What Does Nacre Do For Your Pearls?

March 15, 2014 by Melissa

Knowing how to pick out the right pearl is a skill. To do this, it’s important that you know a bit about pearls and what makes a piece of pearl jewelry a great addition to your collection.

Nacre isn’t the first thing that you think of when you go look at a pearl, but you might want to know a thing or two about it if you plan on going toe-to-toe with a jeweler. The nacre is a substance that a mollusk secretes to protect itself from foreign objects that may find their way into its shell. When you open a mollusk, you can find the nacre lining the shell of the animal. It’s also known as mother of pearl, which is very appropriate given that it is what literally creates the pearl.

What does it mean for you when picking out a pearl necklace?

Thicker nacre is indicative of a pearl that has been aged for longer, and is more valuable as a result. Thick nacre coatings will be resistant to cracks, and they will often have a better luster than those pearls that have a thin or chipped coating.

Aside from being more valuable, pearls with thicker nacre will also last longer. Since pearls are extremely soft, at least relative to other gems, they are more prone to corrosion by everything from bodily fluids to perfumes, all of which can reduce the nacre coating. A thicker coating will help your pearls last for years, even under the toughest circumstances.

When shopping for the perfect pearl necklace, make sure to check on the thickness of the nacre. A thin coating will be anything less than 0.3mm, while a thick coating is anything above 0.5mm. Anything with a nacre coating above 0.5mm will last for much, much longer and will be more resistant to cracks, chips, and general damage that can reduce the lifespan of a piece of pearl jewelry. You may have to pay more initially, but buying pearls with thicker nacre is a great choice for the long run.