Mother of Pearl
|Mother-of-pearl is the basic substance which is secreted by oysters and molluscs to form the inside of their shells.|
It is the same substance which forms pearls. Until it was replaced by plastic in the mid-20th century mother-of-pearl was also used to produce shiny buttons for clothing. This was the case in Broome Australia, a well-known South Sea pearl producing area. Before South Sea pearls became the main product of the area, this small town thrived on the Pinctada maxima mother-of-pearl business.
Mother-of-pearl is now used extensively as the nucleus in pearl cultivation. The shell of a mussel is cut into squares and then run through a process which rounds the pieces into beads. These beads are then implanted into the oysters which will respond to the irritation by secreting nacre upon the mother-of-pearl beads to form the cultured pearl.