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Mother of Pearl - The Colors, Sizes and Shapes

The Mother of Pearl is an extremely beautiful mineral that is created by living organisms. Mother of Pearls are considered an organic mineral and created by mollusks, either oysters or abalones. These mollusks secrete fine proteins whose chemical compound is calcium carbonate, the same that is found in marble and aragonite.

Mother of Pearls usually secretes calcium carbonate in extremely thin platelets or building blocks that are less than half a micro meter in length. While Mother Pearls are usually a glossy or very shiny white, they can also be a slight gray or iridescent color. The reason for the Mother of Pearls iridescence is because the platelet structure is the same size as the light waves that reflect from it.

The Mother of Pearls while only in white, and sometimes gray are extremely beautiful and used for lots of high quality products. For instance, they can be used chopped up as part of tiles for flooring, it is also used for coating sinks and was once used extensively for buttons on jackets, coats and shirts.

Today, you can find Mother of Pearl on high priced luxurious items such as canes, fine musical instruments, top luxury watches as dials and other designer uses. It should be noted that when handling Mother of Pearl, you should be careful with it and make sure not to expose it to solvents, extreme temperatures or rough handling, it can chip in certain instances. Usually the best way to clean Mother of Pearl is with simple warm water and some dish washing liquid soap.

How and Where is Mother Pearl Formed and Found?

Mother of Pearl is wonderful mineral that is created by living organisms. It is usually called an organic mineral. There are only a few organisms that can create Mother of Pearl, one being oysters and the other abalones. Mother of pearl is created by the Mollusk secreting a substance that is calcium carbonate, or CACO3. This substance is similar to the composition of marble and aragonite.

Platelets of calcium carbonate are secreted by the Mollusk and built upon a specific structure that is less than .5 micrometers thick. This makes for an extremely silky texture and in many cases causes the Mother of Pearl to have an iridescent appearance. The reason for this appearance is because the width of the platelet structure is the same width as many light waves.

Mother of Pearl is secreted by specific cells in the mollusk called the epithelial cells. This substance is primarily secreted to protect itself from parasitic organisms. The substance of Mother of Pearl is the same substance created when an oyster forms a pearl. Usually a parasite or foreign material gets into the oyster and the oyster is unable to remove it. It uses its secretions of calcium carbonate in the process called encystations to cover the particle. The particle is covered in many concentric layers. This particle is present within the oyster for the rest of the oyster’s life.

Besides fine jewelry, Mother of Pearls is used as a home product for floor tiles, as a material on fine instruments and even as the watch hands for some luxury watches. Mother of Pearl can be found in many regions including Japan, Australia, Europe and the United States.

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