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Sunday, August 16, 2009


Pearl is one that forms without any human intervention at all, in the wild, and is very rare. Many hundreds of pearl oysters or pearl mussels have to be gathered and opened, and thus killed, in order to find even one wild pearl, and for many centuries that was the only way pearls were obtained. This was the main reason why pearls fetched such extraordinary prices in the past.
The difference between natural and cultured pearls focuses on whether the pearl was created spontaneously by nature — without human intervention — or with human aid. Pearls are formed inside the shell of certain mollusks: as a defense mechanism to a potentially threatening irritant such as a parasite inside its shell, the mollusk creates a pearl to seal off the irritation.
Single natural pearls are often sold as a collector's item, or set as centerpieces in unique jewelry. Very few matched strands of natural pearls exist, and those that do often sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. (In 1917, jeweler Pierre Cartier purchased the Fifth Avenue mansion that is now the New York Cartier store for US$100 cash and a double strand of matched natural pearls valued at the time at US$1 million
In the past couple of decades, cultured pearls have been produced using larger oysters in the south Pacific and Indian Ocean. The largest pearl oyster is the Pinctada maxima, which is roughly the size of a dinner plate. South Sea pearls are characterized by their large size and warm luster. Sizes up to 14 mm in diameter are not uncommon. South Sea pearls are primarily produced in Australia, Indonesia and the Philippine
The value of the pearls in jewelry is determined by a combination of the luster, color, size, lack of surface flaw and symmetry that are appropriate for the type of pearl under consideration.