Mother-of-pearl is the iridescent lining found on the inside of some mollusk shells such as oysters, abalone, mussel and paua. Originally known as nacre, coming from the Arabic word "naqqarah" meaning shell, mother-of-pearl's lustrous beauty has been prized for thousands of years.
Mother-of-Pearl: A Moonlit Shimmer
Going as far back as 2400-2600 B.C., beautiful musical instruments with mother-of-pearl inlays were buried in the tombs of Sumerian royalty from ancient Mesopotamia. Early Polynesians and Australians valued mother-of-pearl more than pearls — they would harvest the pearl oysters for the shells and discard the pearls. Ancient Chinese offered mother-of-pearl beads and carvings to the gods hoping it would bring them luck.
In the 15th century, Queen Elizabeth I gave this luminous gem its more familiar name "mother-of-pearl," referring to the fact that these shells are the mother from which pearls are created. Mother-of-pearl experienced great popularity and was set in gold and silver rings, necklaces and mother-of-pearl brooches.
Always popular for classic brooches, pendants and pins, mother-of-pearl also adds a soft, luminous glow to contemporary jewelry designs and mother-of-pearl rings. Visit the Ross-Simons web site to see our latest mother-of-pearl jewelry creations.
Glowing with an iridescent beauty, mother-of-pearl has been showcased in jewelry designs for thousands of years. As mother-of-pearl is a natural substance, it may vary in appearance, and its distinctive shimmer lends a quiet elegance to fine jewelry. More about colored gemstones.
Mother-of-pearl offers the classic shine of a pearl, but can be used in more creative ways. The gem can be carved for cameos or pendants, or cut into many unique shapes for use in rings, earrings and bracelets. Ross-Simons' jewelers look to highlight each piece's unique beauty in our jewelry designs. Mother-of-pearl is set in sterling silver and 14kt gold jewelry designs. Some of best selling rings and necklaces feature natural or dyed mother-of-pearl, and many of our mother-of-pearl earrings are exclusive to Ross-Simons.
Much of the mother-of-pearl used in jewelry today hails from China, Japan and the South Pacific.
Mother-of-Pearl Jewelry Care & Handling
Mother-of-pearl is one of the softest gemstones (2.5-4.5 on the Mohs scale) and should be protected from scratches and sharp blows. Keep your mother-of-pearl jewelry away from substances that could harm its luster and clean gently with a soft cloth or soapy water. Store your mother-of-pearl jewelry alone inside your Ross-Simons presentation box.