The recent development of mabé (half-pearl) aquaculture has enabled new livelihood opportunities for remote coastal communities and peri-urban areas of Fiji and Tonga. This article explores how specific mabé projects have provided socio-economic benefits to individuals and groups engaged in mabé aquaculture and handicraft production and considers how these benefits contribute towards women’s empowerment. We examine both the economic dimensions of empowerment as well as more intangible aspects of agency. While mabé aquaculture and the production of mother-of-pearl handicrafts in Fiji and Tonga is currently limited by market constraints and is reliant on government and donor support, women and men can earn supplementary incomes that are important for supporting diverse rural livelihoods in a manner that is culturally compatible and rewarding. Importantly, social and cultural aspects of these initiatives enabled many women to think differently about themselves, their capabilities, and their aspirations for the future.