The English word pearl comes from the French perle, originally from theLatin word: Perna.
About the Pearl – The pearl is a hard object produced within the soft tissue of a living shelled mollusk. Just like the shell of a mollusk, a pearl is made up of calcium carbonate in minute crystalline form, which has been deposited in concentric layers. The ideal pearl is perfectly round and smooth, but many other shapes of pearls (baroque pearls) occur. The finest quality natural pearls have been highly valued as gemstones objects of beauty for many centuries, and because of this, the word pearl has become a metaphor for something very rare, fine, admirable, and valuable.
The difference between wild and cultured pearls focuses on whether the pearl was created spontaneously by nature – without human intervention – or with human aid. Pearls are formed inside the shell of certain mollusks as a defense mechanism against a potentially threatening irritant such as a parasite inside its shell, or an attack from outside, injuring the mantle tissue. The mollusk creates a pearl sac to seal off the irritation.
Natural pearls are nearly 100% calcium carbonate and conchiolin. It is thought that natural pearls form under a set of accidental conditions when a microscopic intruder or parasite enters a bivalve mollusk, and settles inside the shell. The mollusk, being irritated by the intruder, forms a pearl sac of external mantle tissue cells and secretes the calcium carbonate and conchiolin to cover the irritant. This secretion process is repeated many times, thus producing a pearl. Natural pearls come in many shapes, with perfectly round ones being comparatively rare.
Cultured pearls are the response of the shell to a tissue implant. A tiny piece of mantle tissue from a donor shell is transplanted into a recipient shell. This graft will form a pearl sac and the tissue will precipitate calcium carbonate into this pocket. There are a number of options for producing cultured pearls: use freshwater or seawater shells, transplant the graft into the mantle or into the gonad, add a spherical bead or do it non-beaded. The majority of saltwater cultured pearls are grown with beads. The trade name of the cultured pearls are Akoya, white or golden South sea, and black Tahitian. The majority of beadless cultured pearls are mantle-grown in freshwater shells in China, known as freshwater cultured pearls.
Quality natural pearls are very rare jewels. The actual value of a natural pearl is determined in the same way as it would be for other “precious” gems. The valuation factors include size, shape, color, quality of surface, orient and luster.
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Blog post by ~ Jelene