Kunz in his 1908 book of pearls says this about abalone pearls.
The abalones (Haliotidae) found on the coasts of California, Japan, New Zealand, and other localities in the Pacific, secrete pearly concretions, sometimes with fine luster.
Abalone pearls are especially interesting on account of their brilliant and unusual colors. Green predominates, but blue and yellow also occur. Although commonly very small, some of the well-formed ones exceed seventy-five grains in weight, and those of irregular shape may be very much larger. The ear-shells also produce many irregular pearly masses. Their beautiful greenish or bluish tints adopt them for artistic jeweled objects such as the body of a fly or of a beetle.
Abalones occur in many inshore tropical and semi-tropical waters, and particularly in the marginal waters of the Pacific. They attach themselves to the rocks by means of their large muscular disk-shaped foot, which acts like a sucker or an exhaust-cup.
On the California coast the abalones are gathered in large quantities for the pearls, for the shells and especially for the flesh, which is dried and used for food.
Experiments in growing pearls in the abalone or Haliotis were made in 1897 by Louis Bouton, an account of which was given at the meeting of the Paris Academie des Sciences in 1898. The tenacity of life in this mollusk makes it especially desirable for experiments of this nature. Through small holes bored into the shell, pellets of mother-of-pearl were inserted and placed within the mantle, the small holes being afterward closed up. Other nacreous pellets were introduced directly into the bronchial cavity. The objects were soon covered with thin, pearly layers, resulting in a few months in spheres of much beauty, resembling somewhat the pearls naturally produced by this mollusk. In six months, according to M. Bouton, the layers became of sufficient thickness to be attractive. Within limitations, the size of the pearl produced is in proportion to the length of time it is allowed to remain within the mollusk. The results of the experiments seem to encourage further efforts in this line, and possibly in course of time there may be a profitable business in growing pearls in abalones on the pacific coast of the United States. Indeed, the experiments in transplanting and cultivating the pearl-oyster in Australia leads one to fancy that the culture of that species in the warm coastal waters of America is by no means an impossibility.
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