Pearls are tiny organic objects produced by shellfish, like oysters and mussels. Pearl-making is actually an oyster’s way to protect itself from small irritants that enter its body.
The pearls within the shell (whether natural or cultured) are created when a mollusc produces layers of nacre (pronounced NAYkur) amid an irritant within the shell.
Since obtaining natural pearls is part of a difficult process, they do cost more than cultured ones.
However, most of the pearls you’ll find are actually cultured and freshwater pearls. Cultured pearls are created by the deliberate insertion of irritants into oysters in order to trigger their defence mechanism. This process also gives the pearl-maker more control of the size and shape of the pearl since they can insert a bigger and rounder bead to encourage the oyster to create a smoother pearl. Additionally, freshwater pearls are made during a similar process, except that they’re made by freshwater mussels.
The quality of the nacre decides the excellence and overall appearance of the pearl from its shine right down to its value and beauty. The pearl should be flawless, smooth and can vary from being rounded to oval or even misshapen.
What can be finer than owning a graceful set of pearls which are surely the epitome of elegance? Being a classic piece of jewellery, they never go out of fashion and are highly prized. Most Grandmothers have worn pearls, and they remain fashionable today.
History of Pearls
It’s interesting to observe the history of pearls as they date back to Ancient Greece; however, it wasn’t until the 20th century that pearls became valued as gems.
The sixteenth century in England was known as the famous Pearl Age, reflecting the prestige carried by pearls at the time. Pearls became more fashionable as Asian societies learned how to create cultured pearls during the 1900s. This process was obtained by placing a tiny nucleus around a living oyster and so creating oyster farms.
Did you know?
The pearl is a symbol of excellence and purity and a symbol of long life and fertility, and due to its lustre, it is often considered a MOON symbol. Buried within the oyster shell, the pearl signifies deep, mysterious hidden knowledge, and it is ultra-feminine.
Black pearls are the most intriguing-looking of all coloured pearls and represent secrecy, freedom, power, and treasure.
The value of a pearl varies depending on the type, size, colour, surface and quality.
The most expensive pearl measuring 26 inches was discovered by a fisherman in 1934 near the Palawan islands and is now valued at $100 million. It remains on display at New York’s Ripley Museum.