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Freshwater Pearls

ORIGIN

 

Primary sources of freshwater cultured pearls are China, Japan and America. Commercial production of Freshwater pearls originated in Japan but factors such as pollution and viral disease have hampered their production. At present, China is a world leader in the production of freshwater pearls.

CULTURE

 

Freshwater pearls are cultured by tissue nucleation. This means that the mussel is pried open enough for a technician to insert a small piece of tissue into the mussel, this acts as an irritant and begins the production of nacre which starts the formation of the pearl, this is why it is rare to find a round Freshwater pearl.

It also means that a Freshwater pearl is virtually all nacre which gives a Freshwater pearl outstanding lustre and makes them great value for money. Freshwater pearls are quite durable and resist chipping, wear and degeneration. Culturing takes 2-7 years, with one mussel producing around 24-32 pearls.

COLOUR SPECTRUM

 

Freshwater pearls come in an array of colours, this is a big advantage over saltwater varieties and it makes them highly versatile for jewellery. Natural colours include tones of white, pink, lavender, mauve and apricot.

Freshwater pearls are also commonly dyed or colour treated. Dyed colours include blue, black, purple, gold, coco, green and grey. It is important that you ask if the colour of your pearls are natural before you buy them.                        

SHAPE

 

It is very rare to find a round Freshwater pearl. Shapes are varied and include: near round, drop, button, baroque, keshi, coin, rice, potato and Biwa.

SIZE

 

Sizes range from tiny seed pearls of 1.0mm – 2.0mm in diameter to 15.0mm in diameter in the rarest of cases.

Rarity

Common

 

Mabe Pearls

ORIGIN

Mabe pearls are cultivated from the silver and black lipped oysters from the waters of Australia and the South Pacific. Mabe pearls are half round or dome shaped and are grown on the inside of the oyster.

CULTURE

The Mabe pearl is cultured by a half piece nucleus which is implanted against the inside of the oyster shell, rather than within its tissue. The mollusc secretes nacre over the bead commonly known at this stage as a blister pearl. The pearl is then cut from the shell, and the nucleus is filled with resin, the back of the pearl is then capped with a piece of mother-of-pearl to complete the Mabe pearl. Mabe pearls usually take around 9-12 months to culture with each oyster producing an average of 4 – 6 Mabe pearls.

COLOUR SPECTRUM

 

The silver lipped oyster produces white and cream, while the black lipped oyster produces Mabe pearls with green, peacock or black with varying overtones. The Penguin oyster produces Mabe pearls with pink, champagne and gold hues, these colours are considered to be very rare.

SHAPE

 

Mabe pearls are commonly hemispherical or dome shaped, however they also come in shapes such as tear drops and heart shapes.

SIZE

 

Mabe pearls are measured by the diameter, however the height can be incorporated dependent upon the shape. Mabe pearls range from 8.0mm – 15.0mm, average sizes produced are between 10.0mm – 13.0mm.

Rarity

 

Common

 

 

South Sea Pearls

ORIGIN

The world’s finest White South Sea pearls are cultivated in Australia. They are mainly produced in the tropical waters along the North West coast of Australia. Indonesia and the Philippines also produce the magnificent natural gold South Sea pearls. South Sea pearls are generally much larger than other pearl types and have a unique lustre quality, therefore they command the highest price of all pearls.

CULTURE

The South Sea pearl is produced by the saltwater silver lipped oyster, Pinctada maxima. This oyster is much larger than the Japanese oyster up to 30 centimetres or more in diameter which means they can produce the largest pearls in the world. It is a wild oyster species. South Sea pearls are cultivated for longer periods and as a result, have much thicker nacre coating than other pearls. Only one pearl is grown in each oyster.

COLOUR SPECTRUM

 

Australian South Sea pearls are famous the world over because of their exceptional lustre and amazing iridescent white to creamy colours. The colour of the pearl is depicted by the colour of the mother of pearl lining inside the shell of the Pinctada maxima oyster. Silver lipped generally produces pearls with white, silver, aqua and blue overtones. The rarest and most expensive colour of South Sea pearl is white with pink hue, but the silvery-white is also in high demand and very expensive.

The gold lipped varieties develop cream, champagne, vanilla and gold pearls and are generally from Indonesia and the Philippines.

 

SHAPE

 

Six basic shapes are defined at production; round – a perfectly round sphere, near round – very slightly imperfect shape, drop – teardrop, oval, egg shaped, button – dome or disc shaped, baroque – irregular or free formed in shape with no symmetry, circle – parallel bands or rings around the pearl circumference.

SIZE

 

South Sea pearls start at 8.0mm in diameter. The average size is 9.0mm – 14.0mm. South Sea pearls over 16.0mm in diameter are considered to be rare. In the rarest of cases South Sea pearls have been known to exceed 20.0mm.

Rarity

 

Rare