Classic, sophisticated, and timeless, everything about pearls is extraordinary. Available in different tones and selective hues, these gorgeous delights have made their presence in every jewellery box. Their divine lustre makes them incredibly sought-after, along with their smooth shape and comfortable wear. A choice of countless, these gems have a class of their own. Find out here all there is know about one of the most popular gemstones to be ever flaunted:
Origin and Supply of Pearls
The hugely coveted gems come with a lot of history that is full of love and popularity. Pearls have a lot of tales and beliefs associated with them. A lot of legends in Arab maintain that pearls are actually tears of God that nestled into oysters. Ancient Greek, too, believed that their Goddess Aphrodite shed tears that were pearls. In the Bible, it says that the gates of Heaven have been carved in pearls. In Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna presented his wife with pearls upon their marriage. All in all, tales and legends across the globe have been spectators of the beauty of pearls.
How are Natural Pearls Formed?
These gems are the gifts from the seas and the only gems that come from a living being. The natural creation of a pearl can take up to several years, even hundreds! The natural process begins when a foreign substance enters the shell. As the oyster’s defence mechanism, it begins coating the foreign object with different layers of nacre. Over years, the layers grow and the nucleus (external irritant) begins rotating. This is how the pearl is formed and gets its shape.
The gorgeous gems are widely popular for their classic off-white hues. However, that’s not the only colour that they’re available in. Naturally cultured pearls are also available in different shades, like golden, pink, black, and more. Renowned for their brilliant lustre, these treasures need a definite space in your jewellery box.
How Are Pearls Cultured?
Natural formation of pearls takes up several long years. Due to over-farming of the natural pearls, most of them are now gone. To replace them, in order to meet the rising demand, artificial cultivation of pearls begun. This is when an external irritant is artificially injected into the mollusc instead of the natural way. The artificially injected nucleus then collects layers over layers, and that is how these are artificially cultivated.
Types of Pearls
In the current market, you’ll note a variety of different types of pearls. All these have their unique determining qualities and aesthetic properties that set them apart from one another. We’ve mentioned some of them below:
Known popularly as the best Saltwater pearls, Akoya Pearls are usually found in a charming ivory colour, which is often treated to look black or deep, inky blue. The technology of cultivating these pearls was developed by a Japanese man, going by the name Kokichi Mikimoto. He experimented for a over a decade to perfect the process of cultivating these black pearls and finally succeeded in the 1900’s. The properties that set this kind of pearls apart are their brilliant mirror-like lustre (which is almost metallic) along with their symmetrically round shape. In the current pearl market, the smaller Akoya Pearls are cultivated in China whereas the bigger varieties are cultivated in Japan.
By far, the most abundantly found and popular category presents the freshwater pearls. These gems are found in mussels, where each produces about 50 of these lustrous beauties. If naturally sourced, these bear a potato-like shape. However, with the evolution of cultivation, you can now see the perfect symmetrical varieties, too. The features that set these pearls apart are their naturally-irregular shape along with their availability in a spectrum of colours, like pink, peach, purple, and more.
Popular for their ebony hue and oily texture, these pearls are extremely coveted. It was believed by ancient Polynesians that God of Love and Fertility – Oro - gifted them these black pearls. It was also believed that he came down on a rainbow, which gave these pearls their iridescent lustre. Tahitian Pearls are usually cultured in black-lipped oysters and are cultivated in French Polynesia. Their best feature is their black colour, which features a sheen of purple or green overtones.
South Sea Pearls
Considered to be a part of the “exotic pearls,” the South Sea Pearls come in two shades – white and golden. While the white variety of these pearls is cultivated in western coast of Australian, Golden South Sea Pearls are found in Philippines and Indonesia. These pearls are scarcely found, which makes them all the more popular and precious. They’re also extremely famous for their size, which tips on the bigger varieties. The average size of a South Sea Pearl may vary between 9-22 mm, available in white, cream, and golden colours.
These kinds of pearls have only recently been seen in the markets. They are the successful results of a long series of experiments. Edison pearls have been targeted to achieve the best mix of Australia’s South Sea Pearls and Freshwater Pearls. The average size of these pearls lies astonishingly between 11-16 mm! In their cultivation process, only a single nucleus is injected into the mollusc at a time, which is then coated by several different layers of nacre over time. This results into the brilliant shape and incredibly large size.
Properties of Pearl
Unlike all the other crystals and gems, pearls do not have 4C’s that determine their value. However, that said, they can be distinguished with several other characteristics. Some of the more important ones have been mentioned below:
The most popular variety of pearls flaunts a simple ivory colour. It is classic and is also flaunted the most. However, there are several other colours of the gem, too. Some of them are golden (South Sea Pearls,) black (Akoya and Tahitian Pears,) pink, lavender, peach (Freshwater Pearls,) among some others, too. If you’re seeking naturally cultured pearls, you may find it difficult to spot the exact same colours. There might be variations in different shades of pink, peach, and ivory.
