Mother-of-Pearl is the “nacreous” (that is, containing the organic material “nacre”) inner-shell lining of certain mollusks—the same material that surrounds a natural pearl (also produced by those certain mollusks). Like the shells (and pearls) themselves, the mother-of-pearl comes in a range of colors from white to black—though it is usually iridescent, thus, one can see shades of pink, red, blue, green, purple and gold refracting from the shell.
Mother-of-pearl is formed slowly, over time, as very thin layers of the nacre (secreted by the animal) form an ever-thickening shell around the mollusk. When a grain of sand (or some other “irritant”) enters into the mollusk’s shell, and lodges into the soft tissue of the creature, the nacre will also form around that grain (in an attempt to alleviate the irritation), eventually producing the highly-coveted natural pearl.
Mother-of-pearl is a classic button material and, therefore, oft-used for men’s cufflinks. The white variety provides a versatile, neutral effect—which makes it such a classic button choice. The black mother-of-pearl variety, on the other hand, is adaptable because of the wide range of colors found in the shell’s iridescence.
At LEO Design, we will often suggest black mother-of-pearl for the customer who is just starting his collection of cufflinks. Because of the material’s multi-color iridescence, it is a versatile choice—adaptable to a wide range of differently-colored shirting.
The “Dress Set” shown above—cufflinks, shirt studs, and vest buttons—was made in the 1930's of black mother-of-pearl. Please click on the photo above to learn more about them.
LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed. While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
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