It was said in some early cultures that the pearl was born when a single drop of rain fell from the heavens and became the heart of the oyster. Pearls have also been called the "teardrops of the moon". While some believe that pearls were formed by the passage of angels through the clouds of heaven.
The name "Pearl" is said to have originated from the Middle English word "Perle".
Types of pearls
In order to make the best decision when buying pearls, it is important to know the difference between the types of pearls and why some are more expensive than others. There are basically four different types available;
- Freshwater pearls
- South Sea pearls
- Tahitian pearls
- Akoya pearls
A natural pearl is formed when a parasite or other foreign matter enters the body of the pearl producing mollusc. As a protective mechanism the mollusc deposits layers of nacre (pronounced nay-kur) over the irritant. Over time the mollusc will continue to deposit layers of nacre and this is how the pearl is formed. Natural pearls are more rare than cultured pearls.
When cultivating pearls shell beads acting as an irritant are placed inside a mollusc and the mollusc is returned to the water. When the pearls are later harvested, in order to stop the irritant, the mollusc covers the bead with layers of nacre. The quality of the nacre dictates the quality of the lustre, or shine of the pearl, which is very important to its beauty and its value.
Where are they produced?
Most cultured pearls are produced in Japan. In the warmer waters of the South Pacific, larger oysters produce South Sea cultured pearls and Tahitian black cultured pearls, which are larger in size. Freshwater pearls are cultured in mussels, mostly in China.
Pearls are relatively soft, with a hardness of 2.5 to 4.5 on the Mohs scale. Created in 1812 by the German geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Mohs, the Mohs scale of mineral hardness is based on the ability of one natural sample of mineral to scratch another mineral visibly. Ranging from talc which measures 1 on the Mohs scale, up to diamond, the hardest, which measures 10. Although pearls are soft, they are extremely compact, which makes them durable and resistant to being crushed.
For more information
Please contact us if you need any more information on pearls. We will be happy to answer any of your questions.