pearl is formed when a small object, typically
a parasite or piece of organic matter, becomes embedded in the tissue
oyster or mollusk. In response, the mantle tissue of the mollusk
secretes nacre. As the nacre builds up in layers, it surrounds the
irritant and eventually forms a pearl. It is a myth that a grain
of sand can cause a pearl to form, as nacre will not adhere to inorganic
are three main types of pearls: cultured, natural and imitation. Natural
pearls are pearls that are created more or less without
any human intervention, and are very rare. Cultured pearls are
created by an oyster, but the pearls growth is stimulated by implanting
a foriegn object into the tissue of an oyster or mollusk. Imitation
pearls are not created by an oyster, but are usually glass
or some other man-made material coated to create the illusion of
a pearls lustre.
There are five main
factors that go into gauging the value of a Pearl: Lustre, Surface,
Shape, Color and Size.
is the way a pearl reflects light. Pearls with low lustre appear
yellow, chalky or dull rather than shiny.
absence of disfiguring spots, bumps or cracks on the surface of a
pearl tend to make it more desirable. The cleaner the surface of
the pearl, the more valuable.
is very rare to find a perfectly round pearl, but the rounder the
pearl, the more valuable it is. Baroque pearls, which are asymmetrical
in shape, can still be lustrous and appealing, and they often cost
less than round pearls.
pearls come in a variety of colors from rose to black. While the
color of a pearl is really a matter of the wearers preference,
usually rose or silver/white pearls tend to look best on fair skins
while cream and gold toned pearls are flattering to darker complexions.
pearls are measured by their diameter in millimeters. They can be
smaller than one millimeter in the case of tiny seed pearls, or as
large as twenty millimeters for a big South Sea pearl. The average
sized pearl sold today is between 7 and 7-1/2 millimeters.
no gemstone quite like the pearl. Treasured throughout the ages,
pearls are now more readily available than ever before. There are
four main categories of pearls: Akoya, Freshwater, South Sea, and
Akoya pearls are still considered among the best pearls in the
world. Fine Japanese Akoya pearls are rounder than
most other pearls and possess very high luster. Born of the saltwater
oyster Pinctada fucata, Akoya pearls are produced in sizes
from 3mm-10mm, in round, symmetrical and baroque shapes. Akoya
pearls are also grown in China. For the past decade, Chinese pearl
farmers have made great strides in their pearl culturing techniques.
saltwater varieties are produced in the South Pacific; Australia,
Indonesia and the Philippines grow large white, cream and golden South
Sea pearls in 10mm-16mm sizes, sometimes reaching 20mm. Born
of the saltwater oyster Pinctada maxima, these South Sea
beauties are among the world's largest and most lustrous pearls.They
are produced in round, semi-round, circle, drop, oval, button and
the Cook Islands and various other areas of French Polynesia produce
black South Sea pearls, which are all referred to as Tahitian pearls.
Born in the black-lipped saltwater oyster Pinctada margaritifera,
these naturally colored black beauties are produced in sizes from
8mm to 14mm, sometimes reaching 20mm, in various shapes. They range
in tones from gray and blue-gray to brown-black and greenish black.
The most expensive color is black with an iridescent peacock-green
are also causing quite a stir on today's market. China is the largest
cultivator of freshwater pearls in 3mm - 10mm sizes and baroque
to round shapes. Born of the freshwater mussel Uniondae hyriopsis
schlegeli, these gems come in a spice rack of natural colors
including plum, lavender, peach, apricot, curry, red pepper, cinnamon,
celery and sage. They are durable, have a thick nacre and nice
luster and come in colors not naturally found in any other
pearl type, for very affordable prices.
pearls are relatively soft compared to other gemstones and precious
metals. So it is important to take special care of your pearls
to ensure they will remain bright and beautiful for generations
perfume and hair spray all contain chemicals that can dull the
luster of a pearl over extended periods of time. Even acids contained
in body oils and perspiration can work to damage luster in the
Therefore, it is best to put
your pearls on after applying makeup, perfume and hair spray. Wiping the pearls
with a soft
after you wear them will ensure that they remain free from any harmful buildups
of these compounds. Periodically, the pearls should be washed with a mild
Try to keep your pearls separated from
hard jewelry items, such as metals and other gemstones, to prevent them from
pearls. Pearls are best kept in a soft cloth pouch or a separately lined