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Pearl Education

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  • Natural Pearls

    Natural Pearls Defined

    Natural pearls are calcium carbonate secretions which form within mollusks without human intervention.

    Natural Pearls - Accidents of Nature Natural pearls are formed randomly and really are simple accidents of nature. When a certain type of irritant, such as a parasite, becomes lodged in the tissue of a mollusk, the animal responds by secreting a calcium carbonate substance called nacre to coat the intruder and protect the mollusk...
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    Last edited by CortezPearls; 03-23-2021, 05:42 PM. Reason: Improving text & adding images

  • Saltwater Pearls

    Saltwater Pearls Defined

    A saltwater pearl is a calcium concretion (can be nacreous or non-nacreous) produced by a saltwater mollusk that lives in a saline/marine environment. These pearls can be either natural (no human intervention in its production and a product of a fishing operation) or cultured (produced with human intervention by means of pearl farming).

    Natural Saltwater Pearls Traditionally, most pearls were fished from saltwater-dwelling mollusks in the Pers...
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    Last edited by CortezPearls; 03-23-2021, 06:22 PM. Reason: Improved the article

  • Pearl Quality

    Measuring Pearl Quality

    Pearl quality and thus, the value of a pearl is measured according to a combination of several varied factors are: the type of pearl, the thickness of its nacre, its luster, the cleanliness and texture of its surface, its shape, its color, and its size. Because the pearl is a naturally occurring organic gemstone, created by living creatures, these factors can and do vary widely. Although all of them affect the ultimate value of a given pearl, some of the facto...
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    Last edited by CortezPearls; 03-24-2021, 12:20 AM.

  • Pearl Sizes

    Pearl Sizes

    Pearl Size Is Measured in Millimeters

    A pearl's size is measured according to its diameter in millimeters. Sizes range from 1 millimeter or less, in the case of very tiny pearls, to as much as 20 millimeters (more than 3/4") for large South Sea pearls.

    The Average Pearl Size Today is 7 Millimeters Most pearls sold today, however, are in the 7.0 to 7.5-millimeter range. Akoya pearls greater than 8 millimeters are considered extremely rare. (The largest pearl an akoya oy...
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    Last edited by CortezPearls; 03-15-2021, 02:58 PM.

  • Pearl Shapes

    Pearl Shapes Vary Widely

    Because pearls are natural organic gems created by a myriad of living organisms, they occur in a wide variety of shapes, many of which are quite unique and interesting. Also, cultured pearls tend to be rounder than natural pearls because (saltwater) cultured pearls usually have a bead inside that will help guide the shape.

    Some shapes are distinctively unique to certain species of mollusks, as is the case in Abalones (Haliotis spp) that commonly...
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    Last edited by CortezPearls; 03-26-2021, 04:30 PM. Reason: Edited text and added images

  • Pearl Surface

    Pearl Surface in Pearl Grading

    The surface cleanliness of a cultured or natural pearl has a direct correlation to its value. A pearl can never, according to rules set forth by the FTC, be graded as "flawless", but the degree or percentage of inclusions or surface imperfections can be measured by anyone with experience.

    What to Look for on a Pearl's Surface When grading pearls, the appearance of the surface of a pearl is one of the most important characteristics in determin...
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    Last edited by CortezPearls; 03-26-2021, 03:52 PM. Reason: Edited text and added images

  • Pearl Treatments

    Pearl Treatments Defined

    Pearl treatments are defined as any action other than polishing which alters a pearl's appearance which may include:
    • irradiation
    • bleaching
    • heating
    • filling
    • waxing
    • drilling
    • cutting
    • faceting and
    • working

    Pearl Treatments just after Harvesting After harvest, most pearls are always processed in one way or another. This processing may be subtle or less so. South Seas, Tahitians and Cortez pearls are usually just washed and will undergo minor ...
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    Last edited by CortezPearls; 03-26-2021, 12:31 AM.

  • Pearl Weight

    Cultured and Natural Pearl Weight Descriptions

    Pearl weight is expressed in carats or grains when describing natural pearls, or kilograms, kan or momme when describing cultured pearls.

    When Is Pearl Weight Used Instead of Size?

    Most of the time, pearls are described primarily in terms of their size (diameter) and expressed in millimeters, such as this pair of akoya pearl earrings. Weight is typically only described within the wholesale trade or when dealing...
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    Last edited by CortezPearls; 03-25-2021, 12:25 AM. Reason: Edited text and added images.

