Spotlight on Mother of Pearl

Some of the very best materials are produced by Mother Nature herself, and we could not be more grateful. This week, we highlight ‘Mother of Pearl’, a mesmerising material used in embellishment within some fundamental pieces of Black & Key furniture.

Black & Key Mother of Pearl Dazzle Handles

Nacre, or the more commonly known term ‘Mother of Pearl’ is an iridescent combination of minerals that are produced by some molluscs as an inner shell layer; it also makes up the outer coating of pearls. It is both strong and resilient, making it the perfect material when used in architecture and carpentry, along with many other things!

Why is it called Mother of Pearl?

Quite simply, it is so named because the shells, with their nacre lining, are the ‘mother’ from which pearls are ‘born.’ Lovely isn’t it?!

How is Mother of Pearl Different from a Pearl?

The easiest way to distinguish Mother of Pearl from an ordinary pearl is that MoP will display an attractive iridescent quality, a distinctive multi-coloured effect with a simple yet stunning glow. Ordinary pearls are also made up of nacre, however this is deposited and built around a tiny particle, eventually forming a pearl over time. These will adopt a smoother appearance, solid in colour and form.

Why do we use Mother of Pearl here at Black & Key?

The attractive nacre coating of sea shells has been used for decorative purposes for thousands of years, in architecture, carpentry, clothing, musical instruments and jewellery.

This material is incredibly versatile, lending itself to be cut and manipulated into shapes of all kinds, creating an elaborate inlay against counterpart materials. Due to its unique iridescent quality, we believe Mother of Pearl creates a premium, high quality finish to any piece in our range.


The Savoy headboard is shown in Macassar, detailed with a mother-of-pearl inlay.
Radial Cabainet is shown in Macassar with radial veneer marquetry on the doors, mother-of-pearl inlay, and Noir feet. 

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