Pearls . They are the product of a cystic reaction of a foreign particle inside the soft body of molluscs, especially in bivalves . The best known pearls are those considered as gems or precious stones, due to their symmetry and their particular luster. Precious pearls are mostly produced by oysters belonging to the Pteriidae family .
Natural pearls are formed when a foreign body penetrates into the mollusk’s body . It reacts by slowly covering the particle with a mixture of calcium carbonate crystals and a protein called conchiolin , forming the substance known as nacre . Nacre is the substance that covers the animal’s paleal cavity . After a variable period, the particle ends up covered by one or more layers of mother-of-pearl, forming a pearl.
The brightness of the pearl comes from light reflection on the crystalline surface, while the iridescence comes from light refraction and diffraction in the multiple layers of translucent mother-of-pearl that make up any pearl.
Pearls have been appreciated by all peoples since ancient times due to their rarity, beauty and extraordinary value.
Pearls are of variable size, color and shape. The value of the pearl is determined based on various criteria but it can be said that they focus on three:
- Desirable shape: For example, the perfect spheres or “tears”.
- The rarity of its color: Almost the entire range between white and black .
Although the aesthetic and size characteristics are fundamental in the valuation of a pearl, the final price depends largely on the fashion trends of the moment.
It is not known which was the first town that extracted the pearls from the oysters and later used them as decoration. But, because pearls have luster and shine almost immediately out of the oyster that made them, they may well have been used as ornaments since prehistoric times. Pearl-
making jewelry was a fairly widespread and favored activity among ancient peoples. However, due to their extreme rarity, pearls were one of the most valuable gems known to the peoples of the ancient world, reserved for the nobility and extremely wealthy characters. It seems that the custom of adornment with pearls originated in India and other parts of Asia, from where the Phoenicians spread it throughout Europe .
The Greeks called the pearl margarites , but it does not appear that its use became widespread until after the war of the Persians and the conquests of Alexander the Great . In Asia Minor his employment was extended after the conquest of Lydia by Cyrus.
Pearls are repeatedly spoken of in Proverbs, indicating that the Hebrews knew them. During the domination of the Ptolemies in Egypt , the use of pearls acquired extraordinary proportions, and later the great lords of the courts of Europe used pearls not only as an ornament, used in necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, etc. ., but for embroidery of dresses or simply as a garnish for these.
Pearls currently do not have as much monetary value as in past times, mainly because most of them are cultivated, which has devalued them due to an increase in supply.
Hence, numerous parables and sayings that have come down to the present referring to the proverbial value of pearls do not have the same resonance and semantic value today.
Pearl care and protection
Pearls are very easy to preserve. As it is an organic matter, it cannot be said that a pearl will be intact for an unlimited time, due to aging. But it can be said that a cultured pearl has an estimated duration of 150 years on average. Although there are pearls that can be centuries old and retain all their beauty. There are factors that contribute to the conservation and others to the deterioration of cultured pearls. For example extremes of humidity or dry environments are not good. It is important to isolate pearls from other objects that are harder, such as precious stones and other metals. They should not be exposed to perspiration, or perfume (contains alcohol), etc. To clean them, it is advisable to use a mild soap .
The pilgrim pearl
The Peregrina pearl is a pearl of unusual size and shape, and is considered one of the most valuable and legendary gems in the History of Europe . It was discovered in the waters of the Pearl Archipelago in Panama in the 16th century , and passed into the hands of King Felipe II of Spain , forming part of the jewels of the Crown of Spain.
In 1969 the Pilgrim goes to auction, and Richard Burton acquires it for the symbolic amount of $ 37,000, as a gift to his beloved Elizabeth Taylor . Liz Taylor is said to have kept her until her death.
Pearl of the South Sea or Australian
It is a type of pearl grown in the salty waters of northern Australia , Indonesia and the Philippines . It has a color gamut ranging from white to black . They stand out for their silver and gold iridescence.
It reaches sizes between 9 and 28 mm. Its shape can be perfectly round until it adopts an asymmetrical shape and a shine from medium to high. They are the best of their kind. The price varies depending on its brightness.The cultivation time of this pearl is three to 9 years.
The pearl of Tahiti
They are grown in temperate and salty waters of French Polynesia , by the Pinctada Margaritifera Oyster . They can be of different colors: gray , green , orange , gold , blue and black . The black pearls are unique, with an intense shine and reach 13 mm. The cultivation time of the Tahitian pearl is two to three years.
They are pearls grown in the salty water of Akoya , Asia . They have a round and symmetrical shape. Its size varies between 6 and 8.5 mm. This pearl is difficult to grow and has more shine than those grown in fresh water . Its color ranges from cream to pink .
They are grown in rivers and lake farms in China . They measure between 3.5 and 7 mm. They have an asymmetrical shape and shine that goes from medium to high. Pearls grown in this type of water are mostly white, but can be pink.
They are pearls grown in fresh water, mainly in the lakes and rivers of China , although their production is also carried out – in a more restricted way – in Japan and the United States . It is organic, that is, it comes from a living being . Its cultivation time ranges from 6 months to 4 years and is carried out within pearl mussels of the Unionoida family . The main characteristic of these pearls is their abundance, since up to 1,800 metric tons are produced annually, using a culture production system quite different from that of marine cultured pearls: pearls are produced mainly within the mussel mantle. .
Most do not receive a mother-of-pearl core -as is the case of cultured pearls of marine origin- but recently a great variety of materials have been detected for the production of these pearls, such as: waste pearls, mother- of- pearl cores , buttons of mother-of-pearl or nuclei of the giant clam Tridacna gigas , a protected organism on the CITES list .
Shapes they adopt
- Round: they are generally the highest value. They are symmetrical and roll in a straight line.
- Baroque: they indicate an irregular shape in the pearls. They are generally the least valuable, although there may be specimens that are worth more than round ones.
- Half-round: they are pearls that have rounded shapes, but which do not become entirely spherical.
- Ringed or fluted: they have regular lines or concave rings perpendicular to an axis of revolution greater than a third of the pearl’s surface.
- Semibarrocas: they have an axis of symmetry, so the shapes are oval, drops, button, spinning top, etc.
Freshwater pearls are routinely processed; polishing, bleaching and artificial dyeing are essential for this type of cultured pearl.
They are hemispherical cultured pearls. They grow attached to the inside of an oyster shell rather than inside the shell . They are mainly cultivated in Japan , Indonesia and Australia . It is an organic gem. The cultivation time of these pearls ranges from half a year to two years. They are relatively easy to obtain, which makes them less valuable than round pearls. These pearls are semi-round, since one side of the pearl is round, while the other is flat. This morphology allows them to be used in jewelry and thus be able to hide the flat side.