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(nā`kər), the iridescent substance that forms the lining of the shells of some fresh-water and some salt-water mollusks. Like the pearlpearl,
hard, rounded secretion formed inside the shell of certain mollusks, used as a gem. It is secreted by the epithelial cells of the mantle, a curtain of tissue between the shell and body mass, and is deposited in successive layers around an irritating object—usually a
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 it is a secretion of the mantle, composed of alternate layers of calcium carbonate and conchiolin. Among the chief sources are the pearl oyster, found in warm and tropical seas, chiefly in Asia; freshwater pearl mussels, which live in many rivers of the United States, Europe, and Asia; and the abalone of California, Japan, and other Pacific regions.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also nacre), the internal layer of the shell of bivalve and gastropod mollusks; it is attached to the mantle, from which it is secreted. Mother-of-pearl consists of thin plates of aragonite (a variety of calcium carbonate) that are distributed parallel to the surface of the shell. It is distinguished by an iridescent sheen, which results from the interference of the light reflected by its surface. Mother-of-pearl is used for making ornaments, buttons, and other items.

Mother-of-pearl of saltwater origin is obtained from the shells of gastropods of the genera Turbo, Trochus, and Haliotis, as well as from the shells of bivalves of the genera Pteria and Mytilus. These mollusks inhabit the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and the waters off Australia and the Philippines. Mother-of-pearl of freshwater origin is obtained from the shells of bivalves of the family Unionidae. In the USSR, mother-of-pearl is obtained principally in the Bashkir ASSR, the Tatar ASSR, Moscow and Voronezh oblasts, the Ukrainian SSR, the Northern Caucasus, and the Far East. Pearls are a special variety of mother-of-pearl.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


[′məth·ər əv ′pərl]
(invertebrate zoology)
The pearly iridescent internal layer of the shell of various pearl-bearing bivalve mollusks.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a hard iridescent substance, mostly calcium carbonate, that forms the inner layer of the shells of certain molluscs, such as the oyster. It is used to make buttons, inlay furniture, etc.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
At that time traditional lacquered dressers and closets decorated with the mother-of-pearl inlay were common.
A pair of earrings with the snowcap mother-of-pearl emblem can also be transformed into more elaborate creations by adding the detachable pendants that create a cascading effect with shimmering diamonds and pearls.
"But nacre, or mother-of-pearl, which coats the inner shells, is made up of microscopic tablets that are a bit like miniature Lego building blocks, is known to be extremely strong and tough, which is why people have been studying its structure for the past twenty years," said Professor FranASSois Barthelat from McGill's Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Crowned in thorns, urchins on the halfshell top a basket of uncleft fruits de mer , their briny, sweet, shucked nothings laid bare on mother-of-pearl. De-li-cieux , he says, a bunch of fingertips blossoming forth from a kiss his lips mimic ...
From seashell to mother-of-pearl, stingray to silver leaf, ebony to eggshell -- they know where to find it and, just as important, how to incorporate it into their home products in a highly skillful way.
Iridescent formula: miniscule particles of mother-of-pearl play with the light for intense, coloured radiance and a subtly metallic finish.
Tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, silver, and gold were the luxe materials often used to decorate these small boxes that might also be set with precious stones, their lids typically adorned with enamels or portraiture.
Other items include gift items, silver jewellery, seagrass bags and mother-of-pearl bags and jewellery, Thai silk accessories, ceramics, gift wraps, charity greeting cards for all occasions and Arabian souvenirs.
Of particular interest to the couple are objects made of rare and precious materials such as tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, ivory and rock-crystal, of which they have formed an extensive group of caskets and vessels.
QUIZ OF THE DAY: 1 The pH scale; 2 Shimon Peres; 3 Pearl Harbor; 4 The penny; 5 Mother-of-pearl; 6 Cary Grant; 7 Blackburn Rovers; 8 Fake blood; 9 Cracklin' Rosie; 10 Phil Collins.
There are considerable differences in the quality of mother-of-pearl. The sea variety is shinier than the fresh-water due to the high-salt content and the furniture is made from a mix of the two.
For pounds 45,000, Italian design house Studio M will adorn your 500 with 24-carat gold paint, mother-of-pearl trim and cashmere floormats.