The pure, luminescent mother of pearl has attracted attention for thousands of years. It is made out of the internal shells of mollusks, such as mussels and oysters. Mother of Pearl is commonly found in Egypt, Polynesia and the Philippines, where people from all over the world have traveled to bring it back to their own countries. Royalty from all over the world would use mother of pearl to build palaces and shrines.
There are several different kinds of mother of pearl, and most of them are used in decorative objects or jewelry. There is white mother of pearl, which is created by pearl-bearing oysters, and which has the highest reflective properties. Iridescent mother of pearl is a type in which the colors of pink and green are predominant. Stone mother of pearl is sturdier, and white with lower reflective properties. No matter which mother of pearl artifact you choose to own, you can be assured that it is something that will provide you years of enjoyment!
Two substances actually combine to create mother of pearl. The first is plates of aragonite, a material which is secreted by the mollusk. Aragonite contains calcium carbonate and conchiolin, a natural protein. Alone, the plates are very hard, but also very brittle. As a result, the organism also secretes organic material similar to silk to layer between the plates. The result is a strong, flexible material which can withstand hard use.
Mollusks create mother of pearl to protect themselves. In addition to forming part of the shell, mother of pearl also insulates mollusks from bacterial infection, and reduces irritation from organic material which drifts into the shell. Irregularities often form in the mother of pearl as a result of irritation. If the irritation is extensive enough, the mollusk will form a large bump, prized in the human world as a pearl. Only the outer layer of the pearl is covered in mother of pearl, which is why it is important to care well for pearls so that they do not crack, revealing the source of irritation beneath.