June Birthstone: Pearl
Read ahead if you’re curious to know a little more about the history of pearls, where they come from, and much more.
At Minar, we could spend hours talking about these beautiful gemstones, but in this article, we will focus on one of the most timeless stones ever: the pearl. Fashion experts call it a jewellery essential, and we couldn’t agree more.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NATURAL AND CULTURED PEARLS
Natural pearls are produced within the mantle of a living saltwater and freshwater shelled mollusk or other animals, such as fossil conulariids. That’s why they don’t require any mining, cutting, or polishing!
Today, cultured pearls account for the vast majority of pearl sales, as years and years of pearl fishing have decimated the natural pearl beds.
Photo by Anastasiia Rozumna on Unsplash
Cultured pearls - a product of human intervention - are raised in pearl farms, where the mollusks are cleaned, protected from predators, and harvested.
In a nutshell, they are produced by implanting a piece of mantle tissue alone (common for freshwater cultured pearls) or with a mother-of-pearl shell bead (all saltwater) into a host mollusk.
There are myriads of legends behind the origins of pearls, and most of them are quite fascinating. Just to name a few, ancients from the Middle East believed pearls to be teardrops fallen from heaven, the Chinese thought that they came from the brain of a dragon, whilst Columbus thought that mollusks formed pearls from dew drops.
With their allure and unique appearance, pearls are often associated with purity, humility, and innocence.
Not only! Did you know that pearls are thought to have beneficial properties too? In the Atharvaveda - an ancient Sanskrit text - pearls were said to bestow long life and prosperity. They’re also believed to help alleviate indigestion, hemorrhages, improve eyesight, and ease nervous tremors and depression.
WHERE DO WE FIND PEARLS?
Natural pearls have long been found in the Arabian Gulf for at least 5,000 years and in the Red Sea since 300 BCE.
The Strait of Mannar has been providing pearls since 2000 BCE and starting in the 16th century, large quantities of pearls were recovered from Mexico, Central America, and Venezuela.
Sadly, only small quantities of pearls are found in any of these areas today.
But what about cultured pearls? Pearl farms are usually located far from civilization as mollusks fail to thrive in polluted waters.
China is the dominant source of freshwater cultured pearls, whilst, saltwater cultured pearls are mainly found in China and Japan, around the Akoya farms.
South Sea cultured pearls are farmed from the northern coast of Australia through Indonesia to the southern coast of Southeast Asia.
The beautiful black Tahitian pearls can be found in the Gambier Islands and the Tuamotu Archipelago, both located in French Polynesia.
CARE AND CLEANING
Photo by Tiffany Anthony on Unsplash
If you have ever had any doubts about how to take care of your pearls, here are a few great tips:
- Store them separately from other jewellery to prevent scratching
- Don’t store your pearls in a plastic bag - plastic can emit a chemical that will damage their surface
- Apply perfume, hair products, and cosmetics before putting on your pearl jewellery
- Hot water, steam cleaning, and ultrasonic jewellery cleaners should all be avoided
- Always clean your pearls after you wear them, ideally using a soft, damp cloth
HOW DO YOU SHOP PEARLS?
Not sure how to choose your pearls? We’ve got you covered!
- Pearls that look too dull or chalky are a sure sign of poor quality
- When it comes to cultured pearls, it’s rare to find a pearl whose surface is completely free of blemishes. The less bumps, cracks and indentations, the more valuable it will be
- A perfectly round pearl is rare and quite valuable
If you’re planning to gift a piece of pearl jewellery to someone, then you should definitely pay a visit to Minar Jewellers! Our team of experts is always glad to show and advise you on the best jewellery on the market.
If you don’t live close by, don’t worry: browse our online store -www.minarjewellers.com- where you can find amazing collections to suit every taste.
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