  • South Sea and Tahitian Pearl Grading

    Grading South Sea and Tahitian Pearls

    While there is no internationally recognized number or letter system for pearl grading, there are best-grading practices that are accepted and recognized by all professional pearl dealers within the industry. Understanding grading attributes and quality characteristics of South Sea and Tahitian pearls is imperative to properly shop and compare.

    Pearl Grades: Combining 7 Different Value Factors As pearls have many differing value facto...
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    Last edited by CortezPearls; 06-10-2021, 12:21 AM.

  • Mother-of-Pearl (MOP)

    Mother-of-Pearl Defined

    Mother-of-Pearl (MOP for short) or Nacre (as it is also known) is the iridescent coating on the inside of some mollusk species which is composed of aragonite and calcite, both being calcium carbonate polymorphs. MOP also contains water and binding proteins secreted by the mollusks, the most important being conchiolin. Mother-of-pearl is also the primary material used in pearl nucleus manufacturing. MOP beads are still the most common nucleus (core) used to pro...
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    Last edited by CortezPearls; 03-24-2021, 11:20 PM.
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Latest Articles


  • Sustainable Pearls - Links Section
    by CortezPearls
    This section will have articles to Sustainable Pearl Farming and other related news.

    "The Sustainable Corner" Series is here:

    1. Introduction
    2. Sustaining Life with Pearl Farming
    08-02-2021, 06:24 PM
  • VI. Common Mabe Pearl Varieties - Abalone Mabe
    by CortezPearls
    C. Abalone Mabe (Genus Haliotis)

    Abalone (or “Ear-shells” as they are sometimes referred) are not pearl oysters at all; they are, instead, an ancient group of marine “snails” known as Archaeogastropoda (Ancient belly-crawlers). Because they are snails, they move about their environment, living on rocks and grazing on brown seaweeds (kelp). Another interesting difference with pearl oysters is that these animals have a temperate water affinity: they prefer cold...
    07-21-2021, 12:23 AM
  • VI. Common Mabe Pearl Varieties - B. Mother-of-Pearl Oysters (genus Pinctada)
    by CortezPearls
    B. Mother-of-Pearl Oysters (genus Pinctada)

    Black Lip Pearl oysters (Pinctada margaritifera)

    Black lip pearl oysters are known mainly for their beautiful, dark, cultured pearls but they have also been used to produce Mabe pearls, although in not great numbers.

    Part of the production strategy for Mabe pearls in French Polynesia and Fiji is at the very last part of the pearl producing cycle:
    Cultured (loose) pearls are produced for up to three cycles (first,...
    07-21-2021, 12:14 AM
  • VI. Common Mabe Pearl Varieties - “Rainbow Lipped Pearl Oyster”
    by CortezPearls
    “Concha Nácar” or “Rainbow Lipped Pearl Oyster”

    This species of pearl oyster (Pteria sterna) has been used to produce both cultured loose pearls and Mabe pearls in Mexico. The first Mabe pearls were obtained back in 1994 and were the main product for the Guaymas based pearl farm until loose cultured pearls became more common (2002). Since 2010, “Cortez Mabe” have been produced in a steady number between 1 to 5-thousand pearls per year. There is an experimental Mabe pearl...
    07-21-2021, 12:06 AM
  • VI. Common Mabe Pearl Varieties - A. Winged Pearl Oysters (genus Pteria)
    by CortezPearls
    There are several varieties of commercially grown Mabe Pearls that can be found at jeweler’s displays or on online vendors, but many have become rare over the years. The three main sources for Mabe pearls today are:
    1. Winged Pearl oysters from genus Pteria, including the “original” Mabe-gai (Pteria penguin) and the “Rainbow-lip” pearl oyster (Pteria sterna).
    2. Mother-of-Pearl oysters from genus Pinctada, mainly from the larger Silver (Pinctada maxima) and Black (Pinctada margaritifera) lipped pearl
    07-20-2021, 11:59 PM
  • V. Processing Mabe or Natural Blisters
    by CortezPearls
    Since these pearls are not very useable in jewelry with the entire shell, they are processed: first they are cut from the shell, with the help of a handsaw, Dremel tool, core-drill or tile cutting saw. The type of tool will depend on availability and production volume, the first used mainly by occasional processing and the latter for commercial production.

    A lineup of the Mabe pearl process.

    Once the blister is separated from the shell, these are rinsed to remove grime,...
    07-20-2021, 11:44 PM