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Get to know your Pearls

Discussion in 'Jewelry & Accessories' started by daffodil, Nov 28, 2007.

  1. daffodil

    daffodil Bronze IL'ite

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    Different types of pearls
    [​IMG]There are many different types of pearls in the world, but are they all made the same way? The answer is no. Some are made by man, others are made by oysters, and some are made by oysters with the help of man.

    Imitation Pearls
    They sometimes look real, but they're not.
    Imitation pearls are made by man out of glass or plastic beads and then coated with synthetic substances such as nail polish to make them look more like real pearls.
    These pearls are often given names which sound like the names of real pearls, but they do not have any real value. People have developed many new and innovative ways to make these pearls, but they will never be able to capture the true beauty and deep-seated lustre of real pearls.

    Real Pearls
    [​IMG] Only living oysters and mussels can create real pearls
    If a pearl is formed by a living oyster or mussel, it is a Real pearl. All other pearls are Imitation. Real Pearls can be either Natural or Cultured.

    Natural pearls
    Made by oysters on their own
    Natural Pearls are formed when a foreign object, such as piece of coral or parasite, accidentally enters into an oyster. [​IMG] The irritated oyster tries to get rid of the foreign particle. When it can't, it starts covering the object with layer upon layer of a smooth substance called "Nacre". As layers and layers of nacre build up around the object they form a beautiful smooth pearl. One this process is started, it will continue as long as the oyster is alive. It will usually take many years for a reasonable size pearl to form.
    Because foreign objects do not enter oysters very often, Natural pearls are very rare and therefore are the most expensive.

    Cultured pearls
    Made with a little help from man
    Cultured Pearls are formed when man carefully opens the oyster shell and places an irritant (usually a piece of mantle tissue) inside to 'trick' the oyster into producing a pearl. Once the irritant is placed it is up to the oyster and nature to produce their miracle

    There are many types of cultured pearls. Here are some of the most popular.
    Freshwater Pearls
    These pearls are grown in Mussels that live in freshwater lakes and rivers. Smaller sizes of irritants are used in making freshwater pearls, which result in more pearls per mussel.
    It is much easier to create freshwater pearls than saltwater pearls. Freshwater mussels can produce upto 20 pearls at a time compared to saltwater oysters that can produce only a few pearls at a time. Saltwater oysters also reject irritants much more often and many do not survive the culturing process as well as freshwater mussels.
    Japanese Akoya Pearls
    Have you heard of these before? Japanese Akoya are one of the most familiar types of cultured pearls. They are grown in a Japanese pearl oyster called Pinctada Fucata Martensil. Here a bead and a piece of mantle tissue is placed inside the oyster. This helps to grow pearls that are more round. But because the bead is quite big, the pearl is made up of only about 10% nacre and 90% bead. Nevertheless, Akoya pearls are famous for their lovely lustre and warm colours. Their size is generally between 3 mm to 9 mm. Akoya pearls that are allowed to grow at least 3 years are of very good quality and thus very expensive.
    Comercial-grade Akoya cultured pearls take 10 to 18 months from the time they are nucleated to the point they're ready for harvest. Akoya cultured pearls are the most difficult and costly to grow because of the low survival rates of their host oysters. Less than 50 percent of Akoya oysters survive the nucleation process, and those that do go on to produce pearls can do so only once.
    Chinese Akoya Pearls
    [​IMG] In recent years China has also started producing Akoya pearls. Chinese Akoya pearls are grown in the same way as Japanese Akoya Pearls but their quality is generally not as good.
    White South Sea Pearls
    White South Sea Pearls are grown in large topical and semi topical oysters called Pinctada Maxima, in Australia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Philippines and other Pacific Ocean countries.Because of big size of the oyster, a larger bead nucleus along with mantle tissue can be used, which means the pearls are bigger.Generally South Sea pearls range in size from 8 mm to 20 mm.They are found in many colours including white with shades of silver, gold, pink and blue. Because they are so big, White South Sea Pearls are the most expensive among all cultured pearls.
    Black South Sea or Tahitian Pearls
    Black South Sea Pearls, also called Tahitian Pearls, are grown in the Black Lipped oyster, Pinctada Margaritifera.This oyster is mainly found in the South Pacific ocean near the Cook Islands, from Tahiti to the Tuamotu Archipelago and the Gambier islands in French Polynesia. These oysters are also big, so a large bead nucleus along with mantle tissue can be used. The result is large pearls, with natural colours ranging from Gray, Silver Blue, Pistachio Green to Black. Their size varies from 8 mm to 18 mm.
    Mabe Pearls
    Mabe pearls are known as half pearls. That's because they are grown against the inside shell of an oyster rather than within the oyster's body.Mabe is the Japanese name for the Winged Oyster, Pteria Penguin, in which these pearls are usually grown.Mabe pearls are also grown in silver lipped pearl oysters (Pinctada Maxima) after they have already produced round pearls. The size of Mabe pearls varies from 12 mm to 20 mm in diameter.Most are round in shape but drop, heart & ovals are also available.
    Keshi Pearls
    [​IMG]Keshi means "Poppy seed" in Japanese, and originally referred to the small size of these pearls. They are a by-product of pearl culturing and, because they are made of solid nacre with no nucleus, they appear identical to natural pearls. Usually they have a bright lustre with colours ranging from silver white to silver gray. With more and more large South Sea Pearls being cultivated, Keshi pearls are now available upto 8 mm.

