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The Jewelry Hut Pearl Education Center.

The Jewelry Hut Designer Cultured Pearls Jewelry Store

The birth of a pearl is a miraculous event. Unlike gemstones or precious metals that must be mined from the earth, pearls are grown by live oysters far below the surface of the sea.  Gemstones must be cut and polished to bring out their beauty. But pearls need no such treatments to reveal their loveliness.  They are born from their mother oysters with a shimmering iridescence, lustre and soft inner glow that is unlike any other gem on earth.
A natural pearl begins life as a foreign object, such as a parasite or piece of sand, that by accident lodges itself in the oyster’s soft inner body where it can not be expelled.
In an effort to ease this irritant, the oyster’s body takes defensive action.  The oyster begins to secrete a smooth, hard crystalline substance around the irritant in order to protect itself.  This substance is called “Nacre”.
As long as the irritant remains within its body, the oyster will continue to secrete Nacre around the irritant, layer upon layer. After a few years, the irritant will be totally encased by the silky crystalline coatings. The result is a lovely and lustrous gem called a Pearl.
But how precious pearls are formed from what an oyster regards as merely protection against irritation is one of nature’s most prized secrets. For the Nacre is not just a soothing substance.  It is composed of microscopic crystals, each crystal aligned perfectly with each other so that light passing along the axis of one is reflected and refracted by the other to produce rainbow of light and color. Cultured pearls are formed by oysters in almost an identical fashion.  The only difference is that man surgically implants the irritant, a small piece of polished shell, in the oyster rather than leaving it to chance, then steps aside to let nature and the oyster create their miracle.

Cultured pearls can never be a mass produced factory product.  Too much depends upon the whims of unpredictable mother nature. Each year, millions of oysters are nucleated.  But only a very small proportions live to bear fine quality cultured pearls.
On the average, only 50% of the nucleated oysters do not survive to bear pearls. Only 20% bear marketable pearls. The rest are imperfect, flawed to be used as jewels.
A perfect peal is a rare event, blessed by nature and highly valued. Less 5% of nucleated oysters yield pearls of such perfect shape, lustre, and color as to be considered fine gems quality.  They are precious treasures of pearl cultivation and the rare prizes of any jewelry collection.

No two pearls are ever exactly alike.  Each has its own unique combination of size, shape, luster, and color.  The art of assembling pearls in a necklace, a pair of earrings, or other jewelry calls for refined skills in blending similar looking pearls together so they look like they match.  Pearls are sorted by experts with highly trained eyes and years of experience.

Drill holes must be made with care and precision.  An inexperienced operator can split or ruin pearls with careless handling.  A hole drilled even slightly off center can ruin a necklace or piece of jewelry that depends upon the symmetrical assembly of its pearls.

Stringing and Blending
Because no two cultured pearls are ever alike, pearl dealers must cull through about ten thousand pearls to find enough that are so closely matched that they can be assembled together to make a single necklace.


The Variety of Cultured Pearls

1)   Akoya Pearls - Cultivated in Japan and China
Akoya pearls are the classic cultured pearls that come to mind when the word “pearl” is mentioned.  Ranging in sizes from 3 mm to 10 mm. Akoya cultured pearls come in a wide range of colors and shapes.  Akoya pearls are renowned for their intense and brilliant lustre.




2)   White South Sea Pearls - Cultivated in Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, and Philippine
South Sea pearls are considered one of the more exclusive of all cultured pearl varieties. They are known for their extraordinary size and satiny lustre. Ranging in color from silver-white to gold and in size from 8 mm to 18 mm and larger. South Sea Pearls because of their rarity, command premium prices.




3)   Tahitian Pearls - Cultivated French Polynesia
The exotic natural color palette of Tahitian Pearls make them one the most unique of all cultured pearl varieties.  Ranging in color from light gray midnight black, with pistachio, aubergine, and blue in between. they range in size from 8 mm to 17 mm.




4)   Fresh Water Pearls - Cultivated China, Japan, and United
Fresh Water pearls are easily cultivated from fresh water mussels rather than saltwater oysters. They are produced in great abundance, and are therefore generally the most moderately priced of all cultured pearls varieties. Their unique shapes and gentle pastel colors make them perfect gems for those on a budget.



5)   Mabe Pearls - Cultivated Australia, French Polynesia, Indonesia,
       Japan, and Philippines
Mabe pearls are hemispherical cultured pearls grown against the inside shell of an oyster rather than within the oyster’s body.  They are generally used in ring, earring, and pendant settings which cover the flat backs or reverse side.



6)   Keshii Pearls - Cultivated Australia, French Polynesia, Indonesia, Japan, and Philippines
Keshii Pearls, though not nucleated cultured pearls, are created by accident as a result of the culturing process and thus must be considered cultured pearls. Their unusual shapes and sizes are best used in unique jewelry.






Guides to purchase pearl

Selecting a strand of cultured pearl, it is best to purchase from a knowledgeable jeweler who can describe to you how to choose the right pearl for the best quality and price range.
Any piece of cultured pearl jewelry can be evaluated on the following quality factors. Make a note, when selecting pearls jewelry, that the better the quality of pearls, the more beautiful and valued they will be over time.

A) Lustre

Lustre is a combination of surface brilliance and a deep seated glow.  The lustre of a good quality pearl should be bright not dull.  You should be able to see your own reflection clearly on the surface of a pearl.  Any pearl that appears too white , dull or chalky indicates low quality.

B) Surface

Cleanliness refers to the absence of disfiguring spots, bumps, or cracks on the surface of the pearl.  The cleaner the surface of the pearl, the more valuable.

C) Shape

Since cultured pearls are grown by oysters in nature, it is very rare to find a perfectly round pearl. However, the more round the pearl is, the more valuable it becomes.

D) Color

Cultured pearls come in variety of colors from rose to black.  While the color of a pearl is really a matter of the wearer’s preference, usually rose or silver/white pearls tend to look the best on fair skins while cream and gold toned pearls are flatering to darker complexions.

E) Size

Cultured pearls are measured by their diameter in millimeters (mm).  They can be smaller than one millimeter in the case of tiny seed pearls, or as large as 20 mm for a big South Sea pearl. The larger the pearl, other factors being equal, the more valuable it will be.  The average sized pearl sold today is between 7 and 7 1/2 millimeters

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