Pearl

"“A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls"

Coco Chanel

June Birthstone

Pearls are your lucky birthstone if you were born in the month of June. 

 

History

The word pearl derives from the word "perla". In medieval times this was used as an occupational surname in many European countries for a trader in pearls and other precious stones. It has also been used as an ornamental name given to refugees, the derivation being from the ancient Hebrew female name "Margalit".

Origin

Pearls are not minerals because they are formed by living organisms called molluscs, for example, oysters. A oyster will form a pearl if there is a nucleus to start from. Sometimes an individual grain of sand is all that is needed.

Cultured Pearls Versus Natural Pearls

A Natural Pearl is formed when an irritant accidentally finds its way into the soft tissue of the muscle in an oyster.  As a defence mechanism, the oyster produces secretions to coat the irritant.  Over time, many layers of coating are deposited over the irritant making the irritant smooth and easing the discomfort. A natural pearl is thus born.

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A Cultured Pearl is formed the same way as a natural pearl. The difference is that a shell bead is manually inserted. It may take over 100,000 oysters to get enough high quality pearls to make a pearl necklace. Matching  natural pearls to make a  pearl strand is extremely difficult since they are never round or uniform in size and colour. A well- matched natural pearl strand can be extremely expensive.

Baroque Pearls

 

Pearls with an irregular non-spherical shape. Shapes can range from minor aberrations to distinctly ovoid, curved, pinch, or lumpy shapes. Most cultured freshwater pearls are baroque because freshwater pearls are mantle-tissue nucleated instead of bead nucleated. Cultured saltwater pearls can also be baroque, but tend to be more teardrop-shaped due to the use of a spherical nucleation bead.

The most valuable of baroque pearls are the South Sea and Tahitian pearls. These pearls are produced by Pinctada margaritifera (black-lipped oysters) and Pinctada maxima (gold-lipped and white-lipped oysters). Although these are a variety of cultured saltwater pearls, the amount of time that the pearls are cultured dramatically increases the depth of the nacre, and the likelihood of producing a baroque pearl.

 

Most Tahitian pearl farm harvests, for example, produce more than 40 percent baroque and semi-baroque pearls. Western Australia is currently the world's largest cultivator of Pinctada maxima gold-lipped oysters. Tahiti is the number one cultivator of Pinctada maxima black-lipped oysters.

Wikipedia