Pearls VS mother-of-pearl

What is a Pearl?

A pearl is a hard spherical object that is usually creamy white in colour and highly prized as a gemstone. Pearls are the only gemstones in the world that come from a living creature. Pearls are famous for the exquisite beauty they possess which comes from their distinctive, iridescent glow, often referred to as a jewel’s luster. 


Mollusks such as oysters and mussels produce these precious jewels. When an irritant gets trapped inside a mollusk, in order to protect itself, it coats this irritant with layers upon layers of nacre until it develops into a pearl years later. Pearls can be natural or cultured.

What is mother-of-pearl? 

Mother-of-pearl is the iridescent lining of mollusk shells. The scientific name of mother-of-pearl is nacre and it is an organic-inorganic composite material produced by some mollusks, like pearl oysters, freshwater mussels, and abalone, in their inner shell layer. Nacre is produced and coated on the inside of shells so as to protect them from parasites and foreign irritants. The multicolored iridescence is caused by the way light reflects on the layers of nacre on the shell.

Differences between pearl and mother-of-pearl?

Both mother-of-pearl and pearl gemstones are made of nacre. However, pearls are made completely out of nacre whereas the mother-of-pearl refers specifically to the nacre-coated inner-shell of the mollusk.

The difference between pearls and mother-of-pearl is also placement, which leads to the shape difference. The foreign object being encased in nacre inside the shell ends up as a round-shaped pearl most of the time, whereas the mother of pearl takes the shape of the shell that it lines.

In terms of availability, pearls take longer to form and are rarer than mother-of-pearl, which is why they are typically more expensive.

We shall not dive into the similarities as they are pretty obvious? Apart from both being made by a living creature, both pearls and mother-of-pearl are gorgeous on their own. When properly designed and made into jewellery, the results can be stunning! 

Shop for more pearls and mother-of-pearl jewellery here.