Mother of pearl is the newest sensation in the jewelry world. Besides the fact that this material has a very beautiful name, it also looks gorgeous. Want to find out more about it? Then keep on reading. We bet there are a couple of things you didn’t know and we are here to enlighten you. Plus, as a bonus, you will get to see some of our newest designs and find out more about buying precious & semi precious stones jewelry.

Mother of pearl or nacre?

We prefer the term mother of pearl because it sounds more beautiful but it is the same thing. As you know, pearls form inside oysters and mollusk shells. The process is a fascinating one. When an irritant (usually a piece of shell) enters the oyster, the organism starts to secrete a substance around the irritant. Not unlike the cases of spiders protecting themselves from intrusions by wrapping the bug in the web. For oysters, that substance is called nacre.

Now what happens is that, in time, the nacre hardens around the irritant in a circular or baroque shape that eventually becomes the pearl. However, a thin layer of nacre adheres to the mollusk’s shell giving it a beautiful iridescent appearance. The result is that the shell gets a beautiful glow and a gorgeous multi-color effect. This is how that shell becomes mother of pearl. After all, it is the mother of the beautiful pearl.

What is important to know is that not all mollusk shells get to be mother of pearls. Some jewelry designers use non-nacre shells in their designs. And while the jewelry resulted from it is also gorgeous, it doesn’t bear this name. To distinguish between those different types of jewelry, all you have to do is take a close look. A non-nacre shell will look like smooth porcelain. A mother of pearl jewelry piece will have a distinctive iridescent glow and a subtle color play that changes in the light.

What is the difference between mother of pearl and pearl jewelry?

Think of it this way. If we were talking about a chocolate muffin, the chocolate inside it would be the pearl, and the cake would be the mother of pearl. Ok, enough with the food references now.

Visually speaking, there are a couple of differences between pearl jewelry and pieces with the shell’s nacre. The latter can be much bigger because the shell takes a lot of space. While some of the biggest pearls (South Sea pearl) can reach 20 mm in diameter, mother of pearl can reach three or four times more than that.

The setting of the jewelry piece can also offer you hints. Pearls are drilled and strung (when not set on rings, for example). Since mother of pearl is rather thin, it needs a more secure setting. This is why you will mostly find it in flush or bezel settings.

mother of pearl

When it comes to color these two gorgeous gems also differ. The iridescence quality of the mother of pearl is greater and the color play more obvious. On the other hand, pearls have that smooth and irresistible luster about them.

Is it a new invention?

Only if you consider Ancient Egypt to be new. The truth is that for thousands of year people have used mother of pearl. In the time of the pharaohs, they would use it to embellish silver pieces. During the Ming dynasty in China is was a very popular choice. Also, Native Americans would regularly trade it to create gorgeous beaded jewelry.

Just a couple of years ago, archaeologists discovered an amazing Mesopotamian plaque with mother of pearl inlay dating back to 2500 BC. And the reason why people have always used it to decorate objects and as jewelry is that mother of pearl is absolutely gorgeous.

Mother of pearl jewelry by Ana Luisa

Looking to spruce up your jewelry collection with mother of pearl pieces? Well, we promised we would share with you our latest designs. And, spoilers ahead, they are fabulous.

Ana Luisa’s Dona necklace features an iridescent pendant with mother of pearl in a vintage-inspired bezel setting. This long necklace looks gorgeous with deep-V necklines or even turtlenecks. Wear it with precious fabrics like black satin, velvet, silk or cashmere to emphasize the unique glow of this jewelry piece. You can also style it with pearl studs and an intricate pearl ring to create a cohesive and sophisticated look.

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Our Diva necklace also features a mother of pearl pendant in a bezel setting. However, it has the shape of a disc and the necklace is princess-length which makes it ideal for sweetheart and boat necklines. You can easily style it with your office dress, linear drop earrings, and thin bangle bracelets. With its mesmerizing glow and intricate setting, this necklace will soon become your favorite jewelry piece.

mother of pearl

If you loved discovering the amazing mother of pearl, then keep browsing through our blog to see yet more jewelry-related articles. Get your facts from Ana Luisa and become a jewelry expert by reading our buying & maintenance guides for different gemstones and precious metals as well as our fashion inspiration articles where you will discover the latest jewelry trends.

To get any of the stunning designs featured in this article and discover more organic pearl jewelry, visit Ana Luisa online jewelry shop and check out our fabulous collections.

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Ruxandra is a fashion blogger who teaches fashion stumped twenty to thirty somethings how to shop their jewelry boxes for polished new ensembles. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Fashionista, Nylon, and Refinery29.