Pearl, June's birthstone, is one
of the most revered gems on the planet. If rubies are the “King
of Gems”, then pearls are the “Queen of Gems”. The word for pearl
literally means "unique", attesting to the fact that no
two pearls are identical. In the Romance languages (Spanish, French,
Italian), margarita means pearl. In Chinese the word for pearl means
Nobody exactly knows when human being first wore pearls. There are
a lot of archeological findings and historical records about the
people in Middle East, Indian, China, Europe and America who wore
pearls in ancient times. The oldest known natural pearl necklace,
which now resides in the Louvre in Paris, was traced back to a Persian
Princess of the fourth century B.C.
In legend, pearls have possessed special mystical powers and healing
virtues. Roman women are believed to have slept with pearls to sweeten
their dreams, as well as embroidered them tirelessly into their
clothes and upholstery. In ancient Asian cultures, pearls were used
in medicinal ways to cure eye ailments, heart trouble, indigestion,
fever and bleeding. In India, pearls were believed to give peace
of mind and strength of body and soul. Europeans also believed that
the powder of the pearl could cure matters of the mind and heart,
and strengthen nerves. Due to rarity of natural pearl, pearls just
were worn by royalties or rich people in ancient time. The revolution
of pearl took place just one hundred years ago when cultured pearls
appeared. In the early times of last century Japanese (Kokichi Mikimoto,
Tokichi Nishikawa and Tatsuhei Mise) first successfully cultured
the pearls in the oysters. Before 1950 Japan was the biggest base
to produce cultured pearls. From then on pearls have come down to
common people’s life.
How pearl comes into being?
The inside of an oyster's shell is covered with a smooth shiny coating
called mother-of-pearl. When an irritant, such as a grain of sand
enters the oyster’s body but cannot be expelled, the oyster secretes
layers of nacre (mother-of-pearl) to protect its body by coating
the irritant. The coated grain of sand becomes a pearl. For cultured
pearls, workers slightly open their shells, cut small slits into
the mantle tissue inside both shells, and insert small pieces of
live mantle tissue from another mussel into those slits. Most cultured
freshwater pearls are composed entirely of nacre, just like their
natural freshwater and natural saltwater counterparts.
The structure of pearls.
In most pearls, the mineral aragonite is arranged in sheets of flat,
six-sided crystals. Between each sheet, the oyster secretes a very
thin layer of the membrane-forming protein conchiolin. This composite
material is called nacre mother-of-pearl. The crystalline structure
of nacre reflects light in a unique way, giving so-called nacreous
pearls their high luster.
The kinds of pearls.
The natural pearls are very rare and very difficult to get. Now
the pearls are mostly cultured pearls. They can be categorized by
seawater pearl and freshwater pear roughly. Depending on the yield
and producing region they can be divided into 4 kinds roughly: Tahitian
pearl, South Sea pearl, Akoya pearl and Chinese freshwater pearl.
Tahitian pearls offer a dramatic touch. The natural black color
of these pearls comes from the color of the oyster's black lips.
These pearls are traditionally called "black," but their
color can range from metallic silver, to the color of graphite.
And within this range of colors they can have bluish, purplish,
or greenish. Tahitian cultured pearls are cultivated from the black-lipped
oyster which reaches a foot or more in diameter, and produces very
large pearls. This oyster is very sensitive to the pearl culturing
process, which makes the pearls very costly to produce.
South Sea cultured pearls are exceptional quality pearls with a
whitish, almost silver color. They are much larger than the average
pearl, the smoothness and roundness of these pearls are exceptional.
These are the rarest and extraordinary pearls you'll find in jewelry.
South sea pearls come from a kind of big oysters. Those oysters
are much larger than the oysters that produce Akoya and freshwater
pearls, so the pearls that they produce are much larger as well.
Because of the rarity and sensitivity of this type of oyster, cultivation
of these pearls is much more difficult and it takes much longer
time, thus making them more expensive.
Akoya pearls are the specialty of Japanese pearl farms. The first
pearls to be cultured early in the 1920s with white color. Akoya
pearl looks very similar to the Freshwater pearl. When compared
side-by-side, the difference is clear. Besides being more expensive,
Akoya pearls are on average larger, smoother, rounder, and more
lustrous than Freshwater pearls.
