gemologist or appraiser. They have expert knowledge and tools to conclusively determine if an abalone item is real. They can examine the shell density, patterns, species traits and other indicators.

This professional opinion will give you definitive peace of mind. The small fee is worth it for expensive abalone jewelry or decorative shells.

Abalone Shell Meaning Benefits and Spiritual Properties


How do you identify an abalone shell?

The oval-shaped shell protects the abalone from predators. The shell is usually brown and marked with many low, flat-topped ribs which run parallel to the 5 to 7 open respiratory pores that are elevated above the shell’s surface. The inside of the shell is an iridescent blue and green.

Why are abalone shells illegal?

All non-native abalone species are prohibited from importation into California due to concerns over the introduction of an exotic species to local waters and the diseases they potentially carry that could affect native populations, including the endangered white and black abalone.

What do abalone shells look like?

The exterior of the shell is striated and dull. The color of the shell is very variable from species to species, which may reflect the animal’s diet. The iridescent nacre that lines the inside of the shell varies in color from silvery white, to pink, red and green-red to deep blue, green to purple.

Is it OK to collect abalone shells?

Diving to collect shells is permitted 1000 feet from shore. However, there are “bag” limits and seasons for some mollusks such as abalone. Consult the current California Fish and Game regulations. In general, there are no restrictions against collecting empty shells from California beaches.

What does an abalone shell look like?

The color of an abalone shell can vary based on the species and the individual’s diet. The outer surface is generally dull and may be gray, green, or brown. The inner layer, or nacre, is iridescent and displays a spectrum of colors, ranging from silvery white to green, blue, and even pink or purple. 4. What is an abalone shell?

What are the characteristics of an abalone?

Abalones are characterized by an open and curved shell, with a row of respiratory holes along one edge. These respiratory holes serve not only for respiration, but also for waste discharge. Inside the shell, the body of the abalone is divided into the foot, head, and visceral mass.

What are the different types of abalone shells in New Zealand?

In New Zealand, there are three species of abalone: Haliotis iris, H. australis, and H.virginea. The Haliotis iris, H. australis, and H.virginea are the different types of abalone shells found in New Zealand. The Paua shell is the most colorful of all the abalone shells, featuring colors such as greens, pinks, purples, and blues, as well as gold or crimson toning. Mother of pearl from these shells is used in its natural form but is also frequently dyed.

How many holes does an abalone have?

Only a small number is generally open. The older holes are gradually sealed up as the shell grows and new holes form. Each species has a typical number of open holes, between four and 10, in the selenizone. An abalone has no operculum. The aperture of the shell is very wide and nacreous.

Leave a Comment