Learn all about the best quality Pearls

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About Pearls

The pearl is the birthstone for June, and also the anniversary gem for the Third and Thirtieth Wedding Anniversaries. Pearls are known as a symbol modesty, chastity and purity.

Pearls have been a source of fascination for centuries. They have been considered the most magical and feminine of all gems and are the only one created by a living organism. Pearls emanate a certain warmth and glow not found in other gems, due to their unique beginnings.

Pearls are found in pearl oysters. However, the origin of the pearl mystified humans for centuries. Many theories were put forward regarding the origin of pearls however, it wasn’t until the turn of the twentieth century that the relationship between pearl oysters and parasites was discovered.

Pearls were created when a foreign body of some sort, such as a grain of sand or a parasite, found its way into a pearl oyster. The oyster reacted by coating the irritant with layer upon layer of the pearly substance known as ‘nacre’, that gives the pearl its unique appearance and iridescent beauty. This unique relationship gave birth to the natural pearl.

The cultured pearl was created as a way of guaranteeing a steady supply of pearls and satisfying the demands of the consumer. Cultured pearls are formed with a helping hand. In this case, humans rather than nature introduce the irritant: a bead or nucleus is inserted into the oyster by a technician to create a pearl which turns out every bit as natural as one that originated in the wild.

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Due to the rarity and high price of natural pearls, cultured pearls feature predominantly in jewellery stores. Side by side, it is very difficult to tell the difference between a natural pearl and a high quality cultured pearl with the naked eye.

Pearls are composed of between 82-86% mineral (calcium carbonate), 10-14% organic binder and 2-4% water. They are very soft and can be chipped quite easily.

The name ‘pearl’ has various origins. The Teutonic derivation comes from the noun beere, meaning berry. Latin derivations are pirium, a sphere, andpirula, a pear. The Romans used the Greek wordmargarita, describing something of unique value, a cherished possession or a favourite child.