Mother of Pearl or ‘Nacre’ is secreted by the epithelial cells of the mantle tissue of certain species of mollusc. In these molluscs ‘Nacre’ is continually deposited onto the inner surface of the animal’s shell ( the irridescent nacreous layer, commonly known as ‘Mother of Pearl’ ), both as a means to smooth the shell itself and as a defense against parasitic organisms and damaging detritus.
Mother of Pearl is naturally produced by both a variety of fresh-water and sea-water mulluscs, however historically it has mostly been sourced from Pearl Oysters ( Pinctada sp.).
Fresh-water Mother of Pearl, which is generally sourced from China,Australia,tahiti although beautiful in it’s own right, does not have the same levels of lustre or opalescence that can be found in sea-water Mother of Pearl. The Mother of Pearl that is used in Jewellery, Luthier & Furniture inlays, along with many other crafts, is nearly always Sea-Water Mother of Pearl (Pinctada maxima).
Due to it’s superior quality and relative scarcity, sea-water Mother of Pearl commands ‘much’ higher prices than fresh-water Mother of Pearl.