Freshwater Pearl Pendant
Tahitian Baroque Pearl Pendant
South Sea Pearl Pendant
Pearls are formed by the secretion of nacre that mollusks use to coat any irritants that work their way into the mollusk’s shell. For natural pearls the irritant enter the shell naturally as microscopic particles and grains of sand. For cultured pearls the irritant is implanted and can be a bead or piece of tissue. The coating builds up over time to form a pearl and also coats the inside of the shell creating “mother of pearl”.
Saltwater pearls are most commonly found in whites, silver, pink and creamy tones and more rarely in blue, black, and gold. Freshwater pearls can also be found in whites and pinks, as well as blue, peach, and lavender.
The pearl was believed to be a symbol of the moon and its magical powers. Later it became a symbol of perfection – “the one perfect pearl”. This influence continues today. Perfectly round pearls command a higher valuation due to their extreme rarity in natural pearls.
Mikimoto pioneered the implantation of Mississippi River mussel shell beads in Japanese salt water Akoya pearl shells, creating the original cultured pearl.
South Sea pearls are grown in a much larger shell and so produce a much larger pearl. Broom in Northern Australia is a huge producer of these pearls. The Philippines is also very active – this is where most golden pearls are grown. Tahiti and it’s surrounding atolls are famously the source of Tahitian Black Pearls
Freshwater mussels from the rivers of Europe and America have long been a source of natural freshwater pearls before culturing began in Japan’s Lake Biwa, now too polluted to support production.
Freshwater pearls are now cultured in huge lakes in China. Some rival the quality of Akoya and South Sea pearls but mainly they are valued for their own amazingly varied characteristic shapes, intense colors and deep lusters.