Mother-of-pearl is very popular in jewelry making. Mother-of-pearl shell jewelry mounted in a necklace or bracelet has been used for thousands of years by man.

Mother-of-pearl is the result of the secretion made by molluscs that covers the inner part of their shell. This secretion accumulates over time to form thick mother-of-pearl that is used in jewelry among other things.

Mother-of-pearl is also the famous pearls. The latter are formed by successive deposits of mother-of-pearl layers on an intruded object (a grain of sand) having penetrated inside the shell of the mollusc.

The pearls are mother of pearl, oval or round.

Here are some examples of mother of pearl jewelry that we could realize in our jewelry workshop :

choker necklace black pearl 18k gold earrings with pearls diy necklace with pearls

 

If pearls are today cultivated by a specialized industry as explained in this article, abalone mother-of-pear comes as for it from the shell of the abalone which is harvested in an artisanal way on the littoral.

What is abalone ?

Abalone is a large mollusk living in shallow water in almost all oceans. He lives on the rocks, and can be very large, up to 20 cm and weigh more than two kilos.

Abalone shell
Abalone shell used in jewelry

It is known and exploited for its flesh as well as for its shell whose pearly interior offers various reflections that can go from black to silver through blue, gray, green and pink.

The colors of the abalone mother-of-pearl vary according to the variety considered and its diet. The shell represents one third of the weight of the shell of abalone and has long been used in jewelry or for the decoration of objects.

Abalone shell
Pearly shell of polished abalone used to make jewelry

The nacre process of the abalone shell is the same as that giving birth to the well-known pearls.

Only the pearly pearls of these molluscs are too irregular to be exploited on the pearl market, it is therefore its pearly shell that is used to make jewelry.

To make a jewel of abalone, a fragment of the shell is cut and then shaped as one would with a fine stone, to then be mounted on the jewel by crimping. Abalone is generally used for silver jewelry, the reflections of its mother-of-pearl marrying very well with those of silver.

Jewelry using abalone mother-of-pearl

Here is a glimpse of jewelry using abalone mother-of-pearl as a main stone or inserted on a jewel with other stones or shells.

gold pendant Peruvian bracelet
Peruvian bracelet Peruvian earrings

 

To learn more about how these Peruvian jewels are made, I invite you to read this article which presents the stages of their manufacture.

The work of mother-of-pearl

For the manufacture of jewelry, it's essential to shape the mother of pearl that will be used. Fortunately, the shell of abalone is very thick and resistant, so you can easily cut and shape the mother of pearl.

The shell of the abalone is made of successive layers of mother of pearl, it is colored in depth, and it is possible to polish the shell without losing the reflections.

Note that mother-of-pearl dust is harmful, and that craftsmen must protect themselves when they work mother-of-pearl in order to avoid developing pulmonary diseases.

To learn more about nacre, visit this more detailed page.

 

For further :

September 19, 2019 — Hugo Maherault

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