After 15 years of experimentation, New Zealand’s native abalone species—Haliotis iris, or “paua” in layman’s terms—is producing brilliant blue mabe pearls. They’re available through Imperial Pearls and farmed and produced by Eyris Blue Pearls. The name “Eyris” is meant to evoke both the human eye and its connection, through the colorful pearls, to the Haliotis iris species.
The pearl process takes three years from the time wild abalones are seeded with plastic inserts by divers, Roger Beattie, managing director of Eyris Blue Pearls, told JCK at The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas in June. The mollusks feed on raw seaweed, and during development, Eyris employs a technique that allows the flat pearl backs to resemble paua shells—mother-of-pearl—instead of the plastic inserts. The resulting mabe pearls range in size from 7 to 15 mm.
The blue pearls are exclusive to the U.S. market outside of their native New Zealand and Australia, and buy-in for jewelers is low—six to eight pieces.