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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cultured Pearls vs Fresh Water Pearls

Cultured Pearls
 Pearls are recognized in the jewelry industry as gemstones. Incredibly, they are the only type of gemstones to develop from an actual living life form. Pearls consist of approximately 85% of mineral calcium carbonate aka nacre. The other 12% is made of organic material and the remaining 3% is just simply water. 

Today, natural pearls are so rare and difficult to find. Most pearls used in the industry are not nature made but cultured.  That means it is man with human intervention.  To make a cultured pearl, a tiny irritant is set in into the oyster. Over a period of time, the oyster coats the irritant in many layers of organic minerals and proteins. These layers are known as “nacre”. It is the material which gives a pearl their beautiful shine and luster. Nacre chemical compound consist of a combination of crystalline and other naturally organic substances. Layer of nacre accumulated and surrounds the irritant, eventually forming what we see as a pearl.

The main difference between natural pearls and cultured pearls is the 1st is formed by chance while the latter is made through human manipulation.  Almost all pearls sold today are cultured. Subsequently, natural pearls are more expensive. The only was to authenticate a natural pearl from a cultured pearl is by way of x-rays, which will reveal its inner layers.

What is the major difference between a pearl composed of freshwater and cultured pearls? The simple answer is that freshwater pearls are in fact the same as cultured pearls. Also, most pearl buyers use the phrase “cultured pearls" as an industry trade lingo to describe “Akoya” pearls.  

Therefore, it is note worthy to recognize that when you are in the market for your next pearl purchase that freshwater pearls can be also being identified as cultured pearls or vice versa. It is also important to understand that strand freshwater pearls will never have anymore value than a strand of equivalent quality “Akoya pearls”.

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