Pearl

Pearl

Pearl is the Primary birthstone for June and a Secondary birthstone for February and the Zodiac sign Cancer.

The pearl has been coveted by many cultures for thousands of years, and is still admired and highly valued throughout the world.

Its soft elegant feminine characteristics were bound to ensure a highly valued place in many cultures. No doubt this contributed to it being called the Queen of Gems.

Pearl Benefits

Mental Health

Pearls aid in obtaining restful sleep, thus reducing tension and depression. They further help with increasing memory, clarity of thought and the ability to problem solve.

Those who have trouble with controlling their temper should wear pearl close to their skin.

Physical Health

Pearl is believed to be beneficial in many ways.

Wearing pearls can assist with problems like eye and throat issues, as well as bowel problems.

For ladies it increases facial lustre and enhances their beauty.

Other Life Benefits

People who wear or have pearls active in their lives are thought to attract greater respect and fame, and along the way amassing greater wealth.

The pearls ability to neutralise negative influences greatly aids in a more positive outcome in activities and life’s direction.

A natural consequence of all this is an increased harmony in personal relationships, especially maternal.

Buying Guide

The most valuable and finest quality pearls are natural pearls, formed in the wild without intervention by us. They are extremely rare, and consequently very expensive.

Cultured or farmed pearls make up the majority of pearls sold today. After that comes the simulated pearls made primarily for use in cheaper jewellery.

When selecting pearls the natural and cultivated pearls will have an iridescent mother-of-pearl appearance, that simulated pearls often lack.

Colour, Lustre and Flaws

The beautiful lustre of a pearl is caused by the diffraction, reflection and refraction of light. Many thin layers of nacre will produce a finer lustre.

The iridescence observed is caused by the overlapping layers of nacre breaking up the light.

The most desired pearls have a flawless metallic mirror-like lustre.

Regards colour, white and black are the most popular, but pearls can be found in a number of beautiful colours. The problem with coloured pearls is that they are rare. Collecting enough of the same colour to make into a necklace is extremely difficult.

Shape and Symmetry

The ideal shape for a pearl is a perfectly symmetrical sphere, a very rare thing in natural pearls. Look for the a pearl as close to this ideal as possible.

Size

With pearls, it’s quite simple. All other factors being the same, the larger a pearl the more expensive it is.

Cultivated Pearls

Cultivated pearls are made by artificially introducing an irritant within the mollusc, forcing it to start covering it with nacre. The irritant, called a graft, is usually a small piece of mantle tissue or bead.

After about twelve to eighteen months, the mollusc has covered the graft with a few layers of nacre and the pearl can be harvested.

A cultivated pearl can be distinguished from a natural pearl by x-ray. The growth rings of a natural pearl are clearly visible.

Natural and cultivated pearls can sometimes be distinguished from simulated pearls with a rub test. Simulated pearls are usually very smooth, while natural and cultivated pearls have a slight gritty texture.

Simulated Pearls

Simulated earls are common. Made from plastic, glass, bone etc., with some being coated in materials made from things such as mother-of-pearl or even fish scales.

History of Pearl

The name Pearl comes from the French word perle.

Pearls have been known for thousands of years, in many cultures. The history of pearls is complex, with each culture having different stories and beliefs.

In many cultures they have long been associated with the Moon and Earths waters, their place of birth. Given the strong visual connection between the Moon and the luminous pearl, this is hardly surprising.

The earliest possible mention of pearls was by a Chinese historian around the year 2,206 BC.

In ancient Vedic writings pearls are born from the Earths waters and the powers of heaven, after being fertilised by a lightning strike. The pearl is believed to be the daughter of the Moon.

For thousands of years pearls were hunted in the Indian ocean. The divers hunted in places like the Gulf on Manmar, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.

The thriving pearl industry in the port of Oruwella, which is in the Gulf on Manmar in Sri Lanka, was mentioned in the ancient chronicle Mahavamsa. The Mahavamsa is an epic poem written in the 5th century BC.

During the Han Dynasty, which spanned 206 BC – 220 AD, the Chinese hunted the South China Sea for pearls.

Pearls were even a factor in attracting Julius Caesar to Britain, where freshwater pearls were harvested from river mussels. This practice was only recently stopped, in 1998, to protect the endangered river mussell.

Regards their origins, the Greeks believed they were the hardened tears from the goddess of love. They fell to the ocean as she was born.

There is even one story of pearls being the tears of Eve as she was banished from Eden.

The Chinese connect pearls and dragons. One myth talks of pearls as falling from the sky as dragons fought.

In summary, pearls have long held an important place in human history.

Pearl Gemology

Pearls are a mixture of mineral and organic material. They are formed within the soft tissues of shelled molluscs. They are primarily calcium carbonate that has been deposited in concentric layers over a microscopic irritant that became trapped within the shell.

Pearls can form in almost all shelled molluscs, the finest in shape and appearance are generally formed in bivalves and clams.

While pearls are undoubtedly gems, they are not really gemstones.

Colour

White pearls are undoubtedly the most common, but they do come in a wide range of shades and other colours. While this adds variety, as far as the jewellery trade is concerned this wide variance in colour is a problem when trying to match pearls for a strand.

South Sea pearls come in varying shades of the colours white, silver, pink, gold and cream. They can also contain overtones of all the colors of the rainbow.

Black pearls are found in a specific type of oyster found primarily in Tahiti. Though called black, they are rarely black and more often darker shades of aubergine, blue, green, gray, peacock or silver. Peacock is a mix of colours, much like a peacocks feather.

Treatments

Just like a lot of gemstones, pearls can be treated to improve their appearance.

They are often bleached to reduce dark spots and dyed to produce desirable colours, such as golden, pink, chocolate colours and silvery-black.

Where Found

The most significant pearling localities are Australia, Bahrain and French Polynesia.

Australia has the last remaining fleet of pearl diving ships. A significant number of natural pearls are still found in the south sea waters. The pearl oysters are also harvested there to be used in cultured south sea pearl production.

Physical Properties

PropertyValuePropertyValue
Category: Lustre:
Colour:White, pink, silver-, cream-, golden-coloured, green, blue, black.
Specific Gravity:2.60 – 2.85
Transparency:Translucent to opaque Refractive Index:1.52 – 1.66
Crystal System: Pleochroism:
Crystal Habit:
Melting Point:
Cleavage:None
Fracture:Uneven
Mohs Scale:2.5 – 4.5

CREDITS: Pearls – MASAYUKI KATO [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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