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Mother of Pearl Brooch w/Goldtone Details

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Mother of Pearl Jewelry17 of 43Carved Mother of Pearl Broach?Strand Necklace Wood & Seed Beads and ?
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    Posted 4 years ago

    (14 items)

    This is a thrift store find. It looks like a Mother of Pearl shell which has a cutout design enhanced with gold details. Does anyone know what that is called? I have never seen this type of brooch before. Any help to date it will also be appreciated. Thanks!

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    1. FridaysJoy FridaysJoy, 4 months ago
      This looks very much like a fancy version, possibly synthetic, of a Bethlehem star. The real ones are carved from MOP by hand, and have been popular and inecpensive souvenirs of the Holy Land for centuries. Every other visitor to Jerusalem picks up at least one, and as a result they have, until recently, been ubiquitous—and inexpensive—on the ‘net. But I’ve noticed that lately that’s changing. A colleague in the UK sent me an auction-catalogue listing for an antique one which, though damaged, was up for 500 pounds. Plainly, these are good investment pieces.
      Most Bethlehem stars have 5 arms, some have 7 or 8; some are doves of peace; some are 6-pointed Stars of David or crosses; there are even elaborate nativity scenes. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate them. No matter how simple or complex, they’re all quite special, and I’ve collected them for years without ever suspecting that one day they’d be hot properties.
      Mother-of-pearl carving is a traditional handicraft in Bethlehem, said to have been brought to the city by Franciscan friars from Italy in the 15th century. The first exhibition in the West of mother-of-pearl artifacts from Palestine was at The World’s Fair in New York in 1852. Two brothers, Giries and Ibrahim Mansur, exhibited their work and were a great success. Owing to the Mansur Brothers, the West discovered carved MOP and it has been popular ever since.
      In past times, most of the oysters for Israel’s mother-of-pearl supply came from the Red Sea, which as recently as 2009 had a robust mollusk population. Today, however, the Red Sea has suffered a sharp decline in species and many are endangered. Therefore Australia, California, New Zealand, and Brazil are the main source of the MOP used in many, but not all, recent Bethlehem stars.
      Yours looks to be made from acrylic, or else I'm reading the photo wrongly, but it does look very much like at least a riff on a Bethlehem star. To see four real ones, come visit me.
    2. laniebogs laniebogs, 4 months ago
      Thank you so much for the information. I had no idea what the brooch was. Funny, I also had found a costume necklace and clip earring set. It is not MOP, but it is this same type of design with an acrylic inset. I had never seen one of those either. So you just explained that one also! Thank you for your time and information. I will visit you to see the real one!

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