Bone and Mother of Pearl Inlay - Everything You Need to Know

Ethically-handcrafted by master artisans in Udaipur and Jodphur, Firefly’s bone inlay furniture are of the highest quality and some of the most coveted that this craft can offer. An eye-catching feature piece for any room, have you ever wondered how these stunning handcrafted furnishings are made?

The art of bone / mother of pearl inlay is specific to the Udaipur region of India, where this meticulous skill is handed down from generation to generation.
Inlay refers to an ancient decorative technique that involves embedding delicate, hand-carved pieces of camel bone /mother of pearl into the surface of an object. The result makes for a striking pattern – often floral or geometric – of contrasting colours and materials that become the focal feature of your home. 

Either mother of pearl or ethically sourced polished bone from camels that have died of natural causes, are used. Three craftsmen are employed to make one piece of inlay furniture: the first hand-carves camel bone / mother of pearl into delicate shapes; the second affixes the pieces onto the wooden frame of the furniture in intricate patterns; while the third fills in around the bone with the coloured resin background to create an immaculately smooth finish. The entire process takes about 3 weeks. Given its natural features, there will be organic variations in the colour of bone / mother of pearl used in any one piece of furniture. In addition, there may be some colour variation in the resin surrounding the inlay work. This is more apparent where the pattern is spread out.

Handcrafted from start to finish by artisans who have learnt techniques passed down through generations, no two pieces of bone inlay furniture are the same. Regardless of the size or inlay pattern, these furnishings take a minimum of three weeks to produce and require remarkable levels of patience, precision, artistry and expertise. 

To clean your bone inlay furniture, wipe with a slightly damp cloth. Harsh cleaning products should never be used. Bone Inlay furniture has a porous surface, so items in high-use situations – such as coffee tables – should be sealed prior to use. Grout sealant (available from any hardware store) is suitable for this task. We also recommend putting a small amount of furniture wax / Vaseline onto your inlay piece from time to time to ensure that the coloured “filler” does not dry out.

Please note that we only work with ethical suppliers who use the bone of camels that have died of natural causes; no animals were killed for the purpose of making these items. We source a select number of bone inlay furniture in limited colourways, so if you have your heart set on something specific we recommend pre-ordering to avoid missing out.