The Pearl is the only gem that comes from a living creature!
Cultured pearls are a natural product, produced by a mollusk in the same way natural pearls are produced but with the help of science. As natural pearls were becoming extinct, the Chinese were perfecting techniques to raise and produce cultured pearls, also called cultivated pearls. China is now the world leader in the production of both freshwater and saltwater varieties.
As new implantation techniques were applied, near round to very round cultured pearls are becoming much more common. They occur in a wide range of natural colors, including white, gold, silver and shades of pink. The finest pearls are exceedingly beautiful, many of which are all nacre (the crystalline substance which the mollusk secretes around the foreign object that forms a pearl) exhibiting a very rich luster. Sizes ranging from 6-9 millimeters are becoming the norm, and pearls reaching 15 millimeters are now being produced.
How can I tell an imitation pearl from a genuine pearl?
Some imitation pearls can be very convincing; even being mistaken for fine cultured pearls. One easy, reliable test is the "tooth test." Run the pearl gently along the edge of your teeth. The genuine pearl will have a gritty feel like feeling the sand at the seaside, while the imitation will be slippery smooth.
What's the difference between natural and cultured pearls?
Natural pearls are formed when irritants, such as a piece of sand, enter the mollusk by accident. Since this is a fairly rare occurrence, few all-natural jewelry quality pearls become available. Cultured pearls are formed by the use of science along with man's help inserting the item within the mollusk, which will eventually produce the pearl.
Pearls are classified according to their size, roundness, luster and number of imperfections and this will determine the value.