Monday, September 20, 2010

Term for the Day: Mother-of-Pearl

Mother-of-Pearl, scientifically, is called nacre.  Nacre lines the interior of the shells of certain kinds of mollusks.  This layer of nacre serves to create a smooth surface on the interior of the shell that protects the organism’s soft tissue.  When debris or a foreign object enters the shell, the creature secrets nacre around the object.  The nacre creates a hard, smooth surface around the debris—thus forming a pearl.  So, the term, “Mother-of-Pearl” is quite accurate. 
Mother-of-Pearl can be extracted from shells and has been used for centuries for decorative purposes.  Its iridescent qualities and the variety of colors that it exhibits make it a beautiful material to use for everything from jewelry to furniture.

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