Abalone vs. Mother of Pearl: What's the Difference?

At GoBeachy, we incorporate both abalone and mother of pearl into many of our ocean-inspired jewelry designs. Some people believe these two materials are interchangeable; however, while they are very similar, abalone and mother of pearl are not the same. In this article, we explore the fundamentals of both abalone and mother of pearl to help you choose the perfect piece.

Mother of Pearl: The Basics

Mother of pearl is a type of nacre, a term that describes the iridescent lining found inside mollusk shells. To protect itself from irritants and parasites, mollusks line the inside of their shell with nacre, and its hallmark iridescence is well known to both shell collectors and jewelry lovers. While nacre is usually found in three different types of mollusks (pearl oysters, freshwater mussels, and abalone), mother of pearl typically refers to the luminous, milky white substance found within pearl oysters. 

Nacre is also the substance from which pearls are formed. When an irritant enters the mollusk’s shell, it coats this irritant with many layers of nacre, creating a pearl over the course of three to four years.

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Mother of Pearl Starfish Ring - GoBeachy
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Mother of Pearl Starfish Necklace - Draft 07062022 - GoBeachy
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Mother of Pearl Single Starfish Bracelet - Draft 05062022 - GoBeachy
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Mother of Pearl Trio Starfish Necklace (Slow Mover) 04092022 2:59pm - GoBeachy

Abalone: The Basics

As mentioned above, abalone is one of the three types of mollusks that develop nacre within their shells. Jewelry sellers usually distinguish between the nacre created by pearl oysters (“mother of pearl”) and by abalone (just called “abalone”). This is because the two substances are very different in appearance: abalone’s nacre gives off a darker incandescence with wild greens and blues, while mother of pearl’s radiance primarily contains whites, creams, and ivories.

see the difference:

Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl

Similar Styles

contrasting aspects


Mother of pearl and abalone can both provide a touch of delicate elegance to any look. Abalone jewelry, often set in .925 sterling silver, makes a dramatic statement; its aquamarine and azure hues echo the deepest waters of the ocean. Mother of pearl jewelry offers a subdued, ethereal refinement, and it pairs well with both sterling silver and gold. Jewelers often incorporate both mother of pearl and abalone into a range of stunning pendants, earrings, rings, and bracelets.


Because abalone and mother of pearl are both widely available (much more so than pearls), they are typically reasonably priced and accessible for those interested in fashion jewelry. At GoBeachy, our stunning mother of pearl and abalone jewelry both begin at just $7.95.


  • Basic cleaning: To clean your mother of pearl or abalone jewelry, wipe it with either a damp or dry soft cloth.

  • Things to avoid: Always stay away from harsh chemicals, baking soda, ultrasonic cleaners, abrasive materials, and alcohol, as these things can destroy the piece’s finish and color.  

  • Eliminating oils and liquids: Using a simple microfiber cloth helps to remove any dirt or oil without scratching the material’s delicate surface. If your jewelry is wet, be sure to let it dry entirely before storing it in a soft silk or cloth bag.

  • Preventing scratches: Mother of pearl and abalone jewelry are quite delicate and prone to scratching. Accordingly, always be sure to remove your jewelry prior to exercise, showering, swimming, or doing household chores. 

  • Save the jewelry for last: It can also help to put your jewelry on last when getting ready, so your mother of pearl/abalone jewelry is not subjected to the chemicals contained within cosmetics, perfumes, and hair products. 

natural brilliance

Abalone and mother of pearl jewelry work well for both casual and formal looks due to their natural brilliance. Take special care when wearing and cleaning jewelry made from these delicate materials, as they are prone to scratching when handled roughly. If you are looking for the perfect mother of pearl or abalone piece for your jewelry box, shop GoBeachy’s collection today.

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