About Paua World

All Companies Have a Beginning. Ours was in an old chicken shed in 1979 in the town of Masterton – North Island, New Zealand, population 20,000. Two years later the company and factory was moved South some 14 kilometers to its present purpose built site in the small rural town of Carterton, population 4100. We now have 2 companies, NZDimensionz, Which is our Manufacturing and wholesale company and Paua World-our retail tourist attraction.

paua world logo

NZDimensionz Ltd

NZDimensionz was founded by father and son Rob and Matt Carter. Both continue to be extremely active in both companies today. With a strategy for absolute quality and precision the basis was set to cut and polish large volumes of paua shell (New Zealand's abalone) into cabochons (calibrated stones for the jewellery trade) for the world jewellery manufacturing market.

To date the NZDimensionz group of companies is one of the largest suppliers of shell products in New Zealand and employ over 40 people manufacturing a large range of jewellery, gifts and souvenirs from paua shell, mother of pearl, pink mussel shell, New Zealand nephrite jade, bone, glass and various types of resin. Our wholesale division was set up in 1985 to distribute our New Zealand made gift and souvenir range to retailers around both New Zealand and Australia, supplying over 500 outlets to date.

Paua World

Our retail tourist attraction, was set up in 1987 to allow the public to experience first hand the factory in action. With over 50,000 visitors a year, it is the ideal showcase for our products. Complimented by an astounding array of New Zealand souvenirs and Jewellery it is the perfect destination for travellers and locals alike.

 

30 years of jewellery making

For over 30 years NZDimensionz has been creating Cabochons created from New Zealand Paua (Abalone) Shell. This was our beginning into a journey in Jewellery.

Cabochons are calibrated stones for the Jewellery trade, which are precision crafted onsite to have a tolerance of less than .03mm. We still manufacture these for export today.

A picture of a pile of some paua cabochons.
An old paua necklace, with gold koru around the edge.

Fashions and traditions often influence our craftwork, and we have a wide array of machinery and equipment to create our products. Methods such as spin casting and resin work mean we have a multitude of options on hand. Showcasing New Zealand to the world has always been our goal.

As the company has grown larger we have now diversified into making hand carved Bone Pendants, which are very popular.

A bone pendant, carved into the shape of a traditional maori fishhook.
A colourful dichroic glass necklace.

An exciting new component of our manufacturing is Dichroic Glass. With kilns reaching in excess of 800 degrees celsius the resulting jewellery is vibrant, colourful and stunning.

With the advent of new technology and some innovative techniques we are now able to create designs that years ago were merely a thought in our minds.

A fiery-red round spice pendant with a fern pattern.

The story of NZ Paua

Paua - Haliotis Iris

The largest, most common and best known of our species. The shellfish is black and the interior of the shell has cloudy waves of rainbow colours with blues and green being dominant. The shells were used by the Maori to add a gleam of life to the eyes in their carved figures. Today we process them into attractive jewellery and gifts.

Haliotis Iris picture
Haliotis Australis picture

Silver Paua - Haliotis Australis

A smaller species readily distinguished by the silvery lustre of the inside, the cross ridging of the outside and by the yellowish colour of the animal when found alive. It lives in the same localities as the large paua but is not so common.

Virgin Paua - Haliotis virginea

A much smaller and rarer shell, this paua occurs as two subspecies, one from the southern areas and one from the north. The shellfish is a dirty whitish colour and is not often seen alive.

Haliotis virginea picture

How to clean your Paua Shells

Firstly, we have to choose the thickest, best quality shells for cleaning. Some are too brittle to withstand the grinding process required to remove their tough lime exterior. For the shells that are successfully selected, we use a grinding machine with diamond wheels. Each one is hand-held against the grinder to ‘sand’ back the hardened lime exterior. A mask and gloves are worn during the process. The result reveals the beauty of the colours within.

Tips for cleaning Paua at home

You can use a coarse grade of sandpaper (60-150 grit) to remove the outer layer of lime. Make sure you also use a wet and dry paper with plenty of added water, to wipe the shell as you go. This will help to avoid the dust created in the process and leave you with a semi-gloss finish. If you’re after a high-gloss finish, we recommend using a buffing wheel with some form of rouge (these can be purchased at most hardware stores). Be prepared to put a couple of hours into each shell – they do take a while to clean up when using sandpaper.

A picture of a paua shell being cleaned against a grinder at the factory.