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  • Metallics

    Hi everyone hope you’re all well

    General question for you all; I know most freshwaters go through standard luster “treatment” at point of origin (hot and cold to tighten nacre up) but where do things stand on metallics?

    Are “metallics” just the ones that have had extra luster treatment or something? I guess I’m asking what really differentiates normal freshwaters from metallics or is it just a marketing term for the ones that are shiner??

    Whilst I’m here, let’s also talk about ripples. I mean they’re eye popping gorgeous of course, but HOW do they get that oil slick overtone??? I’ve read the technical side of how nacre is formed and what influences colours and overtones... but this is magic!

    Edited to add: my question is how exactly are metallic pearls produced? What mollusk? (And then we can investigate the traits that mollusk has in order to produce specific metallic pearls as a pose to normal luster ones). Thank you!
    Last edited by moonpie; 02-17-2021, 02:41 PM.

  • #2
    The metallic luster on freshwater pearls is natural, not a treatment. It's the thicker nacre on these off round and rippled pearls gives the greater eye popping colors. And yes, it does feel like magic, doesn't it? The thinner the nacre, the duller the pearl. The thicker the nacre, the more likely the pearl will not be perfectly round, but yay for thicker nacre, because you get more pearly goodness.

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    • #3
      So I know the metallic luster is natural, but how exactly is it “a thing” now? I don’t think I’m being clear.. why do we have metallics only now, as a pose to having them since the beginning of pearl time?

      Maybe it’s the result of a hybrid experiment??

      Ah that’s my question! How do we get “metallic” pearls specifically, or are they pearls that we’ve had all along which are just newly being described by this marketing term?

      It’s like “chocolate diamonds”. What would have been discarded as nasty years back, is now marketed well and has a consumer market for it.

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      • #4
        Back in 2008 or so when Jeremy first started selling metallic FWP, he had to ask the factories to separate the metallic ones out; before that they were not being marketed separately.

        The metallic quality is natural, and is not just about nacre thickness. There are many pearls with thick nacre an excellent luster that are not metallic.

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        • #5
          Good question...and really hard to answer since this is not just about 1 or 2 things, but rather "multidimensional" and I believe pearl farmers are not tackling it at all.
          This is what I believe:
          1) When the Chinese wanted to improve their pearl production and shifted from the Cristaria plicata mussel to a Hyriopsis mussel, they had to LEARN how to work with this animal, this may take DECADES.
          2) They introduced the Biwa Mussel (Hyriopsis schlegelii) from Japan into China and hybridized it with the local one, creating a better mussel (outbreeding usually results in stronger and more beautiful offspring) for pearl production.
          3) Adding up #1 & #2 gave them a better pearl producing species, capable of pulling this off (better pearls) BUT the 4th element is also important, and it is...
          4) MASSIVE PRODUCTION: when you produce 1,000 metric tons of pearls per year...even if you have 1% that are gem grade you will have more gem pearls than any other pearl producer in the world (or even combined).

          It's like Humanity itself: We have 7 billion people and how many of these are Einsteins, Teslas, Da Vincis, Mozzarts, Bachs, Curies, Hararis, Machiavelis, Mother Theresas, Ghandis, Buddhas, etc. Of our greater population and we just have a handful of genuinely great individuals! (we are all unique, special, and loved of course, and our lives are not less important than those of the "Great Mensh"!).

          So, as the great Hermetic teaching goes: "As it is Above, it is Below" and we have this commonality with Pearls: all pearls are precious and unique, but just a few are truly gems. Does this make sense?
          Douglas McLaurin-Moreno
          Admin to Pearl-Guide.com
          Pearl Farming Specialist
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          Your Life evolves in the same way a Pearl grows: with continuous layers of experiences/nacre that add to the Story of your Life on Earth and make you Unique and Beautiful.
          Douglas McLaurin-Moreno

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          • #6
            Originally posted by moonpie View Post
            So I know the metallic luster is natural, but how exactly is it “a thing” now? I don’t think I’m being clear.. why do we have metallics only now, as a pose to having them since the beginning of pearl time?

            Maybe it’s the result of a hybrid experiment??

            Ah that’s my question! How do we get “metallic” pearls specifically, or are they pearls that we’ve had all along which are just newly being described by this marketing term?

            It’s like “chocolate diamonds”. What would have been discarded as nasty years back, is now marketed well and has a consumer market for it.
            As you know most pearls are processed (maeshori) to spiffy up their appearance. At basic it is a bit of temperature work and buffing - not much different to buffing your nails if you were a Victorian lady.
            And that is reasonably sustainable, so that the durability and quality of the lustre will not deteriorate over time to any appreciable degree. But treatments cannot turn a dull pearl into something with a mirror finish.
            And they can be pushed to the limits. When I was in HK this time last year (oh sighs) I saw one company with some astonishingly shiny 8-9-10 white round metallic freshwaters, bead nucleated. Without putting them next to akoya, they would certainly have stood up against them in the shine category.
            But I didn't get any because I had already heard from other sellers that the rumour was that the processing had been pushed to the limit and maybe even beyond, and while the pearls looked amazing now, in a year or two they would have deteriorated. It was asking too much of the nacre.
            Metallic generally is what is called double shiny in HK (I always ask for double-double shiny!) Some wholesalers think it is too shiny(!) and prefer less mirror-y.
            Being able to see a clear reflection is a pretty good indication of metallic. Sometimes there's mirror-metallic, where the lustre is so sharp that the reflection really is like a mirror. That's rare.
            Why more metallics now? Because farming methods have improved.
            It's nothing to do with depth of nacre. My comments apply pretty much to all types of pearl
            Author:Pearls A Practical Guide published by Crowood Jan 2021
            www.pearlsapractical.guide

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            • #7
              Wow thanks for the responses; Douglas and Wendy - particularly interesting reads! Between those two responses my curiosity has been quenched!

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