Most of the
mother-of-pearl shells, used by man, are turn into buttons.
(For some time they also used some non-mother-of-pearl shells.) In Italy
there is the highest concentration in the mother-of-pearl button
industry. In the Malacological Museum of Cupra Marittima there is an
unique exposition of the restructured tradition of the button-making
from the beginning of the century to our days. A species used for little
and medium size buttons is in most of the cases Trocus niloticus.
The bigger ones, instead, are made from the shells of Pinctata
margaritifera, Turbo marmoratus and Haliotis. Those made
from Haliotis ("The Ear Shell") are most likely to be
the most particular ones with the iridescent reflect of the pearly
lining reflecting all the shades of blue and green. The commercial value
of these shells is in general the most lowest one. In the museum there
are also exposed the prototype buttons made by the most talented and
respected button-makers of Torre del Greco: Izzo, Ferrigno, Icardi.
These buttons are really pieces of art. There is also presented an old
button-making machine from the button factory of Cannara di Busseto.
The machine enables the cutting of plates of wanted diameter which
afterwards are turned and polished into splended buttons. The modern
plastic buttons have not degrade the appreciation of the unique and
unimitable mother-of-pearl buttons.