21 October 2016
Pearls, a symbol of purity and natural beauty, have been admired as precious gemstones for centuries longer than any cut stone. While all other gems are mined from the earth’s surface, pearls are organic gemstones, ones which are created by living organisms. There are several varieties of pearls available today.
When a foreign object, such as a grain of sand, a food particle or a shell bead gets trapped inside a shell producing oyster, it covers the object with layers of minerals and proteins called the nacre, a naturally shining substance which produces a smooth and visually appealing outer surface. Natural pearls are extremely rare and it is estimated that only 1 in every 10,000 oysters produce a pearl.
Although cultured pearls are also formed by oysters, the foreign objects i.e. the shell beads are inserted inside an oyster through a delicate surgical procedure. Over time, the oyster covers the bead with nacre, forming a pearl which is then removed. The size and coloration of the pearls vary depending on the type of oysters selected for pearl harvesting.