One of the more popular yet delicate-looking style of urns available is those made with mother of pearl. Also commonly known as nacre, this mineral is an organic material found on the outer coating of pearls, as well as the inner layer of pearl oysters and freshwater pearl mussel shells.
Mother of pearls are made from mollusks, specifically abalones and oysters, which secrete a calcium carbonate, a generally harder mineral. Mother of pearl is not only resilient, but strong and lustrous.
Mother of Pearl Properties and Characteristics
Mother of pearl is typically very glossy or shiny white, but can have a gray or iridescent tint. Its resilience comes from its layered structure, which is flexible and resistant to fractures. It is quite soft in comparison to most metals and gemstones. While this makes the nacre easy to work with, it is more prone to scratches.
The iridescence makes mother of pearl attractive because its aragonite crystals have different ranges of thickness that are very close to the wavelengths of visible light. Some of the light goes through the layers while some are reflected. What makes nacre unique is the small irregularities found on each piece.
Mother of Pearl has New Age and traditional healing properties. Some say it is used to attract prosperity, while others feel it heighten intuition, imagination and psychic sensitivity.
Uses for Mother of Pearl
Today, mother of pearl can be found in a variety of decorative items including architecture, musical instruments, fashion, jewelry, urns and more. When it comes to architectural purposes, nacre is often times artificially tinted to almost any color. It can be cut into shapes and mounted to fiberglass, marble bases or ceramic tiles. They are used to create mosaics that when polished, creates a durable yet glossy finish.
In the fashion world, mother of pearl is used in buttons, as well as in decorate watches and jewelry. Interestingly, a nacre inlay is commonly used in music keys and other motifs on various musical instruments, such as accordion and concertina cases, guitar fingerboards and violin and cello bows.