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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 precious bead.
Pearl’s history
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 by teeth.
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.
Pearl jewelry
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.

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