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What makes a baroque pearl barouque?

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  • What makes a baroque pearl barouque?

    as opposed to an odd shaped freshwater pearl? Is it because they are saltwater?

  • #2
    If this question were easy to answer we would not have any more baroque pearls!
    There are a lot of theories. Some say it is because the nucleus gets loose and moves around the gonad, others think it is to the whim of the oyster. As techniques are improving fewer baroques are being produced, and none of them are intentional.
    Freshwater pearls can also be baroque. Baroque pearls are simply pearls without a symetrical shape (if sliced from end to end). Because freshwater pearls do not have a bead-nucleus, baroque shape is very common, much more so than the common drop or circle shape of Tahitian pearls (commonly referred to as baroque - incorrectly, but accepted).
    Jeremy Shepherd
    President and Founder
    PearlParadise.com, Inc.
    The PearlParadise.com YouTube Channel
    PearlParadise.com on Flickr
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    • #3
      I do not concur with Mr. Shepherd: we know the reasons why pearls come out in baroque pearls (for most cases), altough it is not possible to stop them from coming out in this way...for plain commercial reasons.

      Most of the time, a baroque shape occurs during the first stages after the seeding operation, when the mantle piece (graft) is beginning to form the "pearl sac". If there is a mild bacterial infection you will get a small "bump" or "crinckle", but if a major infection happens you will have a large amount of gas produced by bacterial action and the pearl sac will deposit conquiolin (protein) that will expand around the "gas bubble". Eventually being coated with nacre, you will obtain baroques shapes or the notorious "Giant Gas Pearls" (huge pearls, full of foul smelling liquid). One of the reasons why some SSP producers began using antiobiotic coated nuclei was to lessen the amount of infections, thus decreasing baroque shaped pearls

      Also, for the pearl to become perfectly spherical it must rotate freely inside the pearl sac (in all directions), but due to tissue constraints (another organ, a muscle, etc.) the pearl will not be able to rotate at all...then you get a baroque. Different shapes are obtained with variations of this: teardrop-pearl rotates freely at the beginning, later spins only on one axis, etc.

      Finally, you have TIME. A very important factor. We've seen that if you grow the pearl for a short period -let's say: 4 months- it will be Round shaped about 95% of the times. BUT, if you grow it for a longer period -let's say: 20 months- it will be Round only 10% of the time.

      Obviously, this has a profound impact on quality:
      A)short culture=mainly round shapes=thin coated pearl.
      B)lenghty culture period= more baroque shapes=thickly coated pearl.

      There are many other considerations to take into account (oyster variety, seeding technique and tecnician, environmental conditions, etc.) but these are what I consider to be the 3 main reasons for baroque shapes.

      Douglas Mclaurin
      Attached Files

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      • #4
        I would also like to point out that Akoya producers also use antibiotic coated nuclei now as well.
        Jeremy Shepherd
        President and Founder
        PearlParadise.com, Inc.
        The PearlParadise.com YouTube Channel
        PearlParadise.com on Flickr
        PearlParadise.com on Facebook
        Some of My Favorite Pearly Finds on Instagram

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        • #5
          I can also confirm that the Chinese are treating mantle tissue with an antibiotic prior to insertion. I believe I have a picture of this, I'll post it if i can find it.
          Kevin Canning
          Pearls Of Joy
          www.PearlsOfJoy.com
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          • #6
            Mantle tissue has been "treated" with antibiotics since decades...even before antibiotic use was widespread mantle pieces were treated with Merbromin solution (Mercurochrome Tincture) for 2 reasons: as an antiseptic and to better visualize the mantle.

            To me, the use of antibiotic coated nuclei on Akoya is something really new. Thanks for sharing this info...could we say it has become a standard procedure now??? How long has this been taking place???

            Thanks for the Information...it is great to share knowledge.

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            • #7
              It has been going on for quite some time. The nuclei are soaked in a liquid solution with antibiotics prior to the insertion. I was under the imression the Japanese have been doing it this way for years...
              Jeremy Shepherd
              President and Founder
              PearlParadise.com, Inc.
              The PearlParadise.com YouTube Channel
              PearlParadise.com on Flickr
              PearlParadise.com on Facebook
              Some of My Favorite Pearly Finds on Instagram

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              • #8
                You got it right entirely...it is the way it has been done for decades: dipping the nuclei inside water with antibiotic.

                My mistake, I was trying to talk antibiotic coated nuclei...these are usually thickly coated with yellow-colored tetracyclin antibiotic (wide spectrum). In this case, the beads are packed in vacuum sealed plastic bags (0.5 Kilo) ready to be used...no dipping involved. Must be used right away whenever possible. Maybe other antibiotics are being used now as well. Read some papers that these actually help reduce baroque shapes by about 30% in some instances.

