CULTURED PEARLS: GIFTS OF NATURE
Yet cultured pearls are more than just jewels. Since the beginning of time, pearls have been reserved as one of the most beautiful and magical gems on earth.
Today, cultured pearls are the foundation of every woman’s jewelry wardrobe. Fashionable, feminine and fresh, cultured pearls enhance a woman’s palette of styles.
BIRTH OF A PEARL
A natural pearl begins his life as a foreign object, such as a parasite or piece of sand, that by accident lodges itself in the oyster’s soft inner body where it cannot be expelled.
As long as the irritant remains within its body, the oyster will continue to secrete nacre around the irritant, layer upon layer. After a few years, the irritant will be totally encased by the silky crystalline coatings. The result – the lovely and lustrous gem called a pearl.
ALL ABOUT CULTURED PEARL FARMING IN JAPAN
BRED FOR QUALITY
ENTER THE NUCLEUS
BACK TO SEA
THE BIRTH OF A PEARL
A RARE BEAUTY
Cultured pearls can never be mass-produced factory-like product. Too much depends upon the whims of unpredictable Mother Nature. Many of the oysters do not survive the surgical nucleating operation. Others are weak and susceptible to disease. Heavy rains can flood the bays with fresh water, reducing salinity and killing the oysters. Sometimes, certain species of plankton undergo explosive growth, creating the dreaded “red tide” that exhausts oxygen in a bay and suffocates the oysters. Then there are typhoons, attacks of predators and parasites or lack of sufficient nutrients in the water.
On the average, about fifty percent of the nucleated oysters do not survive to bear pearls. And only twenty percent bear marketable pearls. The rest are too imperfect, too flawed to be used as jewels.
A perfect pearl is a rare even, blessed by Nature and highly valued. Less than five percent of nucleated oysters yield pearls of such perfect shape, lustre and color as to be considered fine gem quality. They are precious treasures of pearl cultivation and the rare prizes of any jewelry collection.
Lucky indeed is any woman who can possess and wear them!
TYPES OF PEARLS AND THEIR BIRTH PLACES
Akoya pearls are the classic cultured pearls of Japan. They are the most lustrous of all pearls found anywhere in the world. In recent years, China has been successful in producing Akoya pearls within their own waters.
White South Sea (Grown in Australia, Myanmar and Indonesia)
White South Sea cultured pearls are grown in large tropical or semi-tropical oysters in Australia, Myanmar, Indonesia and other Pacific countries. They generally range in size from 10mm to 20 mm and command premium prices because of their relative rarity and large size.
South Sea Black (Grown in French Polynesia)
South Sea black cultured pearls are grown in a variety of large pearl oysters found primarily in French Polynesia. Their beautiful, unique color and large size can command very high prices.
Freshwater (Grown in Japan, China and The United States)
Freshwater pearls can be found in bays and rivers throughout the world. They are easily cultivated from freshwater mollusks in China, Japan and the Unites States. Many are less lustrous than salt water cultured pearls but their low price, unique shapes and colors have made them popular jewelry items in recent years.
Tahitian pearls come in a range of colors from white to black. They can contain various undertones and overtones of green, pink, blue, silver and yellow. The most valuable of these are of the darker variety, as the naturally dark tones of the Tahitian pearls is a unique quality among pearls. A true black Tahitian pearl is extremely rare, and largely considered one of the most beautiful kinds of pearls in the world.
Mabe (Grown in Japan, Indonesia, and Australia)
Mabe pearls are hemispherical cultured pearls grown against the inside shell of an oyster’s body. They generally are used in earrings or rings which conceal their flat backs.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN, NATURAL, CULTURED AND IMITIATION PEARLS
Imitation pearls, on the other hand, are man made by mechanical process and have no real jewel value.
Better imitation pearls are made from beads of glass, ceramic, shell, or plastic which are coated with a varnish generally made of lacquer and ground fish scales to simulate the iridescence and colour of a pearl.
Imitation pearls go by many names. Some, unfortunately, are used to mislead consumers. The words “fashion, faux, simulated, organic, man-made, Mallorca,” or similar regional names are all terms that are currently applied to manufactured, imitation pearls.
Most pearl experts can readily tell the difference between imitation and real pearls by sight alone. However, due to sophisticated manufacturing and polishing techniques, it may be difficult for the average consumer to distinguish a natural or cultured pearl from a good imitation by sight. An easy way to tell the difference is the “tooth” test.
A strand of imitation pearls slowly rubbed across the front teeth will feel smooth. A strand of natural or cultured pearls will feel a little gritty. This “grittiness” that is felt is from the crystalline structure of nacre that forms real and cultured pearls.
Copy Courtesy: Japan Pearl Exporters’ Association