2/20/2018

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Cultured Pearls

Question: What are cultured pearls?

Answer: Cultured pearls are made from the secretion of calcium carbonate, called mother of pearl, and conchiolin, an organic substance that binds the mother of pearl (nacre) around an irritant such as a grain of sand inside the soft tissue of mollusks.

Cultured pearls are those that are manipulated when mollusks are injected with foreign objects by human beings thus provoking the mollusks biological system to react and form the pearl.

A layering of mother of pearl (nacre) in oysters, mussels and other mollusks, forms a hard, spherical or semispherical, smooth, silky object, which is called a pearl.

  • Most cultured pearls in the United States are strung together to make beautiful necklaces and bracelets.
  • Gold and silver can also be adorned with cultured pearls along with diamonds and other gemstones to make exquisite brooches, rings, earrings, and other fine pieces of jewelry.
  • Most cultured pearls are pure or off white but may be found in other colors.

Question: What are the differences between cultivated pearls and natural pearls?

Answer: Many believe that there are no real discernable differences between natural and cultured pearls but to the expert, the natural pearl usually has a smaller nucleus with deeper layers of mother of pearl while the cultured pearl has a larger nucleus and thinner layers of mother pearl.

Question: How are pearls valued?

Answer: Usually, natural pearls are weighed in grains or carats and prices are set according to the weight. Cultured pearls are usually priced by their size, condition, color, and shape.

Question: What countries produce the most cultured pearls?

Answer: Japan has large pearl farming communities, both fresh water and salt water, and is a major producer of cultured pearls. Other countries, most notably China, Indonesia, and Malaysia, Australia, and Myanmar, also have large cultured pearl farms.

Pearl farms provide employment and income for many people around the world. Many skilled people are required to produce cultured pearls such as divers, pilots for boats and larger ships, cage builders, sorters, drillers, bead setters, and other technicians.

Pearls have been bought and sold for centuries and as an industry, the pearl trade continues to grow and flourish.

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