In this part, we’ll tell you all about pearls and a bit more. To understand a bit better how pearls are formed, we first need to know what they are made of, which is a tight, shiny and usually white element that covers the inside of certain mollusks. Mother-of-pearl is composed of organic matter and calcium carbonate.
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All About Pearls: Natural, Cultivated and Authentic
A pearl is formed after a particularly complex biological process and is the result of a defense mechanism in place of the oyster or mother-of-pearl, which protects it from the elements that can cause damage. Although it is not only mother-of-pearl or oysters that produce pearls, there are also certain cases, although much rarer, where mussels and clams can create pearls.
Living creatures that can make pearls are called bivalves because their shell is made up of two shells (i.e., two parts). Among them, we find the oyster and the mother-of-pearl, among other aspects. These two parts are joined together by a type of membrane that functions as a joint, allowing the animal to open and close. Bivalves are usually opened for eating, and the rest of the time they are closed to protect themselves from all external hazards of their shells.
Inside the shell, we can find all its organs, such as the mouth, the gills, the digestive system, the muscles and the mantle, which is a covering for the organs. This mantle is responsible for creating the mother-of-pearl of which the shell is made, thus transforming the food ingested by the animal.
All about pearls: How are natural pearls created?
If any element is introduced unwanted between the shell and the mantle, it will automatically generate a reaction, causing the mantle to defend itself by covering it with mother-of-pearl. If this element is held in place for a sufficient period, the animal will be included with different layers of mother-of-pearl until it forms a pearl.
The most precious pearls in jewelry stores are the whitest and the most rounded. However, all pearls turn out to be pearls, as they exist in almost all colors (including black pearls) and irregular shapes depending on the food ingested by the animal. However, as mentioned above, the more perfect the sphere, the more valuable it will be.
How can cultured pearls be formed?
To obtain and create a pearl artificially, you have to force nature. The process involves opening the pearl, making a small cut in the coat, and introducing some irritating element. This way it will be covered with mother-of-pearl. The pearls that are formed with this system are designated as cultivated pearls, and being able to be created in large quantities, are somewhat less appreciated. However, you have to know that the quality is the same as in natural pearls.
How can you recognize the natural pearls of the cultivated and the false ones?
Authentic pearls are an experience far removed from those provided by imitation pearls, the former are of unparalleled beauty and harmony, warmth and sensuality, so we invite you to learn with us how to identify and distinguish real pearls from imitations that do not have the same charm and, of course, lack the same value.
If we get like the purists, the vast majority of the pearls found in the market are cultivated pearls. We are referring, of course, to the market for authentic pearls. As we already know this consideration comes to be for natural pearls and cultivated pearls.
Also, the figures speak for themselves: approximately 98% of the genuine pearls used in the jewelry market come from pearl farms. From the end of the 19th century, the Japanese managed to develop pearl cultivation and the collection of natural pearls was thus relegated to oblivion.
We have to realize that pearls, whether natural or cultured, are considered authentic pearls because the process of creating these organic gems arises in the same way, that is, within the bivalve pearls. What differentiates them is the stimulus that initiates the process of pearl formation.
It is virtually impossible to distinguish most natural from cultured pearls through external analysis. In principle, at least one radiological examination is required.
Fake pearls: Imitation pearls or Majorca pearls
Imitation pearls are generally used in jewelry, although cultured pearls are also used less frequently. The creation of imitation pearls is artificial, applying in the vast majority of cases an entirely industrial methodology to achieve them.
These false pearls receive a large number of pseudonyms, being these: faux pearls, Majorca pearls, shell core pearls, shell pearls, etc.., in the world of imitation pearls, we can find them of better and worse quality. The best quality and finish are made of glass, ceramic, shell or plastic beads. They are covered with a varnish that has the appearance and texture of pearls (i.e., mother-of-pearl) that is created by crushing fish scales or shells.
How can real cultivated pearls be distinguished from imitation pearls?
How can you recognize authentic pearls? The simplest and safest answer is to request analysis and certificate of authenticity from the expert jeweler and the pearls, however, the price can be a bit of a deterrent to anyone. If you want to be self-sufficient and save a little money, we can show you some practice tests that will help you to know the authenticity of the pearls in contrast to the imitations.