Most freshwater pearls come from China. Chinese cultured pearl start
in 1960s. It developed very quickly due to rich natural resources
and constant renovation in this technology. The shapes, luster,
and colors of the new Chinese production often match the quality
of Japanese pearls and sometime even surpass them. China even cultured
different colored pearls such as black, pink and golden. But the
price of Chinese pearls is much lower than Japanese pearls. Chinese
cultured pearls (mainly fresh water cultured pears) occupied the
international market soon. Now China is the biggest country to produce
pearls. With the yield of cultured pearls increasing, pears become
popular jewelry among the ladies all over the world. Most famous
natural pearls are from Persian Gulf. They are very rare and most
expensive. The most famous brands of pearls are Mikimoto from Japan
and Lupearl from Taiwan, China.
How to take care of pearl?
Keep pearl away from chemicals and high temperature. Otherwise immediate
cleaning is necessary.
Take it off while bathing to avoid corrosion, chain loosing or even
breaking. Keep it separately and don’t mix it with other jewelry
to avoid scratch. And put it in the soft silk bag or casket. Do
not store in the sealed plastic bag.
Clean it with soft teeth-brush and neutral depurative, then air
it. Or you could clean it in the special jewelry store.
How to distinguish the genuine pearl from the fake pearl?
Real pear feels warm but fake pear feel cold. Real pearl is heavier
than the fake one. Real pearl has natural nacre and is a little
bit rough but fake pearl is very smooth so you can rub them or test
Pearls’ quality and value.
The quality and value of the pearl depend on its size, shape, luster,
color and surface. Bigger pearl is more valuable than the smaller
one. Luster is the most important factor in choosing pearls. The
inner glow of the pearl combined with the surface brilliant luster.
One of the most distinctive features of a nacreous pearl is the
way it seems to glow from within. This property, known as "luster,"
gives pearls their unusual beauty. Luster results from the reflection
of light rays not only from the surface of the pearl, but also from
the concentric inner layers of nacre. Because a pearl's surface
is round, it acts as a convex mirror, reflecting light so that it
appears to emanate from within the pearl. The multiple layers of
nacre also give rise to the "iridescence" of pearls’ characteristic
that resembles the shimmer seen on a soap bubble. The layers of
nacre act like tiny prisms, refracting light so that it appears
as all the colors of the rainbow.
The higher the luster is, the thicker the nacre or secretion from
the oyster is so the stronger the glow is. Lower quality pearls
appear too white or dull. The smoothness of the pearl's surface,
from clean to heavily blemished, is the next consideration. Cracks
in the nacre are considered damage. Because pearls are grown in
an oyster and are organic gems they are almost never flawless. The
gem-quality pearl may have minute blemishes when examined very closely,
but they are not noticeable at arm's length. Similarly, it is very
rare to find a perfectly round pearl. The rounder the pearl, however,
the more valuable it is. Slightly off-round, semi-baroque and baroque
pearls are not as valuable as perfectly round pearls, however, they
can be lustrous and appealing and have a natural beauty and value
of their own. Cultured pearls range in color from white to black
with various multi-colored overtones. Freshwater cultured pearls
can be created in a spectrum of colors. Many popular colors - white,
pink, orange, and other pastels - can be achieved through natural
means, including the oysters’ gene. The food they eat and the amount
and type of metals the oysters absorb in the cultivating environment
also can influence the colors of the pearls. It is a widely-accepted
practice to treat or irradiate freshwater pearls in order to achieve
a particular or unusual color, and equally common to treat freshwater
pearls to create a more evenly-colored strand. So the natural colors
are much more valuable than the treated colors.
To choose the color of the pearl is really the wearer's preference.
Generally speaking, black pearl is rare and more valuable.
Pear jewelry includes necklace, stud earrings, pendent, bracelet,
brooch and ring. It can match with gold, silver and platinum.
Pearl power and pearl cream
The irregular pearls are always used to make medicine or cosmetic
in China. Pearl contains proteins and microelements. The pearl power
can nourish body and promote metabolism and put off aging. Pearl
cream can nourish skin and it can eliminate the wrinkles.
Hongqiao Pearl Market