Pearls from ancient times are associated with beauty, elegance and purity. In ancient times they were used in medicine believing that they have healing properties and in some cultures that they can lead them to immortality. In ancient Greece, pearls symbolized the tears of the gods.
How pearls are created
When inside a pearl shell a foreign body invades e.g. a grain of sand, the shell can not expel it so it secretes a substance around it in order to neutralize it. This substance is called mother of pearl. The shell during its 6 to 7 years of life, surrounds the garbage with many layers of mother of pearl, which hardens, That way a pearl is created.
Categories of pearls
There are two categories of pearls natural and cultivable.
Pearls that are created randomly inside a shell or an oyster are called natural pearls while pearls that are created inside a shell or an oyster with human intervention are called cultivable pearls.
In modern times most pearls are cultivable.
The hotter the water in which the pearl is grown, the larger it becomes.
The most popular varieties of pearls are the following:
- Fresh Water pearls. We find them in various colors.
- Biwa pearls. They are grown in fresh water and are white and cream in color.
- South Sea pearls. They have white, cream and gold shades.
- Golden South Sea pearls. They are pearls produced mainly in the seas of Australia. Their main feature is their shine and natural golden color.
- Baroque pearls. They are pearls that have an irregular shape and are usually grown in fresh water, but they can also be grown in salt water. They are usually drop-shaped. We find them in various colors.
- Akoya pearls. They are pearls that have a round shape and are grown in salt water. They are white and cream.
- Tahitian pearls. They are cultivated in the seas of the Pacific Ocean. They are black, dark green, gray and blue-gray.
- Cortez pearls. They are pearls that are grown in Cortez Bay, California and have intense iridescence and unusual colors.
- Mabe pearls. They are pearls that have a hemispherical shape, like a button. Due to their flat surface on one side they are used for earrings and rings.
What determines the quality and value of a pearl
The value of a pearl depends on the following: shape, size, gloss, surface and color.
- Shape that is most in demand in pearls is the round one. Perfect round pearls are rare so they have greater value.
- Pearl’s size is measured in millimeters. The larger the diameter, the higher its value. The thickness of the mother of pearl also plays a role in this. If the mother of pearl is thin is considered of inferior quality.
- Gloss refers to the reflection of the surface of the pearl in the light. The greater the reflection the better quality it is.
- When we refer to the surface of the pearl we mean its purity. The purity of the pearl depends on the size and number of spots or bumps on its surface. The more spotless it is, the higher the value of the pearl.
- The color of the pearl is determined by the oyster. It can be white, pink, gray, cream, gold or black