Pearls are considered as organic gems, as they are created by living creatures. It is characterized as a hard object that is produced inside the soft tissue of a mollusk shell. It is composed of calcium carbonate in very little crystalline form which is called nacre. This material is deposited in concentric layers, and has the same material as the shell of the mollusk.
The natural process starts when a mollusk encounters an irritating microscopic object trapped within its folds. Then it will start coating the object with nacre to produce pearl. Ideally, a pearl should be round and smooth, but there are also irregularly shaped ones, which are called "baroque pearls".
Do you know how to distinguish a freshwater from a saltwater pearl? They may look somewhat similar, but they come from different sources. Saltwater pearls are formed inside pearl oysters, which lives in tropical oceans. These are called Akoya, Tahitian, or South Sea pearls. On the other hand, freshwater pearls are formed inside mussels living in rivers, lakes or ponds.
Jewelers can tell if the pearl is natural or cultivated by running an x-ray in the gem lab. If the pearl reveals a nucleus in the x-ray, it is a natural saltwater pearl. If there is no nucleus present, but instead there are irregular and dark inner spots that indicate a visible cavity, then the pearl is cultured in freshwater. Natural pearls are usually sold using carat weight, while cultured pearls are sold in millimeters depending on their size.
The value of the pearl depends upon its luster, size, color, lack of flaw and good symmetry. Among these, luster is the most important one. Luster depends upon the refraction and reflection of light from its translucent layers. This can be unique in each pearl where the more layers of the iridescent nacre there are, the finer the luster.
Definitely, the bigger the pearl the more expensive it is. Also, if the shape is perfectly round, it is very rare and valued. In terms of color, the black pearl is more expensive than their white counterpart.
Pearls are made into necklaces, bracelets, earrings, pendants and even rings. It is a gemstone that is truly beautiful and splendid. If you bought some freshwater cultured pearls lately, it is important to know how you should clean and care for it. These are some tips for you to follow:
1. Put your pearls on after applying your make-up, perfume and lotion.
2. Wipe it with a soft cloth (lint-free) as you take them off. This cloth may be dry or damp. If damp, the pearls should be air dried before storing it.
3. If it gets dirty, clean your pearls with mild soap and water. Never clean it with solutions that contain harsh ingredients.
4. Do not use abrasive cleaners or rough cloth. Both can wear away the nacre coating fast.
5. Do not store pearls beside other jewelries, as they can be scratched easily. Keep it in a special corner of your jewelry box or place them in a soft little bag individually.