An oyster shell showing its nacre and pearl

More about mother-of-pearl

Mother of pearl comes from the inside lining of an oyster shell.  The oyster lines its shell with a layer of aragonite (a form of calcium carbonate) called the nacre which smooths the shell surface and helps it to defend its soft tissue against parasites or debris.  If the oyster has a small foreign body in its shell, it will cover it with the nacre – forming the pearl.   As it is the lining of the shell that creates the pearl, it is known as the mother of pearl.

Mother of pearl has been used by Myanmar craftsmen for centuries, making buttons, photo frames, inlay in jewellery and pictures.   To get the mother of pearl, the shell is ground, cut into shape and polished by hand.



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