Although not many know this, mother of pearl can be virtually any color, often light in tone, with pearly luster and often an iridescent effect.
After the mother of pearl is cut from the shell of the oyster, it's sometimes bleached to produce a uniform white color or dyed a range of attractive colors. A light polishing is applied to accentuate the pearlescent effect. Mother of pearl is often cut into fancy shapes for jewelry use. The shaping can either be done by hand in traditional manner or achieved using modern laser cutting technology (CNC). In ancient times, mother of pearl was also used for mosaics, created with tiny pieces of the luminous gem.
Mother of pearl has a hardness of 3.5-4.0 on the Mohs scale. With fair toughness, it's reasonably durable, but it's particularly susceptible to attack by acids and damage from ultrasonic cleaning and is sensitive to solvents.
How to care for it?
Rough surfaces may cause scratching or chipping. Jewelry should be stored separately in a protective box or pouch. Direct sunlight and drier climates may dry out mother of pearl and create cracks. Wearing mother of pearl is one of the best ways of caring for it, as contact with natural skin oils help maintain the luster of the gem. Clean using a soft cloth dampened in lukewarm, soapy water and wipe the surface gently.
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