Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gem of the Week: The Pearl

South Sea Pearl and Diamond Earclips
Lang Estate and Antique Jewelry

A natural pearl is one of the most beautiful and rare treasures of the world. A pearl is formed of calcium carbonate and is created when grit enters the soft tissue of a mollusk. In order to protect its tissue, the mollusk secretes nacre around the foreign object to smooth it. Layer upon layer of nacre, in time, creates a pearl. It goes to show that some of the most beautiful things are born of irritation. The most valuable pearls are round natural pearls. However, pearls come in a variety of natural shapes. Oblong, egg-shaped, oval or irregularly shapes pearls are often referred to as “Baroque Pearls.”

The majority of pearls on the market today are “cultured pearls” meaning that they don’t occur on their own in natural circumstances. Cultured pearls are farmed from “Pearl Oysters” which are manipulated by man in controlled settings to create the pearls. A “pearl farmer” intentionally irritates the oyster by adding foreign elements into its system so that the oyster must create a pearl.

Pearls can come from mollusks in saltwater or in freshwater. Pearls from the sea are generally regarded as more valuable. The beauty of a pearl is in its iridescent luster—a property it gets from the nacre. Pearls come in a wide range of colors from white to pink to black. For centuries, the pearl has been regarded as one of the most valuable natural creations—admired for its beauty and valued for their rarity. Who could possibly argue with the simple elegance of a shining pearl?

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