Finely crafted hand-made beautiful Mexican alpaca silver and abalone inlay collectible thimble with iridescent colors of pinks, blue, creamy white and green with a dimpled alpaca silver thimble top. Eight hand-set panels of different abalone shell surround this alpaca silver thimble. Excellent condition with no damage to note.
This small vintage silver and abalone inlay thimble measures 3/4" tall and 3/4" in diameter at the base. Unmarked as to maker. This is a beautiful and colorful thimble, handcrafted in Mexico.
Abalone is a common name for any of a group of small to very large edible sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs in the family Haliotidae. Other common names are ear shells, sea ears, and muttonfish or muttonshells. The meat (foot muscle) of abalone is used for food, and the shells of abalone are used as decorative items and as a source of mother of pearl for jewelry, buttons, buckles, and inlay.
Abalone shell has a peculiar property that makes it useful as an inlay material, it reflects firelight extremely well, so a mask with inlaid eyes will seem to be looking at you as you see the fire reflected from its eyes. This property seems to be much more pronounced in abalone shell grown in warmer waters, hence the tropical abalone was traded up the coast and was a precious material.
Abalone shell has been used around the Northwest Coast of North America as a valuable trade item and as an inlay material for many centuries. Before the fur trade, Mexican Green Abalone was traded up the Northwest Coast clear up into the arctic. It was considered a precious material, and was used much as gold leaf was used in Europe. An item that was gold leafed or gold inlaid was elevated to a different status than the same item left plain. Not only was more work put into the item, but it was now adorned with a precious material.
The highly iridescent inner nacre layer of the shell of abalone has traditionally been used as a decorative item, in jewelry, buttons, and as inlay in furniture and in musical instruments such as guitars, etc. The highly iridescent inner nacre layer of the shell of abalone has traditionally been used as a decorative item, in jewelry, buttons, and as inlay in furniture and in musical instruments such as guitars, etc.