Mother of Pearl has been in extensive use for a while now, but many of us don’t know much about the material or its myriad of uses. Some even confuse it with pearls due to their close connection to each other.
In this blog, we will talk about everything you need to know about Mother of Pearl from its structure and origin to its distinguishing features and uses. By the end of this post, you’ll surely be eager to own our Mother of Pearl tissue box cover and a few more items made from this breathtaking material!
What Mother of Pearl Is and How it Differs from Pearls
When some molluscs accumulate an iridescent substance on their inner layer, that layer is known as Mother of Pearl. This organic lining is prominent in abalone, freshwater mussels, and pearl oysters to guard the inner shell from external contaminants and parasites.
It has a distinct, iridescent appearance that brings a boho-chic appeal, making it ideal for making jewellery and other decorative items such as a Mother of Pearl tissue box. That’s because light reflects off its layers to provide a multi-coloured lustre, similar to that produced in pearls.
But why is it called that? That answer is believed to lie in the nacre-lined shells. They are present in the place where pearls are formed and also share certain characteristics. However, they are significantly different from each other in some ways.
For instance, even though both these substances are made of nacre, They are named after two different parts of the shell. Mother of Pearl is what we call the inner shell that is coated with nacre, whereas a pearl is completely made of the material.
If a contaminant or irritant gets stuck inside the shell, the mollusc covers it in several layers of nacre until it grows into a pearl in a few years. The two also differ when it comes to supply and availability; pearls, especially varieties like Tahitian, Akoya, and South Sea are extremely rare.
This is because far fewer molluscs produce pearl gemstones than they do Mother of Pearl. In fact, the percentage of molluscs that are able to create pearls is very low. This number hasn’t been able to improve despite multiple advances in pearl cultivation because favorable conditions don’t guarantee the pearl production by a mussel or oyster. Furthermore, there are several species of molluscs that can create Mother of Pearl in comparison with fewer kinds of molluscs that can make gem-quality pearls. In other words, a Mother of Pearl tissue box cover is likely to be more affordable than a pearl necklace.
How Long has Mother of Pearl been in Use?
Long ago, Mother of Pearl was more valuable than pearls themselves in some cultures. Ancient Egyptians decorated silver pieces with Mother of Pearl embellishments, and centuries later, it was extremely popular in the Chinese Ming and Shang Dynasties. Native American tribes also used Mother of Pearl in making ornaments, aside from trading it.
Some Uses of this Special Material
The most popular use is in ornaments and jewellery. Due to its excellent appearance and properties, Mother of Pearl is also used (wherever it is found) to make a variety of products such as a Mother of Pearl tissue boxcover and flower vase along with home décor and tile designs.
Many craftsmen utilize this material as an accent for a wide range of items such as the buttons on women’s clothes, men’s cufflinks, and several playing instruments (harmonicas, accordions, guitars, etc.)