In honor of the month of June we are going to dedicate this month’s blogs to the mystical pearl, June’s birthstone. Similar to a diamond, a pearl has many different features which make every pearl unique. This month we will go over the history of the pearl, how pearls are created, common pearl terms, as well as pearl care and how to buy pearls, because pearls have been and always will be a classic gift.
Known as the world’s oldest gem, records of the pearl date back to ancient Egypt where they were considered the prized possessions of royalty, symbols of wealth and prestige. Worn by brides during their wedding, they were also said to bring love. Until pearl cultivation began not everyone could afford pearls, then in 1916 pearl cultivation began, which made the pearl available and affordable to all.
Today a pearl is known as a classic piece of jewelry, and a must have in every woman’s jewelry box. Famously worn by Audrey Hepburn, Coco Chanel, Princess Diana and countless others, the pearl is a symbol of elegance.
The only gem grown in a living organism the process of a pearl’s creation is an interesting one. The creation of a pearl is the result of a biological process, a way for the oyster to protect itself against foreign substances. The formation of a pearl begins when a foreign substance slips into the oyster and irritates it, resulting in the Oyster covering up the foreign object with layers and layers of nacre which over time creates a gorgeous pearl.
To really understand the particulars of a pearl we composed a list of helpful terms that will prove important when reading our upcoming blogs, as well as for those shopping for the perfect pearl.
AAA-A system a grading system of pearls which goes from AAA to A, AAA being the highest
Baroque an irregular shaped pearl
Bleaching a common whitening treatment applied to most cultured akoya and freshwater pearls
Button a flat shaped pearl resembling a button, often used in earrings
Circled Pearl a pearl which consists of one or more ridged or grooved rings around a pearl’s circumference
Coating a layer of artificial or natural substance applied to a pearl to enhance its luster, surface quality or to produce other optical effects
Cultured pearl as a result of human intervention, a cultured pearl is formed inside an oyster/mollusk
Drop a teardrop shaped pearl
Dyeing changing or improving a pearls color by adding chemicals
Gem quality a perfectly clean pearl exhibiting fine color and luster
Hardness pearls range from 3.5 to 4.5 on the mohs hardness scale
Heat treatment applying heat to a natural/cultured pearl to improve luster
Moh’s Scale of Hardness characterizes the scratch resistance of various minerals
Mother of pearl the coating inside a mollusk/oyster’s shell which is made of nacre
Mussel freshwater mollusk with 2 shells that produces pearls
Nacre a substance naturally produced by mollusks/oysters to make pearls and mother of pearl, the thicker the nacre stronger and longer the pearl will last
Nucleation a process where they make a mollusk form a cultured pearl by inserting an irritant
Natural pearl a pearl formed in the wild without interference by humans
Oval a pearl shaped like an oval
Oyster a 2 shelled saltwater mollusk, used to produce pearls
Peacock usually used to describe Tahitian cultured pearls it represents a dark green/blue grey color
Pearl a gem formed in the body of a mollusk/oyster
Pearl color a combination of body color and overtone
Pearl luster a measurement of quality and quantity of light that reflects from the surface of a pearl, the more nacre around the pearl the higher the luster is
Pearl matching evaluation of the complete appearance of a pearl strand, jewelry, includes size, color and quality
Pearl’s size measured according to diameter in mm. range from 1mm or less to 20mm. the average is 7mm. the large the size the greater the value
Spherical a perfectly round or nearly round which is the classic pearl shape
Tooth test a reliable way of detecting pearl imitations by gently rubbing a pearl across teeth