Mother of Pearl

What is mother of pearl (nacre) ? It is a smooth shining iridescent substance formed on the inner layer of some molluscs, like the oyster and abalone.

Mother of pearl has been used for centuries as a decorative inlay on lacquer ware. It was first thought that mother of pearl oyster beds existed in three regions, the Persian gulf, the red sea and the Sri Lanka coast, but explorers soon found pearl oysters throughout tropical waters. The shells were harvested and exported around the world as people became enamored by this lustrous marvel from the sea.

V.I.P Jiu 8 – The Imperial Craft Baijiu
V.I.P Jiu 8 – The Imperial Craft Baijiu

From the 17th century China imported raw shells from Indonesia to make gaming counters. Mother of pearl was popular in the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644) although it had been used in China since the Shang dynasty of (1500 – 1050 BC.)

There are different types of shells, which can range from the size of a football to as small as a grain of rice and come in many shapes and colours. It was used to make amongst other things, gaming counters for rich Europeans. The subject matter was as varied as the artists imagination, from jewellery to pictures and from trays, to room dividing screens.

The main commercial sources of mother of pearl come from the pearl oyster, freshwater pearl mussel and the abalone. Other mollusc families that have a nacreous inner shell layer include the Haliotisae, (Abalone) the Trochidae (sea snail) and the Turbinidae (Turban snail).

Mother of pearl or Nacre, is continuously deposited on the inner surface of the shell. These iridescent nacreous layers smooth the surface of the shell. It also help defend the soft tissue of the creature which inhabits the shell against parasites and damaging debris by entombing them in successive layers of nacre and in doing so pearls and mother of pearl is created.

Pearl Button

45ml of V.I.P Jiu 8
45ml of coconut liqueur
Soda water
3 ice cubes
Half a slice of lemon

Put ice cubes into a small goblet, add V.I.P Jiu 8 and coconut liqueur, stir and add a shot of soda water and garnish with a lemon slice.

Chinese Antique Valuations And Appraisals

Do you own a piece of Chinese porcelain or an oriental work of art that you would like to know more about, such as age, history and value?

Then you should really consider using our Chinese Antique Valuation Service as the last thing you want to do is risk under selling the piece due to lack of knowledge or ill gotten advice.