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Types of Pearls

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In the small town of Manacor, on the island of Majorca, Spain, each organic man-made pearl is carefully crafted with a skill that has become a rare art. Throughout the entire delicate process, meticulous attention is given to every detail to assure superior standards of quality and beauty. First, the nucleus is introduced, which has the same appearance and weight as those in the finest cultured pearls. Then, mimicking the oyster's own process, the nucleus is exposed to a layering process using a component derived from marine and natural materials from the Mediterranean Sea. The natural appearance of luster and iridescence created by this process is secured by a special final layer that assures durability and resistance against harmful agents.



The existence of natural pearls is a fortuitous accident of nature. They were initially found as early as 250 B.C. in the Persian Gulf and subsequently in the 18th and 19th centuries in the South Pacific. The Europeans' exploration of the Pacific region yielded some of the world's most prized pearls. Natural pearls today are extremely rare and expensive.



These larger, more exotic pearls are cultivated from the Pinctada Margaritifera or black-lipped pearls oyster in the seas of French Polynesia. They exhibit sublime color with subtle hints of blue, green, and vivid shapes of natural black, copper and aubergine. South Sea pearls are cultivated in the South Pacific (Australia, Philippines, and Indonesia) and vary in color such as white, cream, silver and gold. Their size and expense in cultivation enables them to command very high prices.


These saltwater pearls were introduced at the beginning of the twentieth century. In culturing, man inserts the initial irritant in the live mollusk and nature completes the process. During the culturing process, man intervenes to check and care for the mollusk. Varying factors, such as time in the mollusk, microclimates in the water, temperature, and varying nutrient conditions can all be factors of the consistency and quality of the cultured pearls. The natural or dyed Akoya colors range from white to rose blush, pale gold, cream or black. These pearls typically range in size from 2mm to 10mm.


These pearls come from the freshwater mussel and are cultured in a process similar to the saltwater pearl. However, in this process, no shell bead is implanted. Instead, a piece of tissue enables the freshwater mussel to produce nacre, thus coating the implant and creating the freshwater cultured pearl. These are typically off round and odd-shaped. Many are baroque, which have their own distinct look.


These products are simply simulating color. It is usually enamel or lacquer that is applied to a plastic or glass bead. There is seldom any resemblance of luster or iridescence to the natural or high-quality cultured pearls. These are typically inferior in appearance and quality.