So, what exactly is “Mother of Pearl”?

A number of the products that The FAIR Trade Store sells on this website feature mother of pearl and I sometimes get asked what it is exactly?

So to help out, I’ve explained below how it is formed and what it is used for – together with a few tips on how to care for your precious items.


Also called nacre, it is a hard, smooth, iridescent substance – mostly calcium carbonate – that forms the inner layer of the shells of certain molluscs, such as pearl oyster, freshwater pearl mussel and abalone shells.

In short, molluscs create mother of pearl to protect themselves from parasites and foreign objects and over time, many layers build up.

Incidentally, nacre is also what makes up the outer coating of pearls!


As a result of these special characteristic, it is used as an inlay or feature piece in jewellery and jewellery boxes.
It comes in several natural colours, but is often bleached and dyed for decorative use. The dye retains the shimmering layers which make the material so sought after.

The international trade is governed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an agreement signed by more than 170 countries.

Like other substances found in nature, it develops irregularities as it forms.
As a result, every piece of jewellery or inlay is slightly different – a fact that adds to its unique appeal.


Remember, nacre is a tough and resilient material, but it is relatively soft and easily scratched.
Therefore it should not be stored with anything that might scratch them.
They should be cleaned with mild soaps and water; harsher cleaning agents may react with the aragonite, especially if they are acidic.
So treasure your mother of pearl jewellery and take good care of it.

What’s your favourite piece of jewellery? Why not leave a comment below to tell us why you love it so much?” – Paul