Pearl Jewellery Guide
Natural Pearls are pearls formed in an oyster (by the oyster), in a salt water environment completely by chance.
Saltwater Cultured Pearls
Saltwater Cultured Pearls are pearls formed in an oyster (by the oyster), in a salt water environment but they have been given a helping hand by man. Both Natural and Cultured Pearls are genuine pearls.
Cultured Pearls themselves are relatively rare, as they can only be developed in limited areas of the world’s oceans and take years to grow. These pearls range in size, from 8mm to 18mm, and come in a vast range of shapes and colours.
These pearls are the result of an intricate operation where an ‘irritant’ (or spherical mother of pearl bead nucleus) is inserted into the living oyster. The animal then coats this bead with a crystalline substance called ‘nacre’ to create a beautiful pearl.
Cultured pears are of such a quality that they do not require bleaching, tinting, dying or skinning. Their beauty will never fade because they are pure and untreated, ensuring they can be passed down from generation to generation.
Freshwater Cultured Pearls
Freshwater Cultured Pearls are pearls formed in a mollusc (such as a clam or mussel, by the animal) in a fresh water environment, such as fresh water lakes and rivers. Freshwater Cultured Pearls also require human intervention but are still considered genuine pearls.
Freshwater pearls differ from cultured pearls in that they are not bead-nucleated; rather, a small incision is made into the fleshy mantle tissue of the mollusc’s body and a piece of mantle tissue from an oyster’s body is inserted. This process may be completed up to 25 times on either side of the mollusc’s body, producing up to 50 pearls at a time. The molluscs are then returned to their freshwater environment where they are tended for 2-6 years. The resulting pearls are of solid nacre, however without a bead-nucleus to guide the pearl’s growth process, the pearls are not always perfectly round in shape.
Freshwater Pearls appear in a wide variety of shapes and colours, and they are less expensive than saltwater pearls, which make them extremely popular.
Imitation pearls are man-made to look like natural or cultured pearls.
Caring for your Pearl Jewellery
Like any jewellery of value, pearls require proper care to keep them looking good. To ensure that your pearls' lustre never fades, never use abrasives or solvents to clean pearls. Avoid cleaning products with ammonia and do not use anything that could scratch the surface, including toothbrushes. Always wait until fully dry since wearing a moist necklace can stretch the string.