Quick History: Holy Mother of Pearl!

Mother of Pearl is the inner lining of the mollusk shell. For the mollusk, it prevents against potential threats. For us, it provides a beautiful base for carving into jewelry, furniture, and musical instruments. It’s a strong, iridescent stone that ranges from a pearly white to a dark black color.

A Global History

There is evidence of Mother of Pearl being highly regarded in Mesopotamia, as it was often used to honor royalty. Intricate inlays were placed in silver pieces as far back as 2600 B.C. Scientist interpret this as evidence to the sophistication of the Mesopotamian society.

Although Chinese Mother of Pearl artifacts date back into the Bronze Age of the Shang Dynasty, they didn’t reach immense popularity until the Ming Emperors (1368-1644 AD) ruled. At that time, the stone was used for everything from furniture, jewelry, and clothing for the upper class.

Similar to the Mesopotamian culture, Mother Pearl was used to honor royalty or high-class citizens in Egypt. It has been discovered in ancient pyramids and tombs. The most famous ornament was found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb and may have been presented to him as a way of protection in the afterlife.

Religious followers on pilgrimage journeys to Bethlehem would often take pieces of Mother of Pearl derived from the Red Sea as a souvenir. Bethlehem was able to capitalize on this opportunity because of Franciscan monks who taught the craft in the 15th century. Their craftsmanship has continued into modern day, as Mother of Pearl art is a highly respected industry.

Native American Highlight – Southwest

Mother of Pearl was amongst the many shells exchanged throughout the Southwest by the inhabiting Native American tribes for over 1000 years. It was one of the most common materials used for bead making, adornment, and trade.

Today, Mother of Pearl is still present in the bead-work of several artists from many tribes. The relatively new silversmith techniques have allowed for the shell to be inlaid with silver and other stones to create gorgeous designs.

Mother of Pearl, a beautiful shell that has been prized throughout the globe for thousands of years, brings strengthened intuition and motherly protection to the wearer. What are you waiting for? Fall in love with a piece of Mother-of-Pearl jewelry and be a part of history today.