Pearls are unlike any other gemstone. While diamonds, sapphires, rubies and other stones hail from the earth, pearls are the only gemstone created by a living organism. Since every pearl is created by an oyster or mussel, each gem is one of a kind that can never be replicated.
How Pearls Are Made: Nucleation
Though pearls used to be made naturally by the oyster itself, overfarming in history left few natural pearls. Today, almost every single pearl available is created through pearl culturing. Pearls are cultured in many different parts of the world, from Japan and China to the South Sea to rivers in the United States. In order to prompt a pearl to grow naturally inside an oyster or mussel, a tiny irritant, usually a small piece of oyster shell or a bead, must be inserted with a piece of oyster mantle tissue.
This step, known as pearl nucleation, begins the pearl formation process. It is the only human interference required to create a pearl, although careful watch over the growing pearls is usually done as well. Pearl bearing oysters are very picky about their environment and food source, so pearl farms take great care in keeping the water temperature and nutrients at the optimal level for the oysters to thrive.
How Pearls Are Made: Pearl Formation
Once the pearl has been nucleated, the oyster takes over the process by secreting a nacre that coats the irritant placed inside of it. The nacre forms the lustrous, smooth surface that pearls are admired for, and the thicker the nacre the more valuable and higher quality the pearl. Depending on the type of pearl, full formation of the nacre can take three or more years. South Sea pearls take the longest to form the complete nacre, form the thickest nacre, and can only support one pearl at a time, which is why they are the rarest and most prized. Freshwater pearls are formed by mussels that can support the growth of multiple pearls simultaneously, which is why the price of freshwater pearls is much lower.
How Pearls Are Made: From Oyster to Pearl Necklace
To create a beautiful pearl necklace, pearls must be sorted into similar shape and size groups. They are then carefully drilled and strung onto high quality silk thread with knots to keep the jewelry in place. Since silk thread can stretch when washed, it is important to always dry pearls flat if they come in contact with water.
To shop for beautiful South Sea, Akoya and Freshwater pearl necklaces, visit the pearl jewelry section of Apples of Gold. We only carry high quality pearls, and have a wide selection of price ranges so anyone can afford the beauty of the pearl.
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Category: Jewelry History