PEARLS are an organic gem, created when an oyster covers a foreign object with beautiful layers of nacre.
In some cases, they are formed in shellfish as a reaction to an irritant such as a piece of sand. The colours of pearls vary. They come in white, brown, silver, cream, black or pink depending on the type of
shellfish and water. Genuine and fine pearls quality is judged by the orient, which is the soft iridescence caused by the refraction of light, layers of nacre, and lustre, the reflectivity and shine of the surface. A genuine and fine pearl do not possess any flaws or spots in the nacre and has an even smooth texture.
It is said that in the days gone by, the value of pearls was much more than what it is today since several thousands of oysters had to be searched just for only one pearl. It is not very often that they are found since they are rare and created only by chance. It is precisely for this reason; they are referred to as natural pearls. Today pearls are cultured by man: shell beads are placed inside an oyster and the oyster is returned to the water. When the pearls are later harvested, the oyster has covered the bead with layers of nacre.
The price and value of pearls vary widely depending upon its shape, colour, lustre and size. Natural pearls are the most expensive, followed by cultured pearls. Fresh water pearls are relatively inexpensive, though they are valued for their natural beauty and individual distinctiveness.
They are formed around an irritant, such as a grain of sand that has found its way accidentally into an oyster or mussel without any human assistance. As a defence mechanism, the animal produces secretions to coat the irritant. Many layers of coating are deposited on the irritant making the irritant smooth. Said to be rare, it has all along been greatly valued and treasured.
A cultured pearl is formed in the same process as a natural pearl. The only difference is that a human being inserts a shell bead nucleus inside the oyster or mussel and irritates the oyster to produce layers of nacre. Healthy oysters are selected in which a round fragment is implanted from another oyster known as the nucleus. The oyster is then placed back in the waters where it begins the process of forming the pearls or cultivation, which normally takes 3 to 4 years.
Not easily distinguishable from genuine and natural pearls except by an expert, cultured pearls are generally white, brown, silver, cream, black or pink depending on the type of shellfish and water. Most cultured pearls are produced in Japan.
They are found in oysters in parts of the oceans and other bodies of saltwater around the world. It is larger than freshwater pearls, it is found in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Burma in South East Asia, Australia and Tahiti in the South Pacific (some of the largest pearls are found here), Arabian Sea in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and near Sri Lanka.
They are found growing in mussels living in lakes, ponds and streams all over the world. These pearls tend to be smaller and come in a much larger variety of shapes, colours and are less expensive than salt water pearls of the same size and colour. The largest producer of freshwater pearls today is China.
How To Take Care Of Pearls?
Pearls are less durable than most gems and as such they need to be handled with utmost care. There are a few things you need to know about pearls:
Remember, if taken good care of, PEARLS will last a lifetime and beyond as heirlooms for generations.
- They are relatively soft and can be damaged through scratching. Exposure to heat and chemicals cause dryness and discolouring of pearls.
- They are sensitive to acids, dryness, and humidity. When putting on your pearls do so after you have applied your hairspray and perfume since some of the chemicals in these products are harmful to your pearls.
- While taking off your pearls, wipe them with a dry, lint-free cloth, since a slight acid in your perspiration will affect the pearls over time.
- Clean your pearls with warm soapy water. Be careful to not get water into the drill hole as the pearl may lose its colour.
- Remove your pearls before showering, swimming or going to sleep.
- Dry your pearls flat on an absorbent soft (preferably lint-free) towel. Always store your pearl necklaces flat as the silk will stretch. Do not hang or wear them when wet since this may stretch the cord.
- Always ensure that you store pearls separately from other jewellery, since they tend to scratch. Also, store pearls in a dry environment in a cloth pouch or wrapped in a piece of cloth. Avoid using plastic bags since moisture may get trapped and damage the pearls.
- Never clean your pearls with ammonia based cleaners, detergents, bleaching agents, powdered cleaners, abrasive materials, scouring pads or stiff brushes.