Mother-of-pearl is produced organically inside sea shells. It consists of a blend of minerals secreted by oysters and other marine creatures with shells to protect their bodies from parasites and foreign objects. Although iridescent white mother-of-pearl is the most well-known color, grey mother-of-pearl is more mysterious, reflecting the light in a rainbow prism of ever-changing colors.
Van Cleef & Arpels mainly selects white mother-of-pearl from Australia and grey mother-of-pearl from French Polynesia, whose color, uniformity in appearance, and finish are of the very highest quality. A single shell is used for each timepiece dial. For the Alhambra collection, Van Cleef & Arpels attempts to obtain the most even color with the least amount of iridescence possible.
Symbolically, mother-of-pearl represents maternal, feminine, and protective virtues. It is said to provide security and well-being to those who wear it. It is also the stone for the 42nd wedding anniversary.
Maintaining your mother-of-pearl:
Van Cleef & Arpels recommends cleaning it gently with either a soft dry cloth or clear water. Let the jewelry dry completely before storing. Like pearls, mother-of-pearl fears perfume and body lotion, which can alter its iridescent matter. Therefore, always wait 10 minutes between the application of perfume/body lotion and wearing the jewel. Your mother-of-pearl jewelry will be safer when stored in a soft cotton bag.