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The History of Pearls

2017-12-01 15:10:06 3 By: Trienie / Ria Times Read: 937

Hi Everyone,

Today we take a ride through ‘The History of Pearls’ brought to you by Jewelry Expo Store.

The History of Pearls

The pearl is the only gem created by a living creature, which gives them a special and unique allure. With more than 5000 years history in mankind’s history, the pearl is the “queen of gems”, 

Who would have thought that it takes between 5 and 20 years for a saltwater pearl to develop and between 1 and 6 years for a freshwater pearl to develop? Precious indeed!  For centuries, pearls have been a symbol of beauty and purity.

Next time you take a look at your precious pearl jewelry, remember that it is one of a kind. 


The first step is to identify the type of pearl: The four main pearl types used in jewelry is Freshwater,  Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea pearls




Each type of pearl is produced by a different species of mollusk  (pearl oyster), and each mollusk lives in a different region of the world under very specific climatic conditions.



Six factors determine the quality, value, and beauty of pearls: Nacre, Lustre, Surface, Shape, Colour, and Size.


Pearl Nacre:

Nacre is the natural substance that the mollusk secretes to protect its sensitive flesh from irritants such as shell fragments, parasites or implanted beads.This is the same beautiful iridescent material that lines the inner surface of the mollusk shells, aptly named the mother of pearl.  Nacre thickness is a quality characteristic only applied to saltwater, bead-nucleated pearls. It is not applied to Keshia pearls or Freshwater pearls as both are composed of solid nacre.


Pearl Luster:

Pearl luster (also spelled Lustre) is the measurement of the quality and quantity of light that reflects from the surface and just under the surface of a pearl. Pearl Luster is the Shine That Gives Pearls Their Beauty.  The luster of good quality pearls is sharp and bright. You should be able to see your reflection clearly on the surface of a pearl. Any pearl that appears too white, dull or chalky, is of low quality.





Pearl Surface: 

The surface condition of a pearl is one of the crucial factors that determine its durability and value. A fine quality pearl should have a bright reflection and smooth surface. But its very rare to find pearls with a completely flawless surface. Most of them will have some degree of blemishes.  Notice that the highest quality pearls have a sharp, mirror-like reflection.




Pearl Shapes:

A perfectly round pearl is very rare. The rounder the pearl, the more valuable it is. Baroque pearls are not symmetrical in shape, and can be lustrous and appealing, but will typically cost less than round pearls.



Pearl Colors:

Pearls come in a variety of colors, from white to black and every shade in between.It is important to distinguish between color and overtone. For example, some naturally occurring colors are white, champagne, aqua, green, golden, and black. Within each color category, there are a number of common overtones or subtle variations in the surface iridescence. Choosing your preferred overtone is a matter of taste, although rosé overtones tend to look best on fair skin, while cream and gold-toned pearls are most flattering to those with darker complexions.










Pearl Sizes:


The value of a pearl is determined by its size.  The larger the pearl, the more valuable. A pearl's size is measured according to its diameter in mm. Sizes range from 1 mm or less, in the case of very tiny pearls, to as much as 20 mm (more than 3/4") for large South Sea pearls. The average pearl sold today is between 6.5 mm and 7.5 mm range.

Akoya pearls greater than 8 mm are considered extremely rare. The largest pearl an Akoya oyster can produce is around 9 or 10 mm. Pearls larger than 10 mm are generally not Akoya pearls but are instead: black Tahitians, white South Sea pearls, or large freshwater pearls.       




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