The size of your pearl entirely depends of what kind it. Every above-mentioned grade of pearls delivers a different size than the other. The biggest pearls are usually South Sea Pearls, which vary from 9-22mm. Freshwater pearls, Tahitian or Akoy pearls offer relatively smaller varieties. That said, the average size a pearl is 7-7.5mm, which is also the more commonly found size.
You may only know pearls to have a round or oval shape. That’s not true; pearls are available in a whole variety of different shapes and different sizes. Some of the more noticeable ones are:(i). Round Pearl:
Found abundantly, this is not only the most popular shape, but it is also a reigning classic, too. Most of the cultured pearls are given a symmetrically round and smooth shape. These pearls are then strewn to form a perfect necklace. Ages ago, when cultivating pearls wasn’t a thing, obtaining a necklace with natural pearls would take over several years.(ii). Baroque Pearl:
Another vastly popular shape is the baroque. This shape resembles a potato. It is irregular but looks far more natural, which makes it incredibly popular among the masses. Baroque pearls aren’t only asymmetrical. It’s actually a name given to all the irregular pearls, from having slight dent to a whole new shape.(iii). Oval Shaped Pearl:
Another popular shape, oval pearls are mostly used for necklaces and bracelets. These oblong pearls have a brilliantly lustrous surface, which keeps them eternally popular. They closely resemble an egg and can also be used for earrings.(iv). Teardrop Pearl:
A shape that is extremely popular for earrings, teardrop pearls are extremely popular and loved. These gorgeous treats have a stunning smooth shape that resembles a milky white drop.(v). Mabe and Button Pearl:
Mabe is shape that features round silhouette on the top, with tapered edges. These pearls are mostly used for pins and brooches. Another shape is button, which is flat on the top but round on the sides, making them perfect for necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.
By far, the most important characteristic of a pearl is its lustre. Noted from distances, this sets the different grades of pearls apart. If your pearl is expensive, it is going to have several different layers. And with more layers, the lustre increases. The price and value of pearls increase with the layers they have. If you’re out shopping for an expensive pearl, place it in front of the light. It should reflect your face in it; it would mean that it has a lot of layers.
Surface of a pearl does affect its look, not its value. The different surfaces you may come across are little dents or rings that can be felt. These imperfections are usually minor and only seem to make your gem more unique and natural.
Most of the pearls found in the current market have undergone some kind of treatment to enhance their beauty. More popular treatments are bleaching, irradiation, drilling, waxing, heating, filling, or cutting. The best way to find out if your pearl is treated is by comparing the different pieces in the strand. Natural pearls will always be slightly different from one another, be it in terms of shape, colour, size, or surface.
Pearls as June’s Birthstone
Full of unique allure and traditional excellence, pearls have been regarded as precious, must-have gems since almost forever. The June’s birthstone was termed back in 1912. Seeing as to how lustrous and brilliant they seemed, they were called “Tears of God” in ancient legends and myths. Over years, they only gained more popularity and now you can spot a stunning pearl in every jewellery box.
However, what’s the meaning of birthstone pearl? Well, it’s simple. It is believed that people who are born in the month of June may find oodles of luck, happiness, and prosperity if they wear this gem. Pearl is considered to be unique in every way, especially knowing that it’s the only gem that’s procured from a living organism. The best gift from the seas, pearls bring joy in all forms, from their aesthetics to their meaning!
The month of June has other alternative birthstones, too, like Alexandrite.
Healing Properties of Pearls
Seeing as to how pearls are formed, they’re often associated with nurturing and growth. They’re also seen as symbols of fertility. In fact, in Asian countries, pearls are used in lots of treatments for healing. Not just aesthetically pleasing, pearls also offer holistic healing in a deeper level, professional healers claim. Across the globe, it has been considered as one of the strongest healing stones and can be used just like other crystals, too. Below are some of the major benefits of wearing it and reaping metaphysical benefits of pearls:
Decorating A Pearl
The big lustrous magnificence looks beautiful if it is decorated in any room. Pearls are regarded as nurturing and nourishing, both of which features make it a perfect fit to be placed in your child’s room. Keeping a pearl in the room will help your body attain balance in hormone levels and body’s natural rhythm. It also keeps our body cycles in tune with the Lunar Cycles. By keeping a pearl in the room may help you get rid of negative energy and bathe you in positivity. You may also use the gem as a part of your meditation process.
