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Mother of pearl

With a mesmerising lustre and intriguing iridescence, mother of pearl is one of nature’s most luminous gifts.

Fact: 1 of 5

It's not an actual pearl

Mother of pearl (or nacre) is not an actual pearl, but rather the pearly inner layer found within certain types of mollusc shells. Consisting mainly of calcium carbonate, it is created by the mollusc as a way of protecting itself from parasites.

Fact: 2 of 5

Let the light in

Mother of pearl has a platelet structure which reflects light and produces its renowned iridescent sheen.

Fact: 3 of 5

Giving birth to the pearl

A pearl is created from layers and layers of nacre or mother of pearl forming together. Mother of pearl essentially “gives birth” to the pearl, thus the reason behind its name.

Fact: 4 of 5

It’s an organic gemstone

It originates from a living creature, plant or organism and is primarily made up of calcium carbonate.

Fact: 5 of 5

Has associations with family and motherhood

Mother of pearl is often associated with family and motherhood. It represents harmony, calmness, positivity and intuition.

The look

Although not many know this, mother of pearl can be virtually any colour. It's often light in tone, with a pearly lustre and an iridescent effect.


After the mother of pearl is cut from the shell of the oyster, it's sometimes bleached to produce a uniform white colour or dyed a range of attractive colours. A light polishing is applied to accentuate the pearlescent effect. Mother of pearl is often cut into fancy shapes for jewellery use. Traditionally, the shaping is done by hand, but it can also be achieved using modern laser cutting technology (CNC). In ancient times, mother of pearl was also used for mosaics, created with tiny pieces of the luminous gem.


Mother of pearl has a hardness of 3.5-4.0 on the Mohs scale. With fair toughness, it's reasonably durable, but it's particularly susceptible to damage from acids, solvents and ultrasonic cleaning.

How to care for it

Rough surfaces may cause scratching or chipping. Jewellery should be stored separately in a protective box or pouch. Direct sunlight and drier climates may dry out mother of pearl and create cracks. Wearing mother of pearl is one of the best ways of caring for it, as contact with natural skin oils help maintain the lustre of the gem. Clean using a soft cloth dampened in lukewarm, soapy water and wipe the surface gently.

Keep your Pandora sparkling

Keep your Pandora collection as sparkly as you are! Discover how to clean your jewellery and give it the care it deserves.

Care set
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