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Ten Things You Need To Know About Selling Mother of Pearl

Because of its subtle sheen and iridescent colors, mother of pearl has never fallen out of fashion. Not only was it used for making jewelry, it has also been used for creating beautiful boxes, forming mosaics, and fashioning carvings. Throughout history, mother of pearl has been a favorite with people the world over. 

At Worthy, we help consumers sell their diamond jewelry for the highest possible price. What we’ve learned about selling diamonds can help you when you are selling mother of pearl too. These rare natural treasures deserve worthy offers. If you're planning to sell mother of pearl, there are ten things you need to know to get the highest possible price.

1) Mother of Pearl is One of the Oldest Forms of Gemstone

Precious mother of pearl is among the oldest forms of gemstone, with some museum pieces dating back thousands of years. It might surprise you to discover that many ancient people got rid of pearls they found inside oysters, preferring to use the nacre (mother of pearl) instead. One of the oldest known pieces of mother of pearl jewelry was found at a Cro-Magnon site dating back to approximately 5,000 BCE. Archaeological digs in China, India, Egypt, and Africa have yielded numerous items made with mother of pearl, including some of the earliest forms of currency.

2) Mother of Pearl is Made Up of Bio-Minerals

While many believe that mother of pearl is a mineral gemstone, it is actually the inner lining from mollusk shells of various types including oysters and abalone. Nacre is made up of bio-minerals including calcite, aragonite, and conchiolin – the same minerals that form pearls. It typically exhibits silvery iridescence, however colors ranging from pink to lavender to blue to yellow or green also occur in nature. Many pieces of mother of pearl are composed of various-colored nacre, and as with so many of nature’s treasures, no two pieces of mother of pearl are exactly alike. 

3) Rarity, Color and Age are Very Important Value Factors

A few factors affect mother of pearl value, including rarity, coloration, and source.  Size and cut affect the value of mother of pearl too; cheap, shoddily cut pieces are much less valuable than carefully cut ones, and large pieces that show the nature of the mother of pearl can be much more valuable than tiny pieces. Finally, age is often an important factor in determining price. Beautiful pieces of vintage mother of pearl jewelry are highly desirable among collectors. 

4) Only Experts Can Detect Imitation Mother of Pearl

Imitation mother of pearl is common and is of little to no value. Often, experts are the only ones who can tell the difference between true precious biogenic stones such as mother of pearl and pearls, and worthless fakes. For this reason, it is vital that you buy and sell mother of pearl with the help of an experienced appraiser. 

5) Mother of Pearl Can Be Found In Many Types of Jewelry

Top-quality mother of pearl is frequently used in crafting modern jewelry. It is also found in vintage jewelry including some truly incredible Victorian and Art Deco pieces. Because it is relatively soft and fragile, it is typically used to make beads and cabochons which are often used in jewelry that contains other precious and semiprecious gemstones, and it is used for carving unique pieces which are often added to designer jewelry. Earrings, brooches, necklaces, and pendants are common, and despite precious mother of pearl’s fragile nature, it often finds its way into rings, bracelets, cufflinks, and shirt studs. Beautifully carved examples made from large pieces of mother of pearl typically fetch good prices, as do antique jewelry and other items. Of particular desirability are mother of pearl jewelry from top designers such as Tiffany & Company, Van Cleef & Arpels, Carrera y Carrera, and Cartier.  

6) Mother of Pearl Is Not Only Used for Jewelry 

Besides luxury jewelry, mother of pearl is also used in decorative art, architecture, fashion and even musical instruments. Laminated nacre is sometimes used to create beautiful mosaics for covering walls, ceilings or furniture. In fashion design, it's very common to see mother of pearl buttons. Refined eaters use nacre spoon-like utensils for eating caviar, since regular metallic spoons can spoil its taste.

7) Pearls vs. Mother of Pearl

Even though both pearls and mother of pearl are found in mollusk shells, the latter is much more common than natural pearls. While all the mollusks that produce pearls have a shell where nacre can be found, not all of them create a pearl. Due to their rarity, pearls are artificially cultured in order to reach the market's demand. This is not needed with mother of pearl, which is more widely available in nature.

8) Ten Colors of Nacre

White, gray, silver, yellow, blue-green, bronze, pink, red, brown, black or banded are some of the colors that mother of pearl can be found in. While the first three are the most commonly found, purple, blue and green nacre -produced by abalone- is more rare and thus more highly valuable. 

9) Some Treatments Can Make Mother of Pearl More Durable 

In some cases, mother of pearl is submitted to treatments to change its color or increase its durability. If a white uniform color is desired, the gemstone is bleached. In many cases mother of pearl is even dyed to produce a different color. In order to increase the stability of nacre, it is sometimes assembled into layers or combined with stone backings, or covered with thin colorless quartz. While these treatments enhance durability, it is important to make them clear to the trader when selling mother of pearl.

10) There Are Many Reasons to Sell Mother of Pearl

  • You can transform unwanted or unused mother of pearl into cash
  • It’s not difficult to sell mother of pearl 
  • The market for high-quality precious mother of pearl is strong
Excellent examples of mother of pearl have recently sold for thousands of dollars, with some of the most exquisite antique pieces fetching upwards of $10,000. If you’d like to sell mother of pearl jewelry, you’ll most likely be pleased at the offers you receive. 

At Worthy, our expert appraisals, descriptions, and photography set the standard for reselling diamonds and jewelry. On our innovative live online auction platform, our network of thousands of professional buyers around the world compete to buy your diamonds and jewelry at the highest price. Because we receive a small percentage of the sales price, we are on your side: we profit only when you do too, unlike jewelry buyers who try to acquire your item for the lowest possible price so they can profit more. Although Worthy is not currently selling mother of pearl, you can subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know when we begin selling gemstones online.