Do you Know Whether You Own Natural or Cultured Pearls?

Do you Know Whether You Own Natural or Cultured Pearls?

A pearl that is called natural is developed inside an animal such as clam, oyster, gastropod or conch. A cultured pearl of one that is made on a farm.

What is a pearl?

When an irritant enters the mollusk such as:

  • Grain of sand;
  • Piece of food;
  • Piece of mantle from the mollusk.

It becomes trapped in the mollusk and in order to protect itself, the mollusk begins secreting elements used to build its shell – such as:

  • mineral known as aragonite;
  • protein known as conchiolin.

These elements secrete in layers and this is the way a pearl is formed.

Difference in pearls

Subject to how these materials are arranged, the pearl will have a surface resembling porcelain or a high luster called nacre or mother of pearl.

Wild pearl

A pearl that is known as wild often has several imperfections. How you can tell an artificial pearl from a natural pearl is howit feels – rub it against your teeth and the natural pearl will have a gritty feel while an artificial one will have a smooth feel.

Pearl farming

Most people wearing pearls of some type do not realize that most of the pearls today are developed in what is called “farming” and not grown naturally. Natural or wild pearls are not used much because of years of over-fishing due to the demand for pearls that were perfectly round. Often thousands of mollusks would have to be wasted looking for that one mollusk that has the perfect natural pearl.

At the start of the 20th century a new way to grow pearls was developed and this development creates what currently is called a cultured pearl.

Farming pearls

Basically the process involves the insertion of an irritant into an oyster and caring for that oyster until it has developed a pearl. In the industry of pearl jewelry almost all jewelry is made from pearls that are grown with this method.

Best pearls

Most people involved in the business of pearl jewelry believe that the largest and best freshwater pearls currently are produced from China. Almost all freshwater and Akoya produced pearls come from China. Most of these are then shipped to Japan for assembly and then will have “made in Japan” put on them – which really could not be any further from the truth. When you are in the market for pearl jewelry it is wise to know exactly where the pearls you are looking at really came from.

If you have any questions about pearls you can always talk to someone at

Categories: Pearls

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