Mother of pearl, or nacre, is produced from the lining of pearl oysters, abalone, or freshwater mussels. For thousands of years, artisans have used a sophisticated process to work with this opalescent substance in order to create art.
As far back as 4200 BC, the Egyptians used this sought-after material as decorations or adornment for the royals and elites of society. The craft continued through early Mesopotamian civilization and the Yi dynasty of Korea and is commonly used today all over the globe in housewares, jewelry, and even urns.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Are Mother of Pearl Urns for Ashes?
- Types of Mother of Pearl Urns for Display
- Types of Mother of Pearl Cremation Jewelry
- Types of Mother of Pearl Urns That Can Be Buried
Whether you are looking for urns to be displayed, worn as jewelry, or buried, you’ll find several unique and beautiful options from which to choose. Take a look below to find something suitable for your loved ones.
What Are Mother of Pearl Urns for Ashes?
Understated in their opulence, mother of pearl urns for ashes are nonetheless durable and eye-catching. Artists begin with a base material such as bronze, ceramic, or wood, then apply the nacre as a decorative element.
Types of Mother of Pearl Urns for Display
Below, you’ll find a selection of urn choices ranging from different designs and colors to various materials. No two urns will be alike, as no two patterns of mother of pearl, or nacre, are the same.
1. Rose or butterfly on deep burgundy
If your loved one had a beautiful, buoyant personality, try out this idea for an urn. The contrast between burgundy and the light iridescent hues of mother of pearl makes for a striking urn that you’ll want to leave on prominent display.
2. Vintage Korean Bun-cheong stoneware
Used by both the aristocracy and commoners alike, this white porcelain ware was often used in Buddhist rituals. Because it replaced a much finer clay, or celadon, additional art was applied to “dress up” the pottery. In some cases, artists used nacre.
Pro-tip: Scroll through online marketplaces and make sure to find one with a sealable lid.
3. Emerald green brass with striped inlay
While offered in various sizes, choose one that suits your regal, Irish pup. Whether you have a setter, terrier or spaniel, celebrate your dog’s lineage with an homage to Ireland's lush green landscapes.
Pro-tip: If you're looking to share ashes among family members, choose the smallest size. It will hold about a tablespoon amount of ashes.
4. Blue lacquer urn with mother of pearl cross
The color blue has many meanings. In the Bible, Numbers 15:38 associates the color blue with divineness. In other instances, the color exemplifies calmness and serenity. The cross inlaid on a blue lacquer urn is very appropriate, especially for any loved one with great faith.
5. Mother of pearl hummingbird
For those nature-inspired loved ones, choose some wildlife to honor them. For instance, hummingbirds have profound meaning across many cultures. In some, they are messengers between the living and their ancestors. Yet, in others, they are reflections of joy and adaptability.
6. Black lacquer with clef note
If your loved one’s passions were synonymous with music, the remarkable contrast of a black lacquer urn with a radiant musical note makes for an ideal choice. Whether they played the piano or accordion, or read sheet music for another instrument, the black and white theme stands out.
7. Polished brass with paw prints
Delicately crafted paw prints are inlaid on regal-looking lacquered brass for your furry loved one. If you like, you can choose to have the urn engraved with your loved one’s name and some dates.
8. Matte metal urn with moon inlay
For Pagan Funerals, look for something that signifies the earth or moon and its phases. You’ll discover some gorgeous inlay work for that loved one who appreciated life’s moments at all times of the day or night.
Types of Mother of Pearl Cremation Jewelry
With eye-catching inlay, most mother of pearl jewelry will be less than subtle, so here are some standout pieces from which to choose.
Cremation jewelry tip: Instead of wearing urn jewelry made with mother of pearl, you could add a cremation diamond to any of the ideas below. Eterneva creates real diamonds out of cremated remains, and you can add your diamond to any pendant, bracelet, ring, or other piece.
Join Cake's monthly newsletter.
Learn all you need to know about end-of-life.
11. Jewelry ‘boxes’
If you’re concerned with the affordability of an urn, search for an artist’s marketplace online. Many artists from Egypt to Korea (and beyond) have crafted wood-based jewelry boxes with stunning nacre inlay at reasonable pricing.
Pro-tip: This will make for a lovely and creative urn if you’re seeking something jewelry-related.
12. Black walnut, stainless steel, and mother of pearl
The stunning contrast of dark, natural wood with polished steel and shimmery nacre creates a durable pendant.
