Pearls are a common motif in jewelry because of its majestic and timeless look. Its beauty is attributed to how they are the only gemstones to be created by a living organism.
Pearls are created by shellfish called mollusks. Mollusks that are able to produce a shell, are also able to produce pearls. However, naturally forming pearls are very rare and reported to be found in one of every 10,000 mollusks.
1. Natural Pearls
Natural pearls were historically found in the Persian Gulf. Unfortunately, supply for natural pearls has dwindled as most have already been harvested. This makes natural pearl extremely rare and resulted in a rise in cultured pearls which are grown in farms.
Cultured pearls are created by inserting a nucleus into a grown mollusk. The mollusk produces layer of nacre around the irritant in the shell. In the case of cultured pearls, the irritant is a piece of tissue or the mother or pearl bead. In natural pearls, the irritant may be another organism in the water.
It’s difficult to tell the difference between natural and cultured pearls. However, simulated pearls can be differentiated because it lacks the lustre and colour depth of natural and cultured pearls. Coating techniques and treatments can help simulated pearls improve its colour and shine.
Simulated pearls, when created with quality materials, can mirror real pearls at an affordable price.
Cotton pearls are made out of compressed cotton dipped in pearl coating. Due to the nature of cotton pearls, they are significantly lighter than other simulated pearls, which allows them to be used in intricate and complex designs.
Glass pearls are made out of hollow glass beads filled with wax and dipped in pearlescent material.
Copper pearls are made out of copper alloy and dipped several times in a pearl film coating to closely mimic the lustre and allure of natural pearls.
Fish Scale Pearls
A Parisian jewelry realized when certain fish scales are in the water, it glistens similar to pearls. Fish scale pearls are made by inserting wax into a glass bead and coating it with fish scale iridescence and varnish.