Vintage Paua Shell Jewellery

Art Souvenir, Tourist Kitsch, Kiwi Icon

By Elly van de Wijdeven

Availability: In stock

The story of paua jewellery, from art souvenir and tourist kitsch to highly collectible Kiwi icon.

All vintage jewellery is collectible and none more so than that made from paua shell. No longer regarded as the tourist kitsch of yesteryear, the book explores this fascinating history and shares the many stories of how and why it came to be produced and by whom, and also who bought it and for what reason, whether as a souvenir of New Zealand or to commemorate a special place or event.

The beauty of numerous pieces of paua shell jewellery is showcased in over 350 photographs and the story traces paua's roots from the Classic pre-European Maori period, through the years of its main production in New Zealand from the 1920s to the 1980s, before the market was flooded by cheap, mass-produced imports, to its present status as Kiwi icon.

An e-book, New Zealand Paua Shell Jewellery: A Cultural History, gives a more detailed account of this story (60,000 words and 76 images). It is able to be purchased through the usual online retailers.

220 x 210 mm, 192 pages, colour, hardback



Elly van de Wijdeven

Elly van de Wijdeven is an academic and researcher in the field of material culture, and along with her interest in paua shell jewellery, she writes and speaks on New Zealand textiles. She was a contributor to the Berg Fashion Encyclopedia: Vol 7, Australia and New Zealand.