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Baroque pearls wholesale to Round Pearl : All About Pearls Grading

Baroque Pearls Wholesale to Round Pearl : All About Pearls Grading

Pearl quality factors on round pearls to baroque pearls wholesale
wholesale pearlsPearls are graded using at least six main quality factors: shape, lustre, surface contour, colour, size and nacre thickness (Matlins, 2002; Strack, 2006; Taylor & Strack, 2008). The relative importance of each depends mainly on the jeweller or pearl producer. However, nowadays all pearls are initially sorted on the basis of species origin before running through these quality factors (J. Shepherd, pers. comm., 2007); for example, South Sea pearls are from Pinctada maxima. This factor however is sometimes difficult to assess unless the pearl grader knows where the pearls were produced. It is even more difficult for the buyers or customers to distinguish the difference and this issue may be open for deception. (source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

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Lustre on round pearls to baroque pearls wholesale

pearl Luster Grade
pearl Luster Grade

Fig.1.7. Different types of pearl lustre of South Sea pearls from high (left) to low quality (right). Images supplied by The Autore Group. (source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

Lustre describes the reflectance of light from the pearl surface. High lustre means high reflectivity (mirror-like reflectivity) but pearls with low lustre appear chalky or dull (Fig. 1.7). Lustre is probably the major consideration when assessing pearl quality. People tend to buy shining baroque pearls rather than chalky round pearls (Matlins, 2002). However, grading pearls based primarily on this criterion is subjective and open to wide-interpretation (Strack, 2006) due to differences in people’s perception. (source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

Shape on round pearls to baroque pearls wholesale
chart-tp

(source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

Pearl shapes range from round to baroque (Fig. 1.8). The nucleus is one factor that influences the shape of the pearl. Without a nucleus, pearl shape is usually irregularly (baroque) and to create a round pearl a round nucleus is required as a basis for pearl formation although this does not always result in the formation of round pearls. On this basis, round pearls are more marketable due to their rareness (Matlins, 2002). (source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

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(source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

The shape matrix for pearl grading is divided in three main categories: spherical, symmetrical and baroque (Matlins, 2002; Strack, 2006). The round category is divided in ‘round’ and ‘nearly round’, ‘symmetrical in oval’, ‘button’ and ‘drop’ while baroque is divided into ‘semi baroque’ and ‘baroque’ (Strack, 2006) (Fig. 1.8). In grading South Sea pearls however, a circle shape is also added into the symmetrical category (Fig. 1.8). Tahitian pearls, for example, have a high proportion of ‘circles’ (concentric grooves in the surface of the pearls) (Matlins, 2002). The new pearl shapes on the market today which are based on various nuclei forms: coin pearls, bar pearls (Matlins, 2002) are excluded from this grading matrix which is only applied to round nucleus cultured pearls. (source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

Surface complexity on round pearls to baroque pearls wholesale

Surface Quality Grade
Surface Quality Grade

(source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

‘Surface complexity’ assesses the degree of blemishes or flaws covering the surface of a pearl. Blemishes may range from small spots to big chips or cracks or calcareous bumps on the pearl surface (Matlins, 2002). Generally, the fewer surface blemishes a pearl has then the higher its quality. Some types of cultured pearls have a high proportion of surface blemishes. However, in grading South Sea pearls, big ridges forming rings (usually more than three rings) in a pearl is categorised as a circled pearl (Fig. 1.8). Small spots (non calcareous) on the surface of a pearl are usually removed by polishing treatment after harvest. (source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

