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Batch Co-Founders Studio

Why Mother-Of-Pearl Buttons Are Perfect For Mens Shirts

You Can Tell Great Quality At A Glance.

Like a blink test, when you see a product you decide if you like the quality or not. The iPhone, has incredible aluminum. A Tesla with its retractable door handles. But what isn’t understood is why we feel this way. A million small details create one pleasing aesthetic. And with good design, it's the small details that matter the most.

Mother-of-pearl buttons on a shirt is a small design detail that often is overlooked. But if you took the buttons away and replaced them with cheap plastic buttons, what then? You’ve noticed a poor design detail. Mother-of-pearl buttons are the most luxurious button material. They are ten times more expensive than a plastic button, but worth their weight to make a great quality shirt.

The material is strong, resilient, and naturally elegant.

Mother-of-pearl buttons, also known as nacre, are cut from linings of mollusk, oysters, abalone, and snail shells. The nacre lining is the same outer coating of pearls, thus the name “mother-of-pearl.” The material is strong, resilient, and naturally elegant. Since 1770 mother-of-pearl buttons have been used on men’s shirts and cuff links. Other than buttons, the natural material is also used for fine jewelry, decorative tiles, valve keys on brass instruments, and dials on high end watches.



They Have Captivating Brilliance

The various shell types allow for a range in color options: natural shell is an iridescent light color, smoke shell is a charcoal grey, and snail shell is a brown-burgundy color. At Batch, we carefully choose from one of these three button colors that best enhances the shirt style and fabric color. All mother-of-pearl button colors are sought after because of their shimmering natural aesthetic of the aragonite crystals within the nacre layers. When light strikes the crystalline layers, light is reflected from both the upper and lower surfaces at different color wavelengths.

mother-of-pearl buttons subtly shimmer suggesting luxury

shirt with Mother-of-pearl buttons

Mother-of-pearl Buttons Are Strong

Mother-of-pearl buttons can be 2mm, 3mm, or 4mm in thickness. Along with most men’s shirts we use 3mm buttons. The thicker the button, the higher the cost and quality. Mother-of-pearl buttons are more durable than plastic buttons. Plastic residue will deteriorate quicker during washing. Just think how long and old shells live under water normally? We do caution to turn your shirt inside out while washing to protect the button from other objects in the machine that could break the button in half. Think about the shell in the wild again, not a lot of objects come flying at a shell at washing machine speed. So, although mother-of-pearl shells are resistant to abrasion and deterioration, they can be broken if contacted by another hard object.
Collar Design and Sketching Tools

Since we are 247 years past the beginning use of mother-of-pearl buttons, faux mother-of-pearls are widespread. In this case, faux = plastic. Now, here’s the tricky part. The real mother-of-pearl buttons can also be dyed to be any color. So, determining real vs. faux is becoming more difficult. Since knowledge is power, here’s the difference:

1). Tap Test – Take a button and tap it against another similar button or glass. A high ping, it’s real. A dull tap, it’s fake.

2). Back Check – Flip the button to inspect the underside. If the underside has a rigged back and the color doesn’t match the front, it’s real. If the underside has a smooth back and the color is consistent to the front, it’s fake.

3). Temperature Gauge – Close your eyes when conducting this test. A cooler button, it’s real. A warmer button, it’s fake.

4). To Each their Own – Does the top button on your shirt have the exact same markings as the 2nd button? What about the 2nd button compared to the last button? If the buttons are all different in color and markings, they are real. If they are all the same, they are fake.

The next time you pick up a shirt, I bet you’ll stop and consider the buttons. Are they real? Are they adding to this design? Or are the buttons an unwelcome distraction?

Final Thoughts

I’ll leave you with my favorite fun fact about mother-of-pearl buttons. Since it is an ancient natural element, mother-of-pearl is said to stimulate our intuition, imagination, sensitivity and adaptability for those that wear it. Which allows for clear thought processes and better decisions. If you believe in this mumbo jumbo stuff great! Why not – we can all use any extra edge we can get.

Button Harvesting