What is a pearl?
A pearl is a hard object produced within the soft tissue (specifically the mantle) of a living shelled mollusc. Just like the shell of a clam, a pearl is made up of calcium carbonate in minute crystalline form, which has been deposited in concentric layers. The ideal pearl is perfectly round and smooth, but many other shapes of pearls (baroque pearls) occur. The finest quality natural pearls have been highly valued as gemstones and objects of beauty for many centuries, and because of this, the word pearl has become a metaphor for something very rare, fine, admirable, and valuable.
Here at Rainbow Minerals we carry a vast variety of pearls. Swarovski, Fresh Water, Akoya and Tahitian. With such variety and difference between each pearl, it is only natural for our customers to have questions. Today I’ve decided to answer these questions for you. Being able to work side by side with a certified gemologist and pearl specialist, I have learned quite a few new things regarding gemstones and pearls. Let me share the knowledge I’ve had the pleasure to learn.
What’s the big deal over “natural”?
Now-a-days being able to find a natural pearl is extremely rare. Pearls were once found in the Persian Gulf. Today, most, if not all pearls are cultured./farmed. Although you still may be able to find natural pearls- they come at a very high price. Natural pearls have no human interaction, what you see is what you get.
Cultured pearls are farmed in supervised environments and conditions. With cultured pearls, farmers have the ability to ensure the pearl is perfectly shaped and luminous.
There are distinct differences between natural and cultured pearls, as well as differences between freshwater and saltwater pearls. Understanding the differences will help guide you in making a conscious decision when purchasing pearls.
A high end imitation pearl has been created by SWAROVSKI. By using a crystal core, Swarovski begins to imitate the pearl coating process that a mollusk could take up to 3-9 years to create . Each “perfect” circle is coated with many layers of Swarovski iridescent coating (protected with a patent). The crystal core is a key factor, separating Swarovksi quality from others imitations out there. These pearls display more of a luminous glow than other imitation pearls. A Swarovski Crystal Pearl feels good to the touch and offers that sensual experience valued by pearl enthusiasts. They come in a variety of colours and sizes, with a no chip, no peel guarantee!
Akoya Pearls vs FreshWater
An Akoya oyster is the smallest pearl-producing oyster in the world. They are found in the salt waters waters of Japan in depths of 1-5 metres. Due to calm waters and mild temperatures, it’s a perfect environment and climate to produce rich and brilliantly lustered pearls. Akoya pearls are often available in sizes of 3 – 10mm. These pearls have a amazing ability and to produce an almost perfectly round cultured pearls. Their colours range from white, cream, pink to silver pink.
Freshwater pearls come from freshwater mussels and are primarily farmed in China. Again, freshwater pearls also come in various shades. of pink and white . Depending on the mussel, colours will vary. Colours and dyes do not affect the nacre of the pearl, it will still chip and peel regardless of it’s colour coating.
Freshwater pearls have become more and more popular throughout the fashion industry.
Tahitian Pearls are Dark and Exotic. They are found on the black-lip pearl oyster.
These pearls are often referred to as black. However they have an amazing colour variety – from creamy white, grey, rich greens, peacock and deep black. Unlike more common pearls, Tahitian pearls are usually darker in colour. Tahitian pearls have become some of the most wanted, most expensive pearls in the world. Due to their vast color variety, matching these pearls into a finished jewelry piece is not an easy task. It would require thousands of loose pearls to create a single strand.
Don’t let the “Tahitian” name throw you off. These pearls are not actually produced in Tahiti. Tahiti is the main trading post for all reefs that produce Tahitian pearls. Black-lip pearls are mainly farmed in Polynesia. Although they can also be farmed in different parts of the world, including Japan. Only those farmed in Polynesia can be called Tahitian.
Tahitian pearls are worth more than freshwater and akoya pearls. There was once a time where a strand of Tahitian Pearls would range from $10,000 + up. Today, these strands are available anywhere from $2000 – $4000. Thanks to the pearl farming we have now-a-days, Tahitians are available all over the world at reasonable prices.
Pearls and Fashion
Pearls are definitely a fashion trend that will be forever stylish. They’re elegant, stylish and depending on your wardrobe, they can have a somewhat vintage vibe. Due to the white and pale colour varieties pearls come in, it makes it an ever-lasting accessory. White and pastels are easy to match with anything. It’s considered to be one of the most versatile fashion accessories. There was once a time where pearls were associated with wealth and prestige.
Although Audrey Hepburn did wear them best with her little black dress, pearls are no longer limited to fancy parties or special occasions. They are seen all over the fashion scene. They can be matched with jeans and a t-shirt or a big baggy sweater and leggings.
Pearls are not only for jewelery. They can be seen on clothing, purses and shoes.
Pearls have also become part of the layering necklace craze. Mixing and matching different sizes and colours of pearls is quite fashionable. Multiple strands can give such a fashion forward effect. Not only necklaces! Simple earrings and stacked bracelets are always a good thing.
Here at Rainbow Minerals we were able to bring in a unique fresh water pearls. These pearls have a carved out pattern in which rhinestones have been embedded. These are one-of-a-kind pearls. This type of pearl would absolutely be considered a special event piece. This past summer we saw a numerous amount of brides using them for their big event. Also something special for a 50th birthday party. If you are a pearl fanatic this would be something you would want to get your hands on!