Pearls are exquisite gemstones formed within the soft tissue of certain mollusc’s, mainly oysters and mussels. They are renowned for their natural beauty and lustrous appearance, making them highly prized in the world of jewellery.
Here are some key points about pearls:
Formation: Pearls are formed when an irritant, such as a grain of sand or a parasite, enters the shell of a mollusc. In response, the molluscs secrete layers of nacre, a combination of calcium carbonate and organic substances, around the irritant to protect itself. Over time, these layers build up and form a pearl.
Types of pearls: There are several types of pearls, including natural pearls and cultured pearls. Natural pearls are extremely rare and are formed without any human intervention. Cultured pearls, on the other hand, are created through a process where humans intentionally introduce an irritant into the mollusc and facilitate the pearl formation.
Shapes and colours: Pearls come in various shapes, including round, oval, button, drop, and baroque (irregular shape). Their colours range from white, cream, and pink to black, grey, and even rare hues like golden and lavender. The colour and lustre of a pearl depend on the type of mollusc and the water conditions in which it was formed.
Grading: Pearls are graded based on factors such as size, shape, colour, lustre, surface quality, and symmetry. The highest-quality pearls have a round shape, excellent lustre, minimal surface blemishes, and a desirable colour.
Cultivation: Cultured pearls are grown in pearl farms, where molluscs are carefully raised in controlled environments. This process involves surgically inserting a nucleus (usually a round bead) and a piece of mantle tissue from a donor mollusc into the host mollusc. The mollusc then forms layers of nacre around the nucleus, gradually creating a pearl.
Symbolism: Pearls have held symbolic significance in many cultures throughout history. They have been associated with purity, beauty, wisdom, and wealth. Pearls are often considered a timeless and classic choice for jewellery, suitable for both formal and casual occasions.
Care and maintenance: Pearls are relatively soft compared to other gemstones, so they require special care. It is advisable to avoid exposing them to chemicals, perfumes, or extreme temperatures. Pearls should be stored separately from other jewellery to prevent scratching, and they can be gently cleaned with a soft cloth or a mild soap solution.
In conclusion, pearls are beautiful and precious gemstones that have captivated people for centuries. Their unique formation, range of colours, and symbolic value have made them a cherished and sought-after gem in the world of jewellery.
At The Steensons, we stock a varied collection of pearl jewellery, from the traditional pearl earrings to the more contemporary designs by Vincent Van Hees.