Some traditions never get old, and that certainly holds true for a group of artisans in Egypt. For more than 4,500 years, intricate inlay work has been used in Middle Eastern countries for decorative furniture and art pieces. Today, craftsmen use the same techniques to create striking handmade jewelry boxes for National Geographic Store. Perfect for storing trinkets and treasures, our Egyptian Mother-of-Pearl Inlaid Boxes are one-of-a-kind and ideal on top of a dresser or end table to bring a little piece of the world home.

Inlay work has an extensive history dating back to the late 6th century BC, and is the defining feature to our Egyptian jewelry box. Inlay is a decorative technique in which artisans lay materials of contrasting colors and textures to form a pattern or picture. In its beginnings, inlay work was used to adorn wooden shrines with hieroglyphical and figural elements, and later was used on wooden coffins and mummy covers.

Before our jewelry boxes are decorated, beech-wood is cut and nailed

together by artisans depending on how they wish to shape the box, which

could be anything from a rectangle to an oval to a heart.

For the inlay stage, artisans use paua blue shells, white resin

and hundreds of hand-cut pieces of mother-of-pearl, which give the

boxes its iridescent beauty.

[Egyptian Inlaid Boxes] Throughout history, some cultures placed little value on pearls now used for lavish jewelry pieces, and instead focused on the luminescent mother-of-pearl. The substance is found in mollusks as its inner shell layer, or lining. Techniques to cultivate mollusks and cut its pearl to be used in art dates back to the 1600 BC during China’s Shang Dynasty.

Mother-of-pearl carvings were once offered to the gods in Ancient China in exchange for good luck. In Ancient Mesopotamia, mother-of-pearl inlays were buried in the tombs of royalty. Egyptians, along with the Romans, have been known to prize pearls above all other gems.

[Egyptian Inlaid Boxes_2] The mother-of-pearl used for these jewelry boxes is cut into pieces and inlaid onto the once-plain wooden boxes. The pieces are arranged in an arabesque design, a decorative style used by artists for centuries. The design is meant to represent twining scrolls of branches or leaves and other ornate lines. During the Renaissance in Europe, arabesques adorned manuscripts, furniture pottery and even walls.

Once the design is in place, it is smoothed down using sand paper.

Some boxes are inlaid both inside and outside, and can be

complete after this step.

But, our artisans line the inside with tan velvet, giving the box a lush finish.

For the artisans, the final product is more than just a box, but a piece of art

that requires patience, detail and craftsmanship.

Our Egyptian Mother-of-Pearl Inlaid Boxes come in two sizes, small and large, or can be bought as a set. The boxes tell a unique story of Egyptian culture and popular art forms that have been around for centuries, and many years to your paragraph here.


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