A Definitive Guide To All Things Mother of Pearl Jewellery

A Definitive Guide To All Things Mother of Pearl Jewellery 

Ever wondered what is a mother of pearl and what types of mother of pearl jewellery are available? We give you the lowdown on all things mother of pearl jewellery below.

Words by Sam Bailey

Coco Chanel may have been the first to make pearls a fashion statement, but now every iteration and type of pearl has become popular in jewellery, with mother of pearl jewellery at the heart of the pearl obsession.

While Chanel was famous for layering mother of pearl necklaces, the trend has definitely moved towards all types from plain necklaces to mother of pearl earrings, mother of pearl bracelets and mother of pearl pendant pieces.

Just look to Sarah Jessica Parker who made a single mother of pearl necklace strand famous in Sex and The City or Harry Styles who has made mother of pearl necklace chokers big for men. 

Or for queen energy if you will, you only need to look to Amal Clooney wearing mother of pearl earrings in tear drop form or Gigi Hadid wearing irregular shaped mother of pearl earrings (just like our Keshi Pearl Earrings) to know all mother of pearl jewellery types are in.

But before we talk about the mother of pearl jewellery we’re loving and give you a hot take of our edits this season we want to make sure you have all the pearls of wisdom you need (such as what is mother of pearl)so you can select the highest quality mother of pearl jewellery and know how to take care of it.

Discover all things mother of pearl jewellery by checking out our guide to pearls that features both a Q&A and curated edit of the latest mother of pearl jewellery available at Francesca below.


A Modern Girl’s Guide To What Is Mother Of Pearl

We take it you know what a pearl is and can easily distinguish it due to its luminescent nature, afterall you’ve stumbled upon our site so you have likely browsed our beautiful mother of pearl jewellery collection.

But do you know what makes pearls that way or what is a mother of pearl exactly, and how different pearls are formed? Let us give you the lowdown. 

When it comes to mother of pearl jewellery there are a few simple things you may want to learn so you know exactly what you’re getting. Such as the basics like how is mother of pearl harvested (i.e. is it direct from mother nature?) and is mother of pearl a gemstone or is mother of pearl shell?

We do a deep dive on your common mother of pearl Q&A below, read on for pearl tips and products below…

Q. What is mother of pearl?

Let’s start with the fact a mother of pearl is not a ‘pearl’ per say it’s a description of the shade, the iridescent substance found in the inner layer of mollusk shells, called nacre.

Often people confuse the mother of pearl shell for the pearl object found within the shell, but the two are separate things. What may be confusing is that jewellery can be labelled as ‘mother of pearl jewellery’ such as a ‘mother of pearl necklace’ and people often associate a pearl necklace as being the same thing.

However pearl fans we’re here to confirm that the texture, shape and luminescent quality of mother of pearl shell (nacre) will always be different to that of a singular, circular pearl.

The simplest way to understand it is: mother of pearl is the inside lining of a mollusk (nacre) or a mother of pearl shell, while pearls are formed from the nacre and born out of the shell to become their own formation.


Q. How is mother of pearl harvested? 

First things first, let’s talk how mother of pearl is made as that will help explain ‘how is mother of pearl harvested?’

In a nutshell, when pearl farmers or any stimulus irritates the inside of the shell, mollusks secrete ‘nacre’ that forms along the surface of the shell giving that iridescent glow known as mother of pearl. 

Nacre is very common, but producing beaded pearls isn’t, so when it comes to just ‘how is mother of pearl harvested?’ that part is simple. Pearl farmers or oyster farmers simply scoop the mollusks out of the freshwater, sea or farm they are grown in. However each country and location varies as to the type of mother of pearl harvested.

For example, did you know, Australia and New Zealand produce some of the most vibrant and lustrous mother of pearl shells (found in abalone) in the world with all different shades from blue, green and purple?

However, abalone itself cannot produce pearls, mollusks that produce pearls are quite rare which is why pearls are valuable. This also explains for those wondering ‘is mother of pearl a gemstone?’ No it’s not, as it’s only a shell.

Q. How do you care for mother of pearl jewellery?

Much the same way you would any other jewellery - with lots of gentle TLC. The main difference to other jewellery types like sterling silver or solid gold metals is that mother of pearl jewellery is much more delicate.

Due to the fragile nature it’s important to learn how to clean mother of pearl jewellery and also be mindful how much exposure it gets to water. 

A basic principle when it comes to how to clean mother of pearl jewellery is to think: chemical free, careful touch and cleaning the surface sans water.

Sure pearls and mother of pearls may come from freshwater or the sea but the iridescent nature of the nacre (be it in pearl form or mother of pearl shell) is delicate and can be easily harmed with exposure to too much irritants including water or chemicals like chlorine found in pool water.

Two reasons for this: if you are wearing a mother of pearl necklace for example, the string will become wet and in time this will wear down the necklace and also lead to concerns such as is mother of pearl durable.

Second, if exposed to hot water such as in a shower it can harm the nacre so in this case if wondering can mother of pearl get wet we recommend no. However outside of the shower, pool or beach it’s still recommended to wear them often as pearls get better with wear.

As for how to clean mother of pearl? Keep it simple by using a microfibre cloth either just lightly damp or dry to brush over the surface and polish it back to luminous perfection. 

Or if it’s a mother of pearl necklace and you can tell the pearls are getting a build up of debris use a light brush of a toothbrush around the edge to remove grime.

Q.What pearls and mother of pearl jewellery are in right now?

We’re so glad you asked, as we’re loving all things pearl and mother of pearl jewellery and have a range of beautiful pearl collections at Francesca right now, as inspired by celebrity style trends mentioned above.

See our mother of pearl jewellery and general pearl edits below with links to the direct collections. And yes, you don’t even need to ask, ‘can you wear mother of pearl everyday?’ If Harry Styles can, you can too. 

Mother of pearl jewellery pieces:

  • For mother of pearl rings we adore: Fable Ring 


Pearl jewellery selects:

To browse more mother of pearl jewellery go to our pearl page directly here

Alternatively, to learn how to wear mother of pearl shell be it: mother of pearl pendant, mother of pearl bracelet, mother of pearl earrings or mother of pearl rings see our Instagram page here for style inspo.

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