REAL mother of pearl grips are cut from sea shells. Once the grip shape is cut, they can tend to be quite delicate, as they are composed of naturally "laminated" layers of shell structure, that tends to de-laminate under any pressure. They break easily.
Most "mother of pearl" grips are actually plastic or other synthetic made to look like shell material, and tend to be quite cheesy looking IMHO, whereas the real stuff looks better, but is brittle. I think that is why real mother of pearl is more show than go.
Another material that is similar, but more durable, is turtle shell, big turtles that is. If you can find these, or have access to teh material and make some, they are pretty tough.
When a news correspondent asked George Patton why he carried his pearl handled revolvers he said something like, "These are ivory. Only a cheap New Orleans pimp would carry a pearl handled gun." General Patton being one of my favorite heroes, after I read that I could never consider mother of pearl stocks for my use.
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