Wearing A Pearl
In Asian countries, it is believed that just by wearing a pearl, you can get rid of many disorders and ailments. They are said to ground you and bring peace and calm for the wearer. For women, it is also considered to symbolize femininity and fertility. It is, in fact, believed that it gets women in touch with their inner goddess.
Other external uses of pearls have been noted by Asians in order to treat skin issues and patches. They believe that use of pearl causes prevention from melanin formation, which is a pigment that cause tan and dark spots. You’ll also note the use of pearl powder in the composition of many age-fighting creams, as it is supposed to take care of wrinkles and fine lines.
Pearls, mentally, are considered to inspire people. They’re considered as the stones bringing enlightenment. The gem not only calms you, but it also offers you to get in touch with your true self. It brings a fresh wave of positivity in your life and is believed to keep you happy.
What to Remember While Buying Pearls?
There are lots of tips and tricks that you need to keep in mind when you’re out shopping for your perfect pearl piece. Here, we have mentioned some extremely helpful tips that you need to remember when you’re buying these classy gems:
- Do not forget the major characteristics of pearls, which are colour, size, shape, lustre, and surface. You’ll get the best value for your money and safety from being ripped off if you’ve educated yourself beforehand.
- It is important to remember that pearls are not only available in white colours, but several different shades and tones, like lavender, pink, peach, even black and purple. These are all natural or dyed to look better.
- You must also remember that every pearl is slightly different than the other. If you’ve found a pearl necklace that has identical pieces, it’s probably fake. Every pearl has ridges and shape that are unique to it.
- Know the costs of pearls. If you’re shopping for naturally cultivated pearls, know which ones are the highest priced (South Sea pearls,) which are medium-priced (Tahitian and Akoya Pearls,) and which ones are pocket-friendly (Freshwater Pearls.)
- Every expensive pearl will have a higher number of layers in it. An increased number of layers indicates richer lustre, which also makes the pearl more expensive and luxurious. It’ll make it appear mirror-like.
- If you wish to conduct a test that determined whether your pearl is real or fake, rub it against your tooth. A real pearl will have irregular and uneven surface, while the imitations will have a glass-like smooth surface.
- If you’re buying pearls for the first time, let it be a simple strand for necklace. Every woman must have at least on classic and simple freshwater pearls necklace strand.
- It’s important to seek a vendor that specializes in pearls. It will offer you a vast and wide range, along with guarantee of authenticity.
- Know about the sizes of pearls. It is important to know which type of cultivated stone has what average size. The largest pearls can be found as South Sea Pearls. Others like Akoya and Tahitian are relatively smaller pearls.
Did you Know?
There are some pieces of information that you have not heard about pearls. Find some interesting nuggets of rare information mentioned below:
1. Pearls come in different shapes
It’s true! As opposed to the more-often seen shapes like round and oval, pearls come in several different shapes and forms. We’d like to let you in about the rare and more treasured shapes as mentioned below:Baroque Pearl
A baroque shape is considered when your pearl is of an asymmetrical figure. In these instances, you’ll find uneven surfaces and unique new shapes. It is important to be noted that no baroque pearl of a kind resembles the other, they all have a truly unique and one-of-a-kind structure.Keshi Pearl
Usually known as the by-product of pearl cultivation, these can also be called “unnucleated pearls.” They’re entirely composed of pure nacre, due to the absence of a nucleus. This is the reason why they have their different-than-usual structure.Mabe Pearl
Flat from the bottom and spherical at the top, mabe pearls have a stunning structure that almost seems artificially structured. These pearls are grown against the shell of the oyster and can be seen in designs of pendants, earrings, and earrings.
2. Pearl Formation
We’ve always been curious as to how a pearl is formed. We’re also always thought that it is a tricky process, full of technical details. However, it is not so. A pearl is simply a small irritant that enters to mollusc and then acts as nucleus. Nucleus, here, is referred to as the centre point, around which the oyster then builds different layers of nacre (the lustrous and shining layer that’s determinant of a good pearl.) This whole process is the defence mechanism of the oyster.
Over years, this nucleus rotates, and different layers keep forming over the existent ones. When we’re talking about artificially cultured pearls, the irritant is injected into the mollusc.
Taking Care of Pearls
There are some important things you need to remember when you’re taking care of pearls. Some of the more important ones have been listed below:
- It is suggested that you wear your pearls as much as possible. Pearls don’t lose their colour of lustre if worn for long time. However, if you store them, the lack of air and gathered moisture might even cause damage to them.
- Keep pearls away from metals or diamonds. As we have mentioned, pearls are considerably fragile stones. They can be easily scratched and harmed. It is strongly suggested that you keep them in velvet bags or silk, and keep them far away from strong, breakable surfaces like diamonds or metals.
