For centuries, pearls are considered as queen of gems. They are always heart captivating of women. They are hard, lustrous, glistening object produced in the soft tissue of a living shelled mollusk. The ideal pearl is round and smooth, but it is very rare to found, so the pearls which are other than round are known as “Baroque Pearls”.
The most valuable pearls occur spontaneously in the wild, but are extremely rare. These pearls are also known as “Natural Pearls”. Other than that, the pearls which are cultured in oysters are called “Cultured Pearl”. Today, maximum pearls, which are available in market are cultured pearl. And the last one are imitation pearls. Let’s discuss in detail.
Natural pearls are basically the miracle of nature. It is not an exaggeration if we say pearls are the result of an accident occurs naturally. Natural pearl consist of calcium carbonate in the form of aragonite or a mixture of aragonite and calicte held together by an organic compound Conchiolin. Natural pearls are formed when a specific type of irritant, could be a parasite or a sand particle enters into the mollusk, when it open its valves for respiration or to take food, to protect the mollusk from intruder it starts secreting a compound over the irritant known as “Nacre”. And that years and years of secretion makes several layers of nacre over the irritant which finally forms the Pearl.
Finding a natural pearl now is very rare thing. Probability of finding natural pearl is 1/10000.
Cultured pearls are also natural pearls, but here the irritants are planted inside the mollusc shells by humans in control environment. There number of methods for producing cultured pearls. Technicians very gently implant the bead with a mantle tissue in a living mollusc. Bead is also known as nucleus around which the nacre is secreted, which finally result in the formation Pearl. This technique of culturing pearls is very tricky and requires special skills.
Natural pearls can be distinguished from cultured pearls through the use of X-Ray, which reveal the bead inside the cultured pearl.
Imitation pearls are fake or artificial pearls which are man made and intend to imitate like natural or cultured pearls but their natural chemical composition or physical structure both are completely different from the natural or cultured pearls.
They are basically made from glass, ceramic, shell or even plastic. Imitation pearls are marketed as man made or artificial pearls, sometimes regional names are also used to describe them like: “Mallorca Pearls” or ” Red Sea pearls”. They are of very cheap quality and their luster vanishes by time.