What's the difference between a paua shell and an abalone shell?
They are one and the same, the difference in name is based on where the shell is from or who is naming it. Abalone is derived from the Spanish word "Abulón" and paua from the New Zealand Maori word "paua."
Abalone are sea snails--a marine gastropod mollusk. The inner shell of an abalone is made up of nacre or mother-of-pearl. This nacre comes in a variety of colors, including white/silver, pink, red, green, blue and purple. This variety, and the variations found in each abalone shell, are what make this shell, no matter what it's called, wonderful to use in jewelry designs.