Colour on round pearls to baroque pearls wholesale

pearl table
pearl table

(source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

Colours of pearls do not merely result from pigments but also from reflection and refraction (Dakin, 1913; Snow et al., 2004), and the nature of the material surrounding the nucleus (Simkiss & Wada, 1980). Thus, pearl structure is an important influence on pearl colour. The phenomenon of iridescence that shows glittering of various colours in a pearl is due to the interference and diffraction of light interacting with the specific structure of a pearl’s surface (Taylor & Strack, 2008)(Fig. 1.10). Iridescence is usually considered with lustre in pearl grading. Another colour phenomenon is overtone or glow. Overtone is a translucent colour that may sometimes appear on pearls together with its original (body) colour (Strack, 2006). However, it may alter the body colour somewhat (Matlins, 2002). A pearl can be named silver-rose, which indicates that silver is the main colour and rose is the overtone (Fig. 1.11). Snow et al. (2004) studied colour in pearls from Pinctada maxima and found that ‘edge-band structure width’ (thickness of the organic matrix) controls the diffraction of lights which consequently create different colour tones; the ticker the edge-band width, the darker the colour, while the more irregular the band, the colour becomes more unsaturated. The main natural pearl colours for pearls produced by P. maxima are shown in Fig. 1.11. (source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

Size on round pearls to baroque pearls wholesale

The size of pearls is usually measured in millimetres (mm). Generally, cultured pearls with size below 7 mm are categorised as small pearls, large pearls are above 7 mm (Strack, 2006). However, each type of pearl has its own categorization because larger species of pearl oysters have the capacity to produce larger pearls (Table 1.2). Large Akoya pearls from P. fucata, for example, are more than 7 mm while large South Sea pearls can be up to 20 mm. Large pearls are usually more valuable than the small pearls. (source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

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(source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

Nacre thickness on round pearls to baroque pearls wholesale

The thickness of the nacre layers laid down on the nucleus is measured in millimetres (mm). This factor is applied mainly to cultured pearls. Nacre thickness is strongly related to the length of culture time after the implantation; the longer the culture time the thicker the nacre. In Akoya pearls, nacre thickness below 0.15 mm is categorised as very thin while more than 0.5 mm is very thick (Matlins, 2002; Strack, 2006). South Sea cultured pearls generally have thicker nacre than other pearls and the proportion of nacre is up to 40 to 50% (Matlins, 2002). The minimum thickness of nacre for exported Tahitian pearls is 0.8 mm (Southgate et al., 2008b). Historically, nacre thickness in pearls from P. maxima ranged from 1.5 mm to 5 mm with an average thickness of 2 – 4 mm (Strack, 2006). However, recent years have seen a decline in the nacre thickness of South Sea pearls, particularly those produced in Indonesia (Strack, 2006). (source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

Pearl grading systems on round pearls to baroque pearls wholesale
PEARLSCOM.QUALITY_2048x2048

(source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

There is no universally accepted system for pearl grading (Matlins, 2002; Strack, 2006). There are currently two systems available for pearl grading: AAA-A and A-D systems. However, both of these are open to interpretation among pearl producers (Matlins, 2002); in some occasions one producer categorize a pearl as AAA grade (following the AAA-A system) while others categorize it as AA grade (Matlins, pers.comm., 2008). These systems have also never been published for scientific use and a system that could be used routinely in grading pearls produces using different experimental procedures is desperately needed. Initially, the AAA-A system was commonly applied to Akoya pearls but it could also be applied for pearls from other species. The system consists of three levels of grading i.e, AAA is the highest, AA is medium and A is the lowest quality pearls for jewellery purposes. Any characteristics below A grade is categorized as a reject pearl. On the other hand, The A-D system has mainly been applied to grading South Sea pearls. The system consists of four grading levels: A is the highest, B is medium-high, C is medium and D is the lowest. Any characteristics below D grade is categorized as a reject pearl. (source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

akoya-pearl-grades-sml

(source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

The need for a universal grading system is urgent. Such grading is available for other gemstones such as diamonds. Such a system could be used with natural and cultured pearls and more importantly for the various types of cultured pearls that are common on the market. One potential problem relates to the thickness of the nacre layer of cultured pearls. The market is overwhelmed with pearls which have very thin nacre that is easy to peel off (Matlins, pers.comm., 2007). This result from a short culture time between implantation and pearl harvest and the resulting pearls have a lower price. The system could require a certain minimum nacre thickness, which would influence pearl culture practices. (source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

Pearl testing on round pearls to baroque pearls wholesale
Baroque Pearls Wholesale

