Pearls have been loved for all time and were worn by the ancient Greeks, ancient Egyptians and Romans.
Colour - traditionally white, but now in a range of colours, the most coveted being the black pearl
Pearls can be admired simply for their beauty but for those of you who believe in their spiritual properties, pearls symbolise purity and are said to have calming influence.
Natural pearls, which start to form as a defence against a natural irritant, such as a piece of grit, entering a mollusc, are rare and command extremely high prices. The majority of pearls are cultured, nucleated by the insertion of a small bead or mantle tissue inserted into the mollusc but thereafter the formation of the cultured pearl is a perfectly natural process. Saltwater cultured pearls are generally more expensive than freshwater pearls, primarily because salt water oysters only produce one pearl at a time whilst freshwater mussels can produce multiple pearls and take less time to culture.
Pearls are found in a vast array of naturally occurring colours, although many pearls will have been bleached, dyed or enhanced. A natural colour often reflects the lip colour of the type of mollusc.
Pearls also occur in a wide range of shapes including round, off round, oval, baroque, ringed and drop. The shape largely depends on the irritant used but is also influenced by natural processes inside the mollusc as the pearl grows, or a change on water temperature.
The value of a pearl is based on its size, the thickness of its nacre (in the case of saltwater pearls), shape, colour, the quality of the surface of the pear and lustre and with a strand of pearls the actual colour matching. The most expensive pearls (other than natural pearls) are perfectly round and a natural colour, with most expensive being golden South Sea pearls.
Saltwater Pearls. The majority of cultured South Sea pearls are located on the Australian coast although the majority of the golden variety are sourced in the Philippines and Indonesia. The majority of Tahitian pearls are cultured around the islands of French Polynesia. Akoya pearls are generally found in Japan and C
Freshwater Pearls. The majority of freshwater pearls are cultivated in the lakes and rivers in China and Japan and to a lesser extent USA.
Natural Pearls. Although rare to find, natural pearls can be found all over the world.