The Lure of Pearls
Pearls have captured the imagination of human beings for millennia. The mystique and exquisiteness of pearls makes them highly coveted and timeless. Our fascination with their lustrous beauty makes them irresistible and highly priced. There is hardly a woman of substance who doesn’t own at least one item of pearl jewelry.
Different cultures have different stories of their origin. Greeks believed that pearls were tears of Aphrodite. Egyptians attributed them to the Goddess Isis. Whatever the legend, we know that they are formed by the humble molluscs. Most pearls come mainly from oysters. The real natural pearl is rare to find and extremely expensive.
What is the difference between natural pearls and cultured pearls?
Natural pearls are formed in the wild, naturally, on their own while the cultured pearls are farmed by implanting a graft from another shell or a tiny bead into the oyster. The process of the pearl forming for both the natural and the cultured pearls is the same. The pearl begins as a speck of irritant that sticks to the mantle of the oyster’s shell. As a way to protect itself, the oyster covers the irritant with a layer of nacre, a substance of which the oyster’s shell is made. Over years, layers of nacre are deposited over the irritant and a pearl is formed. It is the core that determines whether the pearl is a natural or a cultured pearl.
How to differentiate between a genuine pearl and a fake pearl.
Good quality pearls are not inexpensive and you need to know how to spot whether the pearls you are buying are real or imitation. Here are some ways you can differentiate between the two:
- Imperfections: All real pearls have minor imperfections. If they are perfect, beware!
- Uniformity: The size and shape of real pearls will be irregular. If they're not, beware!
- Ridges: Look at the drill hole through a magnifying glass, if it has ridges it is real. If it doesn’t, beware!
- Luster: Real pearls are luminous and lustrous, they display a depth of shine. If they seem dull, beware!
- Weight: Real pearls are heavier than artificial ones. If they do not seem heavy enough, beware!
- Chips: Look at any chips or nicks in your pearl, if you see a plastic bead at the drill hole, beware!
- Temperature: Real pearls will always be cold to touch before they start warming up to your body temperature. If they feel the same as the room temperature, beware!
- Surface: Rub the pearl against your teeth lightly if they feel rough they are real. If not, then beware!
Remember, real pearls, whether cultured or natural, command a generous pricetag. If you are being offered a bargain, think twice before buying, for you may be buying imitation pearls and paying a lot more for them than you should.