Friday, 26 August 2011

Mother-of-pearl ~

Mother-of-pearl is the common name for nacre.  It's the shiny, reflective part of the inside of the shell which is built up from secretions of the inhabitant.  The perspective of the shellfish is not one that is commonly mentioned or considered.  

Jewellery and objects made from mother-of-pearl can be beautiful:

Shell, like bone, is highly porous, and both readily absorb oils and colouration from any source.  For this reason it is wise to avoid applying body lotions, cosmetics or perfumes where such jewellery has contact with your skin.  Once these have been absorbed into the shell the mother-of-pearl may rapidly lose its sheen, and even become discoloured. 

The necklace below is really beautiful and the beads unusually large and lustrous:

I'm glad I got this second hand however, as the diameter of the beads indicates that the thickness of the shell they were cut from must have been even thicker than they are; it must have been a massive shellfish.  These should be left in the ocean where they belong for as long as the inhabitants are alive. Some shellfish can live to a great age: giant clams can live to be over a hundred years old, and are now endangered due to over-fishing.  

The charming twist of many small beads shown below is very pretty and more likely to have been made from shells that belong to sustainable populations of shellfish:

At some stage I'll add more photographs of machine polished shells which have been ground back to their mother-of-pearl sheen.

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