Pearls were once a symbol of aristocracy and was considered one of world’s costliest gems. Pearl divers had to work hard as they brought up and opened thousands of oysters to make a single strand of necklace.
According to Wikipedia a pearl is a hard object produced within the soft tissue of a living shelled mollusk.. Just like the shell of a clam, a pearl is composed of calcium carbonate in minute crystalline form, which has been deposited in concentric layers. The ideal pearl is perfectly round and smooth, but many other shapes (baroque pearls) occur. The finest quality natural pearls have been highly valued as gemstones and objects of beauty for many centuries. Because of this, pearl has become a metaphor for something rare, fine, admirable and valuable.
There are two types of pearls.
1) Natural Pearl and 2) Cultured Pearl. Natural Pearls are formed by nature, more or less by chance.
On the other hand, cultured pearl is a pearl created by a pearl farmer under controlled conditions by inserting a tissue graft from a donor oyster, upon which a pearl sac forms, and the inner side precipitates calcium carbonate, in the form of nacre or “mother-of-pearl”.
Cultured pearls can be farmed using two very different groups of bivalve mollusk: the freshwater river mussels, and the saltwater pearl oysters.
Once harvested, the pearls are cleaned , and some are treated and bleached before being made into jewelry. Both natural and cultured pearls can be saltwater or freshwater pearls. Freshwater pearls are created or occur in mussels,while saltwater pearls are created or occur in oysters.
Contrary to popular belief, cultured pearls are indeed real pearls. Perliculture , is the practice of seeding and growing pearl.
This perliculture process was first developed by the British biologist William Saville-Kent who passed the information along to Tatsuhei Mise and Tokichi Nishikawa … Nishikawa was later granted the patent in 1916.
The development of cultured pearl has taken away the exclusivity of pearl as the market now is flooded with cultured pearls.
Today, more than 99% of all pearls sold worldwide are cultured pearls.
Their outer coatings are the same material as the natural pearl, and they take years to form inside the mantle of a mollusk. Some cultured pearls still command a lot of respect in the jewellery world for the high quality and finesse.
Colored Pearls, which occur due to local chemicals inside the shell, very similar in the way of rubies or sapphires, can be made by inserting natural dyes into the mussel shell, e.g., cobalt chloride to ensure a pinkish colour.
The main types of pearl jewellery includes Freshwater, Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea pearls
in some breathtaking designs.
Pearl has indeed come a long way…. It is still the favorite of many people across the world.