Pearls: A timeless natural beauty…
The soft shine and classic elegance of pearls will always be in style. For thousands of years, pearls have fascinated the human race. From the ancient peoples of North America to the Greeks and Romans and on into the present day, they have been valued as ornaments. Pearls have meant many things to many different cultures, but their most common association is with absolute perfection. It is easy to see why; their naturally rounded shape and lustrous inner glow create an effect of unrivaled beauty. This versatile gem compliments both the fresh innocence of childhood and the sophisticated grace of maturity.
The birthstone for June, pearls are associated with the mystical powers of the moon. They are thought to strengthen love and give wisdom. Ancient folklore identifies pearls as the tears of the gods. As a relatively soft gemstone (2.5 to 4.5 on the Mohs' scale), pearls should be protected from heavy wear.
Give her a gift that is as unique as she is…
Each pearl is unique because it is created in the body of a unique living creature. A pearl is formed when a mollusk, in response to a foreign object within its shell, coats the irritant with layers of nacre, or mother-of-pearl. Translucent mineral layers slowly build up to form the luminous surface of a pearl. These microscopic layers cause pearls to literally glow from within because light is reflected not only from the outer surface of the pearl, but also from its inner layers. The composition and therefore the characteristics of a pearl are determined by the metabolism of the mollusk itself.
Naturally occurring pearls are very rare, so in more recent times humans have taken a hand in pearl production. Cultured pearls are created when a small round core is placed within a mollusk to stimulate pearl production. Most of the pearls you see in jewelry today are cultured pearls.
Different Types of Pearls
The value of pearls is determined by five factors: color, luster, shape, surface markings and size. The ideal pearl is perfectly round with an intense inner shine and smooth surface. Depending on the type of mollusk that creates them, pearls come in a wide spectrum of colors, shapes and sizes.
The Akoya pearl oyster, native to Japan, produces a white pearl with lovely rosé overtones. Generally from 6-8 millimeters in diameter, Akoya pearls have almost flawless surfaces with a beautiful luster. These pearls create a classic, elegant look.
The very name of South Sea pearls calls up a feeling of exotic romance. The silver lipped pearl oyster, native to the South Pacific, produces large, luminous pearls with a distinctly silver sheen. Growing up to 13 millimeters in diameter, these spectacular pearls add a glamorous touch to gemstone jewelry.
Tahitian pearls come from the large black lipped oyster native to the Red Sea region. The lustrous black color of these pearls makes them a striking addition to jewelry. Tahitian pearls can reach up to 13 millimeters in size and range from a deep charcoal-black to a paler grey with green, blue or rosé overtones. Because the black lipped oyster does not tolerate pearl culture well, these stunning pearls are rare and costly.
Most pearls are produced by marine oysters, but mussels that live in freshwater lakes and rivers produce their own beautiful variety of pearl. Freshwater pearls are prized for their wide variety of colors. They range from classic white to pink, lavender, orange and other pastel colors. These colors depend on the mussel’s habitat and diet, but can also be produced artificially by irradiation after harvesting. Freshwater pearls are generally smaller, at 3-7 millimeters, and less expensive than saltwater pearls.