Pearls are naturally created by a marine-based organism called a mollusk (otherwise known as an oyster). Natural pearls are extremely rare and hard to find. This is why many of the pearls that are available to consumers today are cultured pearls. In order to produce a cultured pearl one must introduce a grain of sand or a bead within an oyster or a mussel. This will irritate the mollusk, which instigates a response wherein the grain of sand or bead is coated with smooth layers of a substance called nacre. This crystallized element aids in forming the shell that results in giving the pearl its unique coloration and splendor. In order to produce a cultured pearl one must introduce a grain of sand or a bead within an oyster or a mussel. This will irritate the mollusk, which instigates a response wherein the grain of sand or bead is coated with smooth layers of a substance called nacre. This crystallized element aids in forming the shell that results in giving the pearl its unique coloration and splendor.
Cultured whole pearls are grouped by origin. These categories are comprised of four areas:
Listed below are the four types of cultured salt water pearls that James Allen offers. This select variety of pearls comes from saltwater pearl farms located worldwide.
Akoya pearls originate mainly in Japan and China. The oyster that produces Akoyas has the common name of Pinctada Fucata. These pearls range from two to nine millimeters in diameter, averaging six to seven millimeters. They also display a white appearance with a rose hue. The highest percentage of harvested Akoyas is spherical in shape. Due to the consistent size and shape of the Akoya, we often find that this quality of pearl brings forth perfectly matched strands.
The South Sea cultured pearl is known to Australia, Indonesia, and also the Philippines. The common name for the oyster in these areas is Pinctada Maxima. There are two kinds of Pinctada Maxima; gold-lipped and silver-lipped. While appearing golden, silver, or pale with a satin finish look, they are quite different from the reflective nature of the Akoya. In Australia, South Sea pearls are found in the wild and can range from ten to fifteen millimeters in diameter, averaging thirteen millimeters. Conversely, those found in Indonesia and the Philippines are hatchery-bred and fall roughly two millimeters smaller in size. The South Sea quality tends to be more expensive than that of the Akoya, so grouping them together in large matched strands is less practical. South Sea pearls are more often set into necklaces, rings, and other jewelry designs that require fewer pearls.
A Tahitian cultured pearl comes from the French Polynesian lagoons. Another well-known source of these pearls is the Cook Islands, an area made popular by the television series Survivor. The common name of the oyster that creates the Tahitian is Pinctada Margaritifera (also known as the black-lipped oyster). Producing a wide array of colors such as peacock, aubergine, and pistachio, these pearls range from eight to fourteen millimeters in diameter, averaging nine and a half millimeters. Mixing and matching large Tahitians with the unusual color schemes that are offered can create jewelry that will demand high prices. However, much like the South Sea cultured pearls, the Tahitian quality is more affordable when sold in jewelry that accentuates singles, pairs, or sets.
Similar to the Akoya, the Freshwater cultured pearl is also native to China. However, this pearl does not derive from an oyster and is smaller and less spherical in shape. The color of these pearls can be unique because their color is based upon natural attributes of the mussel as well as the fact that it can be treated or irradiated to achieve a more desired color. The mollusks that produce these pearls are called mussels. The main producer of the Freshwater pearl is the Hyriopsis Cumingi. Small crops of these pearls are produced in Japan, but the majority of the world’s supply of the Freshwater quality comes from China. China can generate up to fifteen times the amount of these pearls when compared to all of the saltwater and freshwater producers combined mainly because a mussel can be harvested more than once, which results in several pearls at one time. Each of those pearls range between four to eleven millimeters in diameter in size. Seeing that there is such a high quantity of this quality it makes the Freshwater a much more affordable option when compared to the other cultured pearls.
Available in a rainbow of colors; pinkish, which is often called rose, silvery white, greenish white, creamy, golden overtones, gray, cognac and black. Color enhancement is considered the norm for both colored and white base pearls.
The diameter of a pearl measured in millimeters. Generally, the larger the pearl, the rarer and more valuable it is to find.
The more spherical and symmetrical the pearl the more valuable it will be. Baroque pearls, which are any unusually shaped and asymmetrical pearl, can be very attractive and are usually less expensive than round pearls.
The fewer the spots, discolorations, cracks or blemishes, the more expensive the pearl.
Luster (Pearl Luster) is the glow and brilliance of the pearl to the human eye. The longer the pearl is left in the oyster to form, the thicker the layer of nacre surrounding the pearl, the higher the luster.