You can do it in two ways, being these rubbed against your teeth or rub the pearls together.
Rub the pearls against your teeth
This test will give you an exact notion of your touch. The way to do this is to hold the pearl with your index finger and thumb and pass it against the edges of the upper incisors.
The pearls that are imitation will glide smoothly over your tooth surface. However, the cultivated pearls will offer you a little resistance, producing a sandy touch thanks to the nacre and the small imperfections that it presents.
Very carefully and if you dare, you can also bite the pearl as gently as you can, so if you hear a little cracking, that’s going to be an indisputable sign of its authenticity.
Rub the pearls against each other
If you are faced with real cultured pearls, when rubbing them together you will notice that, when rubbing them together, you will feel a small sensation of friction, because the biological production of the real pearl means that the surface is not entirely smooth and has that characteristic rough and sandy touch that generates that sensation.
Besides, not only that, if you look closely at your fingers or the pearls themselves, you will discover how a layer of fine but entirely perceptible dust has been generated, which is not going to happen with the fake pearls.
Are they perfectly round?
We have already commented in previous paragraphs that real pearls do not have a smooth surface. Therefore, they are not perfect spheres either; they tend to be somewhat elongated or to present some other type of somewhat irregular spherical shapes.
If the pearl is round, it is entirely possible that you are facing an imitation. Cultured pearls or real natural pearls are not perfect spheres. On infrequent occasions they are, but we would be talking about extremely exceptional pieces, which are very valuable for their rarity.
An excellent way to determine authenticity is to roll them. If the trajectory of the pearl is wholly linear and balanced, you have to start to distrust it. A real pearl will have a much more irregular and unbalanced trajectory.
If you have a pearl necklace in which all the pearls are the same and spherical, you have a good chance that they are fake.
All about the pearls: The magnifying glass test
A magnifying glass will help you to see what is the typical flake texture of real pearls compared to the mottled texture or granular characteristics of imitations. With the magnifying glass, you will be able to verify the imperfections of the surface of the authentic pearls, the explicit testimony of legitimacy.
It is not very common in a typical home, but if you can use a microscope, it is better than better.
All about the pearls: The scratch test
For this test the best thing to do is to make a small scratch on the surface of the pearl with some sharp object, it has to be very close to the drill hole, so if little fine dust is released you can be very sure to be in front of a real pearl.
This test on an imitation bead can cause the glossy surface to peel off in a layer. Many of them have an excellent enamel imitation of nacre.
The drill hole is the perfect hole to examine for fake pearls. These may show an artificial core in this part because the shiny layer is damaged. Usually, real pearls have sharp edges in the holes. Fake ones are usually much more rounded.
It is necessary to be very careful because with the passage of time the authentic pearls, by a slow process of erosion, can have holes very similar to those of the fake pearls.
Each of these tests will help you become an expert at differentiating authentic pearls. Try examining many types of pearls, and whenever you have one at your fingertips don’t hesitate to test your new learning. In the world of pearls, although in the world of jewelry in general, one could say that experience is much more important than theory.
Types of pearls: A compliment for brides
It is pretty curious, but for a long time pearls on the wedding day were linked to bad luck, a myth that was gradually giving way thanks to the fact that many brides choose pearl accessories for their big day.
Far from every superstition, pearls are gorgeous, elegant and delicate reasons enough to be the best allies to use on such a special occasion as the wedding, with great zeal if the wedding dress is lovely and ethereal. Also, the accessories with pearls are very classic and will always be valid, so if you are a reasonably traditional bride, you can also opt for pearls.
In this case, it is the ideal moment to get to know the different types of pearls:
The cultivated pearls of the South Sea
Generally, its shape is round or asymmetrical; they have some sparkles being these silver or gold and is one of the most expensive. They are grown in Northern Australia, the Philippines or Indonesia.
They stand out because they have a wide range of colors and shapes that can be round, as well as semi-round, ringed or baroque.
These pearls are often found in lakes or rivers in China and Japan. What’s new? It’s that they grow on freshwater mussels.
The pearls of Akoya
They are a type of light and pink pearls and are used with diamonds. They are cultivated in the salt water of the Sea of Japan.