About Abalone Jewelry Making By Cindy Ryder
“When I tell people I work with abalone shells I usually get a response: I know someone who used to dive for abalone.
Very few people know what an abalone is or the process involved in creating jewelry from the shells.
So, here is a brief description: Abalone are marine mollusks.
I work with West Coast red abalone. There is a size limit for harvesting abalone depending on local regulations. I am very careful to follow all rules and regulations.
The dust created by grinding and cutting abalone shells is dangerous. Appropriate safeguards are taken to be protected from inhaling these particles. I use a respirator and a vacuum and/or water system in the jewelry making process. Once a design has been decided upon, a power saw with a diamond saw blade is used to disassemble the whole shells.
I mark out the design with templates I have created, and cut the pieces apart with a handheld saw with a smaller diamond saw blade. Bench grinders with varying grit wheels are used to grind off the back of the shell and shape the pieces. Once the desired shape is achieved, I use a drill press with a diamond drill bit to drill holes.
These pieces are taken to the indoor studio where I pair them with complimentary beads and sterling silver components to create earrings, pendants, necklaces, bracelets and anklets.
So there you have it, a little lesson on abalone and abalone jewelry making.”–Cindy Ryder