- Wear pearls at last. The gems are natural and fragile. It is a good idea to apply your makeup, spray perfume, use all the products as required, and them wear the pearls. These gems should ideally be kept away from strong chemicals.
- After you’re done wearing the pearls, gently wipe them using a soft cloth. This helps in removing small traces of sweat or other forms of perspiration that might harm these natural gems.
- If you’re thinking of cleaning the pearls, then only use a soft cloth. No hard bristles of prickly surfaces should rub the surface of your pearls.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pearls
In this section, we have put together a detailed list of questions with their answers, which have been asked regarding pearls. We hope to give the answers you’ve been looking for. Read to know more:
1. Are Cultured Pearls Considered as Real Pearls?
To be brief, it is quite challenging to differentiate between natural pearls and cultured pearls. The process of cultured pearls is similar to the of natural pearls. The only difference is that in the initial stages, a delicate procedure is conducted, which plants the bead and layers form around that. In natural pearls, this process happens over years on its own.
2. How to Tell the Difference Between Real Pearl and Imitation?
You can carry a simple “tooth test” to determine if your pearl is real or fake. Lightly rub the surface of pearl on your tooth. If you feel minute ridges and imperfections, your pearl is real. However, if you feel it’s as smooth as glass, it’s more probably a fake.
3. Which Type of Pearl Is the Most Expensive?
Due to their big size and scarcity in availability, South Sea Pearls are the most priced and valued. They’re cultivated in the western coast on Australia (for the golden pearls variety) and Indonesia and French Polynesia (for the white pearls variety.) They’re also bigger in size and are available between 9-22mm.
4. What Does A Pearl Symbolize?
Wearing pearl jewellery may symbolize purity, nurturing, nourishing, and fertility. In many legends, it is believed that it gets you in touch with your “inner self.” Many also believe that brings you in tune with your “inner Goddess.”
5. What Is the Benefit of Wearing a Pearl?
Pearl’s metaphysical healing powers are several. It is worn for good luck as well as deals with anger issues. Pearl also harmonizes your body’s rhythm and hormones with the Lunar cycles. It is also believed that wearing a pearl calms you down and increases your mind’s force, making you more creative.
6. What Are the Factors of a Valuable Pearl?
As mentioned and explained above, there aren’t any 4C’s that determine the value of a pearl. Instead, it depends of its size, surface, shape, lustre, and colour. You may find several varieties that have different features than the other. Read above to know more.
7. What Makes Pearls So Special?
One of the biggest features that makes pearls as popular is the fact that they’re the only gems that have been obtained from real living beings. Other gemstones are usually mined and sourced from the Earth.
8. Are Coloured Pearls Real?
Yes, differently coloured pearls other than ivory or peach are real pearls, too. There are different varieties of black pearls (also called Tahitian Pearls) that offer blue, green, or grey pearl. Other colours of freshwater pearls are lavender, cream. South Sea Pearls offer golden-hued variety.
9. Is Pearl A Birthstone?
Yes, Pearl Birthstone is for the people who are born during the month of June. The lustrous treat is considered to bring luck and joy to the wearer. You may choose from the different colours, shapes, and sizes of pearls to find your favourite.
10. Is Mother of Pearl considered as a pearl?
Albeit Mother of Pearl and Pearl are made of the same nacre, they’re not considered to be the same. Mother of Pearl is thinner and much more delicate because the nacre is thinner with fewer layers.
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Facts About Pearls
There are lots of fun and known facts that make shopping for pearls all the more fun. Here are some of the more known ones:
- Pearls are 100% naturally sourced gemstones. Their lustre, shape, and colour are all the gifts of nature. In fact, their mirror-like smoothness and divine lustre made them have a godly status in the ancient times.
- There were times in the British rule where pearls could only be worn by nobility. They used to represent a particular class or status for the elite.
- It was believed by ancient Arabs and Greeks that pearls were actually the tears of God.
- Naturally cultivated freshwater pearls offer 90% of the circulating pearls in market, whereas saltwater pearls (like Tahitian Pearls and Akoya Black Pearls) have only 5% input.
- Completely naturally obtained pearl can be counted as among the rarest stones on Earth. It takes several hundreds of years to grow. Only 1 out of 10,00 oysters now contains a natural pearl.
- American National Association of Jewellers called the stone Birthstone Pearl and made it a lucky stone for the people born in the month of June.
- No two pearls are the same as each other. Every pearl that is naturally cultivated will be much different than the other, be it in terms of colour, lustre, shape, size, or surface.
- The low-grade pearls with fewer layers are crushed into fine powder and then used for makeup.
- Pearls beautifully symbolize fertility, nurturing, friendship, and femininity.
- Pearls are the only stones known to mankind that are obtained from other living beings. This makes them much different than any other rock, which are obtained from the Earth.