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Gemstones: Pearl


Pearl symbolizes love, success, and happiness.

Color: The color of pearls varies with the mollusk and its environment. It ranges from black to white, with the rose of Indian pearls esteemed most. Other colors are cream, gray, blue, yellow, lavender, green, and mauve. All occur in delicate shades.
Cultured pearls are being produced in virtually every color of the rainbow.

Description: The chief component of the nacre that constitutes the pearl is aragonite CaCO.
Pearls are formed by a mollusk consisting of the same material (called nacre, or mother-of-pearl) as the mollusk's shell. It is a highly valued gemstone.
The shell-secreting cells of the mollusk are located in the mantleof its body. When a foreign particle penetrates the mantle, the cells attach to the particle and build up more or less concentric layers of pearl around it. Irregularly shaped pearls called baroque pearls are those that have grown in muscular tissue. Pearls that grow adjacent to the shell are often flat on one side and are called blister pearls.
Pearls are characterized by their translucence and lustre and by a delicate play of surface color called orient. The more perfect its shape (spherical or droplike) and the deeper its lustre, the greater its value. Only those pearls produced by mollusks whose shells are lined with mother-of-pearl (e.g., certain species of both saltwater oysters and freshwater clams) are really fine pearls. Pearls from other mollusks are reddish or whitish, porcellaneous, or lacking in pearly lustre.
The surface of a pearl is rough to the touch. Pearls come in a wide range of sizes. Those weighing less than 1/4 grain (1 pearl grain = 50 milligrams = 1/4 carat) are called seed pearls. The largest naturally occurring pearls are the baroque pearls; one such pearl is known to have weighed 1,860 grains.
Cultured pearl is natural but cultivated pearl produced by a mollusk after the intentional introduction of a foreign object inside the creature's shell.

Birthstone: Pearl and cultured pearl along with alexandrite and moonstone are birthstones of Gemini (Twins): May 21 - June 21.

Wedding anniversary: Freshwater Pearl is the anniversary gemstone for the 1st year of marriage;
Pearl is the anniversary gemstone for the 12th and 30th year of marriage.

Varieties: Jewelers commonly refer to saltwater pearls as Oriental pearls and to those produced by freshwater mollusks as freshwater pearls.

Care and treatment: Pearls are less durable than most gems. They are sensitive to acids, dryness, and humidity. If you wear cosmetics, perfume or a hair spray, put these on before wearing your pearl jewelry. When taking off your pearls, wipe them with a dry, lint-free cloth. If needed, clean your pearls with warm soapy water being very careful to not get water into the drill hole as the pearl may discolor. Dry your pearls flat on an absorbant soft (preferably lint-free) towel.

From the stone history: The discovery that pearls could be cultivated in freshwater mussels is said to have been made in 13th-century China, and the Chinese have been adept for hundreds of years at cultivating pearls by opening the mussel's shell and inserting into it small pellets of mud or tiny bosses of wood, bone, or metal and returning the mussel to its bed for about three years to await the maturation of a pearl formation. Cultured pearls of China have been almost exclusively blister pearls.
The production of whole cultured pearls was perfected by the Japanese. The research that led to the establishment of the industry was started in the 1890s by Mikimoto Kokichi, who, after long experimentation, concluded that a very small mother-of-pearl bead introduced into the mollusk's tissue was the most successful stimulant to pearl production. Cultured pearls closely approximate natural pearls.

Shopping guide: Everyone seems to love the beauty of a strand of pearls. It is a classic piece of jewelry. Pearl often symbolizes a happy marriage and in many countries are used as a wedding gift.
The price of pearls vary widely as a result of luster, size, how they were grown, color and type. Natural pearls are the most expensive, followed by cultured pearls. Fresh water pearls tend to be relatively inexpensive.
Fake pearls is usually either too heavy (inside is filled with glass)or too light (inside is plastic). The most reliable method of testing if a pearl is natural or cultured is a combination of the X-radiography and X-ray fluorescence testing procedures. That means that you as a customer has no way to distinguish among two types of pearls. Hence stay with your independent professional retail jeweler.

Healing ability: Perls eliminate emotional imbalances. They help one master the heart chakra, aid stomach, spleen, intestinal tract & ulcer problems.

Mystical power: Pearl is said to help one see themselves and help improve self-worth. As an emblem of modesty, chastity and purity, the pearl symbolizes love, success, and happiness.

Deposits: The finest Oriental pearls are found in the Persian Gulf. Other notable sources of fine-quality pearls include the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka, the waters off Celebes, Indonesia, and the islands of the South Pacific. In the Americas, the Gulf of California, the Gulf of Mexico, and the waters of the Pacific coast of Mexico have yielded dark-hued pearls with a metallic sheen as well as white pearls of good quality.
Freshwater mussels in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere have produced pearls of great value, as for example those from the Mississippi River. Pearling is a carefully fostered industry in central Europe, and the forest streams of Bavaria, in particular, are the source of choice pearls. Freshwater pearling in China has been known from before 1000 BC.
Cultured pearls: Northern Australia established its first cultured pearl farms in the 1960s, that by the mid-1970s were an established industry, producing pearl shell as well as pearls. Japan and Australia are the largest producers of cultured pearls, though Fiji also produces some.

See our collection of pearl necklases!

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