KNOW YOUR PEARLS
What is a pearl?
A pearl is the only gemstone in the world that comes from a living creature. Mollusks, such as oysters and mussels, produce these precious jewels that people have adored since ancient times.
Pearls are famous for the exquisite beauty they posses, which comes from their distinctive glow, often referred to as a jewel’s lustre. Pearls appear in a rich variety of sizes and shapes but the white and almost perfectly round gems continue to be the most popular.
How is a pearl formed?
Formed differently to most gems, pearls are organic creations found in the sea, a natural phenomena that occurs as a part of the defence mechanism of a mollusc shell for foreign substances.
Pearls are a result of a biological process; the oyster’s way of protecting itself from foreign substances.
What is a natural pearl?
Natural pearls are formed organically when an irritant find itself inside the oyster’s soft tissue muscle accidentally. This irritant, such as seawater sand or dust, activates the oyster’s defence mechanism, causing it to produce layers of secretions. The secretion (also called nacre) slowly develops into a natural pearl.
What is a cultured pearl?
A cultured pearl is created by a mussel farmer or oyster under controlled conditions. It involves the process of pearl farmers physically inserting an irritant, such as a shell bead nucleus, inside the soft tissue of the oyster. From there, the layers of nacre are formed naturally, just like with natural pearls.
What is the difference between natural pearls and cultured pearls?
So, the main difference between natural and cultured pearls is the way the secretion process begins.
With natural pearls, the process takes place in the ocean, without any human intervention.
On the contrary, cultured pearls require the assistance of pearl farmers to begin the nacre-forming process.
What are the two types of cultured pearls?
There are two basic varieties of cultured pearls; freshwater pearls and saltwater pearls.
Freshwater pearls are grown primarily in man-made lakes and reservoirs in China. Whereas, saltwater pearls, which include Akoya pearls, Tahitian pearls and South Sea pearls, are grown in bays, inlets and atolls in many places around the world.
Saltwater pearls are considered more valuable than freshwater pearls, although rare and very high-quality freshwater pearls can be exceedingly valuable.
What is a manufactured pearl?
Lab created, or manufactured pearls, are mass produced in factories using the oyster or mollusk shells. Made from the same material as cultured or natural pearls, manufactured pearls offer the same lustrous appearance.
Since these pearls hold a lesser value, they are able to create affordable, yet quality jewellery.
What is a baroque pearl?
Baroque refers to all pearls that aren’t perfect spheres. In other words, if it isn’t perfectly round, it is considered a baroque pearl. They are basically imperfect pearls or irregular shapes and sizes, with dented and uneven surfaces. They often exhibit beautiful lustre and colours.
Interestingly, the imperfections aren’t seen as flaws when it comes to baroque pearls. Rather, they are celebrated for they uniqueness. No two baroque pearls will be exactly alike and every piece of jewellery that utilises baroque pearls showcases something different.