Deep in the ocean, nature is at work. A tiny grain of sand works its way inside an oyster and the oyster protects itself with layer upon layer of a hard crystalline substance called nacre. It takes several years for this ongoing process to produce one special pearl.
We have learned to imitate this process by deliberately inserting a small fragment into an oyster, and then the natural process takes over. These are called cultured pearls вЂ“ and they are the source of almost all of today’s lovely pearls.
The results are not consistent, so each one is evaluated, based on: size, shape, surface, colour, luster, nacre, size and colour match
Size and shape
The size depends on two things: the size of the nucleus that is originally implanted in the oyster and the thickness of the layers of nacre. The size of a pearl is important, but even more important, in terms of quality, is the thickness of the nacre. Other factors feed into the value, such as the shape. The more perfect the sphere, the better the pearl.
Marks and colour
You would think that any marks on the pearl would signify a less perfect pearl but, in fact, tiny surface marks are seen as a hallmark of nature and proof of a pearl’s authenticity. We tend to think of pearls as creamy white, but cultured pearls also come in shades of black, blue, golden, pink and purple. Women love the flattering glow, the lustre and the way they reflect light.
South Sea Golden Pearls – large and golden-hued, developed from large oysters found in the South Seas
South Sea Baroque Pearls – irregularly shaped with protrusions and ridges
Keshi Pearls – sometimes form naturally along with cultivated pearls int he same oyster
Tahitian Pearls – very valuable, naturally black cultured pearls from black lipped oysters, also develop in grey, brown, blue, green, purple
Mabe Pearls – half spheres, cultured against the inside shell of an oyster
Freshwater Pearls – cultivated without a nuleus in freshwater lakes and streams and come in a variety of colous and shapes
Kasumiga Pearls – developed when a mantle in inserted into a rare species of messels producing naturally coloured cultured freshwater pearls ina variety of sizes