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Mother of pearl

With a mesmerizing luster and intriguing iridescence, mother of pearl is one of nature’s most luminous gifts.

Fact: 1 of 5

It's not an actual pearl

Mother of pearl (or nacre) is not an actual pearl, but rather the pearly inner layer found within certain types of mollusk shells. Consisting mainly of calcium carbonate, it is created by the mollusk as a way of protecting itself from parasites.

Fact: 2 of 5

Let the light waves in

Mother of pearl has a platelet structure which reflects light waves and produces its renowned iridescent sheen.

Fact: 3 of 5

Giving birth to the pearl

A pearl is created from layers and layers of nacre or mother of pearl forming together. Mother of pearl essentially “gives birth” to the pearl, thus the reason behind its name.

Fact: 4 of 5

It's an organic gemstones

It originates from a living creature, plant or organism and is primarily made up of calcium carbonate.

Fact: 5 of 5

Has associations with family and motherhood

Mother of pearl is often associated with family and motherhood. It represents harmony, calmness, positivity and intuition.

The look

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.

Processing

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.

Durability

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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