mother-of-pearl

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mother-of-pearl or nacre (nā´kər), the iridescent substance that forms the lining of the shells of some fresh-water and some salt-water mollusks. Like the pearl 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.

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mother-of-pearl (nacre) Shiny substance lining many mollusc shells. It consists of a form of calcium carbonate, deposited in layers interspersed with organic material. Diffraction of light causes the lustre and iridescence of mother-of-pearl. It is used in making buttons and jewellery, and for decorative inlay.

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moth·er-of-pearl • n. a smooth shining iridescent substance forming the inner layer of the shell of some mollusks, esp. oysters and abalones, used in ornamentation.