Mother of pearl, also called nacre, is an iridescent layer of material, which forms in the shell lining of many mollusks. Mollusks create mother of pearl lining, in order to protect themselves and insulate them from getting a bacterial infection. Mother of pearl is most commonly taken from the pearly lining inside of oysters and abalone.
Many early cultures used mother of pearl extensively in jewelry and it became highly prized due to its iridescent quality and was often seen as a sign of wealth in some cultures. From the modern women’s point of view, having a unique mother of pearl silver pendant provides an elegant alternative or addition to traditional pearls.
Mother of pearl silver pendants are often crafted by taking the first few iridescent layers that are inside the mollusk, these are then cut and sanded into the desired shape needed for the silver setting. Often the jeweler will use a bit of jewelers cement in the base of the setting to secure the mother of pearl before closing the setting. Mother of pearl is a fairly soft material and on the Mohs hardness scale it is only rated at a 3.5. This makes it relatively easy to cut and carve, but it also makes it rather delicate and care should be taken not to wear away its iridescent layer, as it could cause your mother of pearl silver pendant to lose its luster.
While shopping for your mother of pearl silver pendant, you will notice that there is a wide selection of colors and hue’s to choose from, colors range from a natural white, cream and varying shades of brown. Sometimes mother of pearl is either bleached and/or dyed various colors in order to enhance the iridescent qualities present.
When you are shopping for mother of pearl silver pendants, it is a good idea to check and make sure that the mother of pearl inlay is snug within the setting. Check for gaps between the mother of pearl and the silver and avoid those that do have a gap. If a setting is too loose you will risk losing the mother of pearl from its setting. All mother of pearl silver pendants will have a silver hallmark stamped usually on the back of piece, the most common is a .925 mark.
Counterfeit mother of pearl is not common but does happen. Plastic or a combination of plastic and mother of pearl has been used, and usually the price is a good indicator. Counterfeit mother of pearl also does not reflect light as well as genuine mother of pearl and will tend to look dull.
When you have chosen your mother of pearl silver pendant, it is important to take some steps to ensure your piece will last a lifetime. Storing your mother of pearl silver pendant away from other jewelry will ensure that it will not be scratched and wear away the delicate luminous layers. You may want to keep it in a separate compartment of your jewelry box or wrapped in a pouch to provide some protection.
To clean your mother of pearl silver pendant, using a soft Jewelers cloth should remove any tarnish but never submerge the piece into jewelry cleaner, as this can dissolve the cement used in the setting. A trip to the jeweler to have it professionally cleaned once a year is a good idea because at that time, the jeweler will also check the setting.
High quality Mother of pearl silver pendants, will give you many years of joy and beauty with minimal care and will be a welcome addition to any jewelry wardrobe.