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Q. What do I need to know about pearls?
A. June's birthstone, pearl's are a natural gemstone formed when a oyster is irritated by a substance that gets into its shell. If the irritation is a naturally occurring grain of sand, it is an Oriental pearl. If it is produced by purposefully inserting a mother-of-pearl bead, a cultured pearl is formed. A pearl that forms attached to the shell is a blister pearl, while a pearl that forms a half dome is a mabe (pronounced mah-bay) pearl. Pearls that are irregularly shaped rather than round are referred to as baroque. Please see the following list of terms for more information about pearls.
the iridescent shell interior found in several types of marine species, often referred to as Mother of Pearl.
the Japanese name of the Pinctada fucata martensi mollusk. Japan and China both produce saltwater cultured Akoya pearls. They are typically round or semi-round and average 6 to 8 millimeters. Akoya pearls are widely available and consumers hold them in high regard.
asymmetrical, irregularly shaped pearls that are larger than keshi, rice or seed pearls. The name refers to the 17th and 18th style of European art characterized by ornate detail. Their free-form, organic look is best showcased en masse in long or multi-strand necklaces.
Lake Biwa is the largest body of fresh water in Japan and the traditional source of cultured freshwater pearls. Recently, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission ruled that the term "Biwa pearl" may be used to describe any freshwater pearl that comes from any freshwater mussel in Japan.
any pearl (fresh or saltwater) grown by a mollusk containing a surgically implanted hard bead nucleus or soft tissue nucleus. In other words, these are not artificial or manmade – they are real pearls made with a little human intervention. The length of time a pearl is allowed to grow and/or the size of the nucleus will determine the size of the pearl that will be harvested. Cultured pearls are cultivated on farms in fresh water or saltwater.
a pearl formed by a mussel living in a lake or a river.
a small, smooth, round growth formed within the shell of a mollusk.
strand of pearls with 3 mm or more gradation from the ends to the middle, with the largest pearl as the center. Pearls may also graduate within a journey-style pendant setting.
are used for peg-set studs or rings.
play of color over the surface of a pearl as interference divides white light into its component colors.
the combination of surface shine (reflectivity) and inner light refraction (depth). Luster is perhaps the most important of all quality factors and is expressed in terms of high, medium and low luster. The luster of a high quality pearl should be bright and capable of sharply reflecting objects near its surface.
are assembled blister pearls which grow on the inside of the mollusk shell rather than in the mantle of the organism. Once cut away from the shell, they are affixed with a mother of pearl backing. These half-domed pearls are frequently bezel-set for earrings.
an industry standard length of a pearl necklace between 22 to 24 inches in length.
iridescent layer (principally calcium carbonate and conchiolin) lining the inner shell of some mollusk species and used for jewelry, watch faces and flatware. When it coats a bead to form a cultured pearl or composes a natural, tissue-cultured or keshi pearl, it’s called nacre.
a calcium carbonate-based crystalline substance secreted by mollusks to form mother-of-pearl, pearls, and cultured pearls. Nacre secretion by a mollusk is usually a defense mechanism triggered by the intrusion of a foreign object into the body of an oyster.
a natural pearl (also called a genuine pearl) is a pearl produced in an oyster, mussel or other mollusk as a reaction to a tiny invading object becoming embedded in the organism. Over a period of years, layers of nacre, a crystalline substance, are secreted to coat the foreign particle.
the process of nucleating a mollusk to produce a pearl. Also called grafting or implantation, nucleation requires the insertion of either a hard bead nucleus or soft mantle tissue between the body of a mollusk and its shell or into the mantle tissue of a mollusk. The hard bead nucleus or soft mantle tissue serves as a "seed" or "irritant" to produce a cultured pearl.
good pearls should be hand strung and knotted, but they will stretch overtime. Keep them safe and looking great with professional restringing done by Jewelry Works.
extraordinarily durable imitation pearls meticulously assembled of polished oyster shell. Their high quality is worthy of hand knotting and finishing with rhodium plated sterling silver findings. Inquire about Quality Gold’s Majestik collection and versatile brand display.
Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines are leading sources of these saltwater cultured pearls. They are typically 8 to 20 mm, high quality and have white or pale body color.
cultured pearls produced by the black-lip oyster (Pinctada Margaritifera) found in the atolls and lagoons of French Polynesia. Tahitian cultured pearls are natural in color and are produced in hues of silver, gray, green, orange, gold, blue, purple and black. They average 9.5 mm and are held in high regard by consumers.
(frequently misspelled as toursade) a multi-strand pearl necklace twisted into a single or multi-colored rope.