Natural and cultured pearls
Types of Pearls
There is a fascinating world under the seas that is full of unusual life forms and precious treasures. A magical place where pearls are born.
A natural pearl begins its life as a foreign object, such as a parasite or piece of shell that accidentally lodges itself in an oyster's soft inner body where it cannot be expelled.
To ease this irritant, the oyster's body takes defensive action. The oyster begins to secrete a smooth, hard crystalline substance around the irritant in order to protect itself.
This substance is called "nacre."
As long as the irritant remains within its body, the oyster will continue to secrete nacre around it, layer upon layer.
Over time, the irritant will be completely encased by the silky crystalline coatings.
And the result, ultimately, is the lovely and lustrous gem called a pearl.
The natural process of pearl formation is often given a helping hand. Through careful implanting of foreign bodies into a healthy oyster the process of laying down mother of pearl (nacre), is given a kick start.
Oysters and other molluscs though, are very sensitive creatures and they often manage to discard the foreign body thus oppressing the formation of a pearl. Not only this, but they are incredibly sensitive and react to every environmental change. Even cultured pearls are a wonder of nature, as out of the hundreds of harvested pearls there is only ever one or two that are perfectly formed.
Numerous molluscs and types of oysters produce a huge range of pearls with which to enhance any piece of jewellery. The following pages will inform you about the most popular cultured pearls. A good jeweller can advise you which type of pearl suits you best.