Origin of the pearls of our jewels
The value of pearls does not depend exclusively on their qualities, their shapes or their colors, but on the combination of these 3 main criteria.
The pearl is harmoniously highlighted by jewelry designers, like Gautrey Paris (fr), who know how to take advantage of these three characteristics.
Natural pearls are so rare to find in nature that most pearls sold today are grown.
View of different pearly colors that can be taken by cultured pearls
Freshwater pearls : the quality and the widest choice
These pearls are produced by Hyriopsis Cumingi oyster that lives in freshwater in several parts of China, mainly within a radius of 300 km around Shanghai, but not only.
The sowing of the oyster is done mainly by the introduction of small pieces of shells and not systematically by nucleation like the other pearl oysters of Tahiti, Akoya or Australia: it is thus naturally covered with layers of mother-of-pearl more numerous as the nucleated pearls. Production can reach up to 50 pearls in one oyster.
Since the 1970s, Chinese pearl farmers have constantly improved the quality of these pearls to obtain today pearls of great beauty, perfect luster, and a diameter of 2 to 10 mm, offering thick pearls with reflections deep.
Freshwater pearls can offer many variations of colors and shapes, thanks to the hue techniques. The spectrum of colors has expanded: black, lavender, rose, champagne, peach, cream ... all colors on which Jewelers imagine new collections.
Akoya pearls : queen of white pearls
Traditionally, the Japanese oyster is a small oyster that produces only one to two pearls: Pinctada's Fucata and Pinctada's Martensi (oysters of cold seawater). Depending on the size of the oyster, the pearls can reach a size of 3 to 10mm. The selection of these pearls is ruthless as to their shape (very round) and their color.
The nucleation technique is traditional: implantation of a nucleon (small ball) in the mantle of the oyster by surgical means, and which, over time, will eventually coat this little pearl with several layers of mother-of-pearl until cover it completely.
Renowned for their luster and intense white color, Akoya pearls are particularly valued by the Japanese pearling industry worldwide. Their brilliance and luster are obtained by post-production whitening treatments which also allows cream and rosé reflections.
These pearls were the first nucleon beads. This technique, exemplified by Kokichi Mikimoto, the historical inventor of pearl culture, has spread in many countries since 1905.
Tahitian cultured pearls : the ultimate black pearl
The pearls of Tahiti (fr) come from the oyster Pinctada Margaritifera, which lives in French Polynesia and in the South Pacific. These large oysters produce nucleated pearls 8 mm and 20 mm in diameter with most of the production varying between 10 mm and 12 mm.
The pearl of Tahiti is a pearl of culture of natural color coming from the graft of the pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera, variety cumingii and of a rigorous breeding very selective in natural environment: the conditions of exploitation of these oysters are subjected to long-term environmental standards, for which all the criteria of eco-responsibility are controlled. She has been raised exclusively in French Polynesia for more than 80 years. The technique of nucleation has been taken up in other parts of the world, but this pearl remains unique by its colors and its orients.
The colors of these black pearls are extraordinary: they vary from anthracite gray, through silver, pistachio green, Peacock and shiny black with touches of green, pink or blue. To perceive all the shades of color and orient, it is imperative to see them next to each other, in bulk.
Pearls of the south seas champagne color
These cultured pearls are produced by Labie's oyster from Pinctada and are grown in Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The diameter of the beads is impressive: from 8mm to 22mm. However, the bulk of pearl production is between 10mm and 14mm. The size of pearls tends to decrease over the years as a percentage of actual production.
The colors of cultured pearls range from silver to creamy white with pinkish-orange and champagne hues. The pearl luster is generally soft and satin, but shallow. Their colors are natural.
Other natural pearls known but less used in jewelry
Mabé (pearls of Mabe) : the half-pearls
The shape of the Mabe pearls is hemispherical (half-round), as the mabe grow against the shell of the oyster. Production is almost worldwide and mabe are considered as by-products. The hue varies from pink-white to blue-green. The mabés are used as very beautiful fashion accessories like keshis.
Keshi : a little pearl with many shapes
It is a non-nucleated, uncontrolled pearl, considered an original by-product of pearl farming. Very beautiful Keshis form beautiful jewels, ethnic style for example.
Biwa (Pearls of Biwa) : pearls from mussels and not oysters
It is a pearl of fresh water that is born not in an oyster, but in a mold. It originates from Dulac Biwa, in the Kobe region of Japan. By extension, the term "Pearl of Biwa" is now used for all pearls grown in a Japanese freshwater mussel.
Abalone (abalone pearls) : the pearl abandoned by pearl lovers
Abalone pearls do not have much value: their shape is often anthropic and it is rare that we make jewelry.
Conch (conch pearls) : a beautiful luminescent shell
The conch is a mollusk of seawater from tropical waters. She has no great value.
Here are some examples of jewelry with pearls or mother-of-pearl made in the jewelry workshop Vivalatina :
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