By Danielle Olivia Tefft, Jewelry Writer
Note: A version of this article was first published on the Ruby Lane Blog and the now defunct Yahoo! Contributor Network.
This natural shimmering substance first captured civilization’s eye over 5000 years ago in the Mesopotamian Basin of ancient Iraq. Mother- of- pearl is a common material used for inlays on furniture, tiles and other decorative objects. It is also commonly used for buttons and in jewelry. This natural material with its shimmering metallic rainbow of colors never seems to go out of style. The most sought after mother- of- pearl comes from the abalone shell. Paua abalone from the waters off New Zealand is most prized for its iridescence and beauty.
My favorite use for mother- of- pearl is in jewelry. (No surprise, right?) But this beautiful material is used in many more applications. Mother- of -pearl pellets are used as the “seed” around which modern cultured pearls are grown. Through the years this beautiful natural material has also been used for many different purposes. The Chinese have been using crushed mother-of-pearl for centuries in medicines. And in the past decade, scientists have tried to duplicate its molecular structure to make super strong and durable ceramic tiles for industrial and commercial applications. There are also biomedical studies underway to determine if mother- of- pearl can be used as a catalyst for human bone regeneration.
So just what exactly is mother- of- pearl? Mother- of- pearl, also called nacre (from the Arab word for shell, “naqqarah “ ) is a hard, iridescent coating found on the inside of certain mollusk shells. It's mainly comprised of calcium carbonate.
Here are some additional uses for mother- of- pearl that may surprise you:
Beauty Treatments: Mother -of-pearl is used as an ingredient in soap, face creams, and powders. These specialized cosmetics list it as an agent that helps treat scars, provides dermabrasion, exfoiliation, and cell renewal and rejuvenation.
Metaphysical Properties: There are those who believe wearing mother- of- pearl attracts money, makes one more intuitive, imaginative and increases psychic abilities. It is also believed to provide protection, especially for children, and to cleanse one's surroundings.
Folklore/Home Remedies: The Chinese and Native Americans have long believed in the healing properties of mother- of- pearl. Specifically, it has been said to cure high blood pressure, and stop heart palpitations and dizziness. It has also been used to help heal wounds and improve vision.
So, the next time you put on your lovely mother- of- pearl pin or pendant, or polish that antique desk with the mother- of- pearl inlay, I hope you will remember all the other uses for this remarkable natural material.
Do you have any mother-of-pearl pieces in your jewelry collection? Or are you aware of another unique use for this beautiful natural material? Please let me know in the comments section and subscribe to this blog if you enjoy vintage and antique jewelry as much as I do!
1. “Mother of Pearl | Mollusk Shell Structure,” Pearl-Guide.com.
2. “Metaphysical and healing properties of crystals, gems and stones – M,” crystalsandjewelry.com/metaphysicalproperties_m.html.
3. “Mother of Pearl - Opal of the Sea,” ezinearticles.com/?Mother-of-Pearl---Opal-of-the-Sea&id=928151.
4. “Mother of Pearl Jewelry,” clunygreyjewelry.com/mother-of-pearl-jewelry.html.
5. “Mother of Pearl Secret Revealed,” physorg.com/news147014618.html.
6. “Mother-of-pearl From Shells Could Inspire Regeneration of Human Bones,” sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212112741.htm.
Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems, jewelry and fashion. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box Antiques. Current projects include writing jewelry and fashion blogs for clients worldwide. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her fiancé. Would you like to hire her? Visit her website danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for clips, terms and more information.
About This Blog:
The Found in the Jewelry Box Blog is my attempt to teach others about the wonderful world of gems and jewelry, past and present. Please enjoy!