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What is Mother of Pearl? All About Mother of Pearl

Mother of pearl is a pleasing glimmering material that is very popular for home decor, inlaid for knob and pull, jewellery, and also furniture. You might have seen more mother of pearl than you think, because it is everywhere, on your table, on your cabinet, or on your body. The iridescent authenticity, gorgeous sparkle, and versatility make mother of pearl as one of the most sought-after materials.


What is Mother of Pearl

Mother of pearl is a common term for an iridescent substance, a blend of minerals secreted by molluscs to form their inner layers, coating and protecting them from parasites and predators. Mother of pearl is often used to make unique and elegance home decor, jewellery and many more. The best part of mother of pearl is that every single piece is unique, one of a kind Piece.

Brief History of Mother of Pearl

Mother of pearl has a rich and dense history. It is mentioned in so many ancient scrolls and stories, even in the Bible. It was used in the ancient times in Mesopotamia, India, and China, mainly to honour royalty and high-class citizens. There were pieces found in the ancient Egypt Pyramids and tombs.  
In previous Centuries, mother of pearl was used for many purposes that is almost identical as it is these days, with different countries known for using it in various ways. In ancient Egypt, for example, mother of pearl was used to embellish silver and gold pieces. In Bethlehem on the other hand, craftsmen carved religious memento with mother of pearl. In the land of Thai and within the Ottoman Empire, it was used in architectural designs, for inlaid for doors, knob and pull, windows, and thrones. Meanwhile in ancient China, during the Shand and Ming dynasties, mother of pearl was known to be used as materials, to make furniture, clothing and jewellery. In Victorian era, mother of pearl became popular for buttons and as clothing embellishments. It was most popular in the 19th century, back then when it was used for snuff boxes, card cases, inkwells, and many more.
The first known civilization to make jewellery from mother of pearl were the Native Americans. They used it for trading with other villages and foreigner for goods they need.

What Color are Mother of Pearls

The iridescent character of mother of pearl makes it possible for the nacre to reflect and refract sunlight to achieve wide range combination of colors that is pleasantly mesmerizing. It is likely because of this and the evident connection to the sea that a lot of people find mother of pearl to be calming and soothing. Some of the most prominent color combination that appear in mother of pearl are:

  • Mat : Light silvery gray, lacking luster
  • Stone : Virtually white, mildly reflective
  • Chip : Multi colored mixture.
  • White : Extremely iridescent, most widely used for home decor.
  • Iridescent : Glossy mix of green and pin

Variety colors of mother of pearl

The Difference between Mother of Pearl and Pearl

Mother of pearl and pearl have some similarities, but they are basically different. They both are composition of nacres, but a pearl is formed when, a layer of nacre is placed around a tiny object, such as sand that enter the mollusc shell, that become lodged inside the mollusc. Eventually, this nacre is building up and forming a pearl. Mother of pearl on the other hand, reference to the thin nacre coating that coat the mollusc shell.

Another fundamental distinction is their rarities and their Availabilities. A lot of mollusc produces mother of pearl, but only small portion of those actually produce pearls. Not every mollusc shell has nacre coating. The easiest way to distinct shell that has mother nacre coating and that doesn’t have nacre coating is by looking for the iridescent quality.


Mother of Pearl Uses

Mother of pearl is known to have calming and stress relieving effects, bringing peace and soothing for both your body and home. It is also known to be divine wisdom and fortune bringer.

It shows the sense of lightness and calmness, helping people to remember and show who they truly are, and also boost your confidence for anyone who needed it.          

Mother of Pearl in Home Decor Design

  • Home Decor Accessories : One of the most popular and the easiest way to apply mother of pearl. This material suits really well on trays, boxes, table are and many more
  • Knob and Pull : Mother of pearl pull is achieved by inlaying the material on your cabinet hardware to give it more beautiful accent.
  • Mirror and Wall Art : Great material to be used with the lacquer material to give your mirror a new and shinning looks.
  • Furniture : Mother of pearl is usually also used on furniture, to give accent on furniture pieces.


What is Mother of Pearl Worth

Mother of pearl is a common substance in varieties type of mollusks, so it not considered rare. Pearls in contrast are so much more difficult to create, making them way pricier than the mother of pearl. The supply of mother of pearls are also much more plentiful, making it relatively affordable and easier to find.

In spite of its natural profusion and moderate cost, mother of pearl has been decreasing in popularity over the years. This is happening mainly because the industries where mother of pearls are used often, mainly jewelries and home decor, don’t want to support the unsustainable and the unethical way it is farmed. The price depends also on the kind of the mother of pearl, the weight and the number of defects.

The price will also depend on whether it is colored or bleached. As it is mentioned earlier, nacre comes as iridescent, multi-color gleam of mother of pearl. It is often bleached to a certain color to mimic the desired pearl when is harvested. Mother of pearl on the other hand, has its natural beauty that catch people appreciation without any alteration.


How to Clean Mother of Pearl

Even though, mother of pearl is an affordable material option for your home decor, proper care is still needed to preserve your pieces. To do it, you can keep it away from direct sunlight, strong heat sources, or dry climate. If the mother of pearl becomes dry, there might be slight chance that the surface will crack and become less resistant against pressure.

This biomineral has only 3.5 on Moh’s hardness scale. The scale goes from one with talc, to diamond being ten or the hardest mineral. Knowing mother of pearl’s hardness number inform people how to clean it properly without doing any damage. Cleaning mother of pearl is something to be done with finesses and gentle finger. Due to its nature as a biominerals, it is easily scratched.

There are several recommendations on how to clean your mother of pearl. The advices are recommended by a lot of professionals that familiar with mother of pearl, such as professional jewellers, professional designer, mother of pearl harvesters, and families who have dealt with mother of pearl for generations. Those recommendations include:


  • The Olive Oil Method
               Use microfiber cloth to dust the home decor
               Dip the cloth into olive oil
               Polish the surface with olive oil gently
               Allow to completely dry


  • The Soap Method
               Use dish soap mix with water
               Using a scratch free sponge, gently massage the surface
               Rinse and let dry completely
  •   The Dry Method

               Used satin cloth and nothing more
               Make your mother of pearl knob shining and new again


By SerunicHome