    Buying a pearl?
    What you should look for[​IMG]
    Judging the quality and value of pearls can be confusing. After all, there are so many different types, colours, and shapes. Here's a quick guide to help you find the ideal pearl at the perfect price.
    Lustre
    The most important factor for quality
    Luster is the deep-seated glow and ability to reflect light.Luster depends on the quality of the pearl's nacre, its transparency, overall thickness and crystal alignment. The quality of the nacre depends on where it was cultivated, how healthy the oyster was, how much pollution it was subjected to and how long the pearl spent in the oyster. When buying a pearl, our advice to you is never to compromise on lustre.
    Colour
    A matter of taste
    Colour is not an indication of quality. No one colour is better than another. It's entirely up to you and your taste. However, some shades are more popular, and therefore more valued than others. Pearls can be found in a vast range of colours such as white, silvery white, cream, pink, gray, golden, peach, mauve, black and many others.
    Shape
    Round is more rare, and more valuable
    [​IMG]Shape of the pearl plays an important role in determining its value.Pearls are available in a variety of shapes like round, drop, semi-round, oval, long, baroque and semi-baroque.Round pearls are rare, most difficult to cultivate and very popular. That is why they are more expensive.If you need to cut down on price, shape is a good category to compromise on. A slightly off-round or oval shaped pearl will be priced lower than perfectly round pearls. From a distance the difference may not even be noticeable. Some of the baroque shapes can also make very interesting jewellery pieces.
    Surface Texture
    Check for large flaws or blemishes
    Surface refers to the skin texture of the pearl.The fewer the spots or blemishes a pearl has, the higher its value. However, because pearls are created by living creatures, nature almost always leaves its mark. Only one oyster in a thousand may produce a perfectly flawless pearl. However, if you are buying a cultured pearl, make sure it is free of large flaws and blemishes.
    Size
    A big affect on price
    [​IMG]Size is a major factor in determining the price of a pearl.Generally the larger the pearl, the more rare it is and consequently the more valuable.A pearl's size is expressed in terms of its diameter which is measured in millimeters. A small difference in size may raise the price significantly. Pearls can be smaller than 1 millimeter and as large as 20 mm and more.
    Matching
    Pearls that look similar should be together
    When choosing a piece of jewellery with many pearls, remember that the overall look of the jewellery is also very important. No two pearls are exactly same. But if they are all of a similar shape and size, the value of the creation will be greater. One reason for this is the time and effort it takes to find pearls of similar size, shape, colour and quality.

    How to care for your pearls
    [​IMG][​IMG] Always apply cosmetics and perfumes before wearing your pearls.
    [​IMG] After wearing, clean pearls with a soft, damp cloth.
    [​IMG] For safety's sake, it is advisable to have your pearls re-strung approximately once a year, depending on frequency of wear.
    [​IMG] Pearls should be stored in a dry place. Do not store your pearls with other jewellery or hard objects which might scratch the surface.

    Cheers,
    Daffodil
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  2. Inimai

    Inimai Senior IL'ite

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    Hi Daffodil,

    Very useful information! Could you tell the average price for 8mm pearl string? or in general?

    thanks!
     
  3. Sushmavarala

    Sushmavarala Senior IL'ite

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    Very Informative and useful article.
     
  4. essvee

    essvee New IL'ite

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    Hi Daffodil,
    That was really informative.Must confess, I didn't know all these details. Thanks for posting this.
    Looking forward to similar info articles on jewellery.

    Cheers,
    sonalika
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2008
  5. AVpoornima

    AVpoornima Gold IL'ite

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    hi
    thanks for sharing
     
  6. skumapathy

    skumapathy Senior IL'ite

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    Very informative, thanks for sharing

    Sasi:coffee
     
  7. pavithrasriram

    pavithrasriram Bronze IL'ite

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    dear daffodil,
    very useful information on pearls.
    regards
    pavi
     
  8. kk_karthi2000

    kk_karthi2000 Bronze IL'ite

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    useful info thank u for posting this
     
  9. parimallah

    parimallah New IL'ite

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    Thanks for sharing this information..its really useful..
     
  10. banuma

    banuma Senior IL'ite

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    Very informative, thanks for sharing
     

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