                I don't personally use these...don't like the idea of creating resistant strains of "SuperBacteria".

                Douglas

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                • #9
                  That is definitely not the way it is done in Asia - especially in China. The nuclei are packed tight in burlap bags and 5 gallon buckets until they are ready
                  One thing that always amazes me is the way they sit down for 2-3 weeks on end and examine every nucleus to make sure the quality is high enough to use for nucleation. Then, if a pearl came out poor, they strip the nacre, repolish, and use it again. A lot of work for those little things!
                  Last edited by jshepherd; 08-30-2005, 11:56 PM.
                  Jeremy Shepherd
                  President and Founder
                  PearlParadise.com, Inc.
                  The PearlParadise.com YouTube Channel
                  PearlParadise.com on Flickr
                  PearlParadise.com on Facebook
                  Some of My Favorite Pearly Finds on Instagram

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    You got it right entirely...it is the way it has been done for decades: dipping the nuclei inside water with antibiotic.
                    For those members that don't have the ability to actually visit a pearl farm, here is a pic of a technician getting ready to insert a nucleus after dipping it in antibiotic.
                    Kevin Canning
                    Pearls Of Joy
                    www.PearlsOfJoy.com
                    Read My Blog
                    FaceBook Fan Page
                    1-800-451-1411

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jshepherd
                      One thing that always amazes me is the way they sit down for 2-3 weeks on end and examine every nucleus to make sure the quality is high enough to use for nucleation. Then, if a pearl came out poor, they strip the nacre, repolish, and use it again. A lot of work for those little things!
                      That is quite a lot of work...most Aussie producers will do the same to their nuclei, but when you are talking about beads that measure between 16-22 mm it is quite understandeable (large nuclei can even be sold individually, and cost at least $100 USD and sometimes more).

                      Mr. Shepherd: Are they using Bironite beads in Chinese Akoya?

                      Regards,

                      Douglas

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                      • #12
                        I do not think anyone uses byronite in China, and I have not heard of it in Japan either. The cost is just so much higher, I think only producers of larger pearls such as the Tahitians are using it. Most Chinese prefer the Chinese shell for nuclei, and it is now it is used a lot in Japan as well (Mississippi shell is getting more scarce/expensive).
                        Do you use any byronite in Mexico? How is it? Does the hardness work well with nacre?
                        Jeremy Shepherd
                        President and Founder
                        PearlParadise.com, Inc.
                        The PearlParadise.com YouTube Channel
                        PearlParadise.com on Flickr
                        PearlParadise.com on Facebook
                        Some of My Favorite Pearly Finds on Instagram

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          We tried a small sample of Bironite from an Aussie supplier...larger beads (2.5 bu) than those we usually use on our Rainbow Lipped Oyster so we were not able to gauge them appropiately. Still, we tested them: dropped them, slammed them against a hard surface, drilled them, heated them, etc.

                          They are really good: drilling tests were excellent! They never chip nor crack nor separate (you've seen it: the nuclei just breaks apart, usually at a protein layer). But, they are still expensive.

                          Still, it is good to have an option...specially if the mussel fisheries are closed in the future or environmental changes affect mussel populations. You can never tell.

                          Douglas

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                          • #14
                            Did you try heating the pearls that had the byronite nucleus? How is the density (2.8g/cc)? This is one of the problems with the Tridacnae nucleus (that and it is a protected species).

                            Have you read anything on 'Vapor Encapsulation'? If this new process is a success I think that quality nuclei will no longer be a problem as even 4th grade will look like first. I guess this really only matters to Akoya producers, but in the end it would help everyone, and improve the overall quality of Akoya pearls in general.
                            Jeremy Shepherd
                            President and Founder
                            PearlParadise.com, Inc.
                            The PearlParadise.com YouTube Channel
                            PearlParadise.com on Flickr
                            PearlParadise.com on Facebook
                            Some of My Favorite Pearly Finds on Instagram

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                            • #15
                              Douglas,

                              Have tried to follow the development of cultured black pearls from Baja but have not seen them now for several years. Are you set up in Tucson?

                              I would, for one, be very interested in and update on how you and your farm are doing. One image you posted in another thread seems to indicate that the quality of the production has improved since I last saw it. At that time, several years ago in Hong Kong, the pearls were small, misshapen and seemed to have a brown overtone. The one in the image has a beautiful orient, tell us more.
                              Last edited by Richard W. Wise; 12-30-2005, 11:14 AM.

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