13. .925 sterling silver heart with mother of pearl inlay
Wear your heart next to your heart with a handcrafted creation. Choose from detailed metal work or a more prominent display of mother of pearl.
14. .925 sterling silver teardrop with mother of pearl inlay
You can customize this beautiful piece with some engraving on the back. And, if you follow the care instructions, your artisan jewelry should last for generations.
15. Nineteenth-century Victorian gold mourning locket
Vintage pieces may need some repair or new chains and will act as both a locket for ashes and a statement piece.
Pro-tip: Trust your local jeweler to make any repairs needed to ensure the piece's stability over time.
16. Cremation bracelet
If you’re not a necklace person, there is the option of a cuff bracelet. Although this may not be an engravable item, you’ll still hold your loved one near whenever it’s worn.
17. Angel wings with mother of pearl heart
For the little angels that left too soon, you have the option of a .925 sterling necklace. Even though it's only the size of a quarter, you can still engrave it with their name.
18. Silver paw with inlay
Either gold-plated or sterling silver, this necklace can be worn in memory of your fur baby. Because the urn itself isn’t very big, you may want to ask a funeral director to help you to fill it.
19. Cross with birthstones and mother of pearl
If you’re looking for cremation jewelry that is also a statement piece, we’ve found it. This gorgeous piece of jewelry will honor any devout Christian, whether they are your mother, daughter, or best friend.
Types of Mother of Pearl Urns That Can Be Buried
Although the inlay is beautiful enough to display in a place of honor inside your home, some will choose to lay to rest or inter the urns inside columbariums. If you are seeking this as an option, consider some of the following options.
20. Saltwater black mosaic paragon
Black, green, gray, and white tones are prominently displayed on this rectangular-shaped urn. With a soft felt interior, you’ll feel secure that your loved one is safe within an elegant art piece.
21. Mosaic-covered urn with matching keepsake
To remind you of your loved one, you may want to purchase a matching keepsake to hold with you in your home.
Pro-tip: Funeral homes will make sure the ashes are placed in the urns for you. So, even if you find something online, they’re still more than willing to assist you.
22. Polished brass and mother of pearl urn
If your loved one wants to be buried inside a columbarium, a simple and brass urn will make for a beautiful final place of rest.
23. Bronze urn with inlay
A stunning hand-crafted and hand-etched urn will greatly honor your loved one as they are put to rest. Choose from engraving the urn or purchasing a small plaque with their name or a note inscribed.
Pro-tip: Look for threaded lids to safeguard your loved one.
24. Nickel-plated brass urn with patterned nacre
Hand-polished nickel has a much softer look compared to that of brass or bronze. It’ll work for a loved one who was both beautiful and had a gentler side.
25. Hand-painted faux mother of pearl on porcelain
Porcelain is another choice for material and must be painted to assume an all-over faux pearl finish. Look for these in any number of shapes to include teardrops.
26. Ceramic urn with faux mother of pearl glaze
The very same iridescent look of mother of pearl can be applied to ceramics, then kiln-fired. The option here is that you’ll be able to choose from more distinct pastel hues such as pink, yellow, or blue.
27. Pear or apple-shaped infant urn with inlay
Fruit-shaped urns represent a kind of wholesomeness for sweet, pure, and innocent souls. The urn can be personalized, but not engraved.
28. Spinning top-shaped child’s urn with inlay
Gone too soon but ever-present in your heart, this urn represents a spirited soul. Similar to the fruit-shaped urns, this one can be personalized, but not engraved.
Artisan-Crafted Urns With an Understated Opulence
For centuries, skilled artisans from all over the globe have been perfecting the process of nacre inlay to create one-off pieces. As an inlay for urns, hopefully you discovered several options from which to choose both materials and designs.
- Bible Gateway passage: Numbers 15:38-41 - New International Version. www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+15%3A38-41
- Bun-cheong: The Lost Art. (2016). Korean-Arts. www.korean-arts.com/about/bun-cheong_the_lost_art.htm
- Clifford, G. (2020). Hummingbird Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens). World Birds. www.worldbirds.org/what-does-a-hummingbird-symbolize/
- Nazaryan, S. (2019). What is Mother of Pearl? Everything You Need to Know. Laguna Pearl. www.lagunapearl.com/blog/2019/02/13/what-is-mother-of-pearl/
- Ward, F. (1998). The History of Pearls. PBS. www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/history-pearls/