Mother of Pearl

Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl

Mother of pearl comes from oysters.  Oysters have survived from the beginning of time until today, basically unchanged. They are found wherever there is a body of salt water. They are creatures who provided their own protection as they lived in the early hostile seas and oceans, thus ensuring their survival. Their home, its’ shell, was, and is, composed of Calcium Carbonate, a soft, easily carved and polished material arrayed in layers of hexagonal plates. the shape and textures repeated throughout the shell to give it strength and rigidity. But sometimes the shells do fail and break and are then transformed into wave polished bits and pieces, easily found strewn about on most ocean beaches. The use of these bits, as jewellery, predates written history.

Just as an oyster secretes a layer over an irritation to protect itself, so it creates and enlarges its own home with the same material. As it grows, it deposits layer after layer in concentric, ever growing, plates. Eventually, the home it has created to accommodate an ever growing self is a safe and secure environment. The gnarly exterior is a result of other creatures like minute barnacles and corals, attaching themselves to the shell. Some of these shells can measure several feet across.

Mother of Pearl is the trade name given to the nacreous layer linings of the shell of the Pearl mollusks. These linings have been used by humans to create many useful and beautiful things for a long time. Things like jewellery, buttons, combs and handles for cutlery. Anything that was commonly made of wood or horn could now be as utilitarian but more beautiful.

Just as you can find white pearls and blacks, so there are many colours in the inside of the shells. And each different species can produce different colours, shades and hues altogether, depending on the location. For example, the Abalone oyster produces the spectacularly multicoloured shell featured at the top left of the picture below.

Mother of pearl also has a prehistoric cousin, the Ammonite or Giant Nautilus. The Gemmy inside of the shells from these giants are found in one location in Canada, in Alberta. The Aragonite replacement in these petrified specimens is some times called Grandmother of Pearl.

Of course we have a great stock of Pearls, Mother of Pearl and Ammonite all set in jewellery and as raw specimens. When you want an inexpensive thrill, come in and view our collection. And remember, the colour White goes with everything!

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