(source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

Assessing the quality of pearls involves various tools and methods. As summarized by Kennedy (1998), Strack (2006) and Webster (1994), pearl quality tests are mainly visual and often subjective. They involve the use of optical microscopes to differentiate between genuine and fake pearls. Genuine pearls can be recognised by relief lines on their surface under 20 x magnifications while a fake pearls look smooth (Strack, 2006). Natural and cultured pearls can be distinguished using a hole drilled into the pearl. Through this hole the borderline between the nucleus and the nacre can be viewed in cultured pearls. However, for pearls without holes methods using a lucidoscope or endoscope can be applied. These two apparatus need strong light gleaming through the pearls. (source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)

These methods can also be used to measure the thickness of the nacre. Further methods are X-ray diffraction (lauegram method), X-radiography (skiagram method) and X-ray fluorescence. The last two methods can be applied to determine the thickness of nacre while the former is used for observing the diffraction pattern of the tested pearls. UV-Vis spectrophotometry has been used to distinguish between treated and untreated pearls (Elen, 2001) and to determine characteristic absorption/reflectance spectra that enables identification of species-origin of cultured pearls (Elen, 2002). In conclusion, various tools are used for pearl testing but there is no single method that can be used for overall pearl grading. (source: Baroque Pearls Wholesale)
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Pearl formation and pearl characteristics

Pearl formation and pearl characteristics

pearl table
pearl table

Based on its composition, pearls can be categorised as nacreous and non-nacreous (Kennedy, 1998). Nacreous pearls (mostly aragonite) are produced by species with nacreous lining to the inner surfaces of their shell(s) (MOP) but non-nacreous pearls can be produced either from non-nacreous shells or from nacreous shells that may secrete pearls with less aragonite platelets. Commercially cultured pearls, however, are mostly nacreous. The following description of pearl and nacre formation is based on studies with nacreous shells or pearls.

wholesale pearlsCultured pearl formation begins with the development of a pearl-sac that is formed from proliferation of saibo tissue (Scoones, 1996). This is the tissue responsible for nacre secretion. Along with the development of the pearl-sac, mineral deposition occurs and continues after the mantle heals or forms a sac. The process of pearl-sac formation and mineral deposition may take up to six months after the implantation in P. margaritifera (Haws, 2002) and the complete healing of the pearl-sac in P. martensi can be within two weeks only (Strack, 2006).

Scoones (1996) studied pearl-sac formation and mineral/nacre deposition in P. maxima in detail. He reported that development of the pearl-sac took approximately 23 days from the implantation and that the first secretions from the pearl-sac onto the nucleus were evident about 30 days after the implantation. Mineral deposition within the pearl-sac begins with the secretion of periostracum and is followed by ostracum for non-nacreous pearls.

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In nacreous pearl formation however, the layers of periostracum and ostracum are covered with a hypostracum (nacre) layer. The pearl formation mechanism follows the layering structure of the shell but in reversed order (Strack, 2006). In the shell, the periostracum forms the outer surface while it is the innermost layer at the interface between the nucleus and the pearl layers, in a cultured pearl.

The periostracum is a thin layer that contains mainly conchiolin. The other layers: ostracum or prismatic layer and the hypostracum or nacreous layers are two polymorphous layers of calcium carbonate. These two calcareous layers are composed of calcite (in the prismatic layer) and aragonite (in the nacreous layer). The building structure of the prismatic layer is columnar while the nacreous layer is composed of layers in a brick-mortar arrangement where the bricks are aragonite platelets and the mortar is composed with organic matrix (Addadi & Weiner, 1997; Barthelat & Espinosa, 2007; Checa & Rodriguez-Navarro, 2005; Fougerouse et al., 2008; Gre´goire, 1957; Katti & Katti, 2006; Rousseau et al., 2004) (Fig. 1.6).

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A study with Pinctada maxima, reported that the uniformity of the nacre structure may contribute to the saturation of pearl colour; the more regular the structure the more saturated the colour will be (Snow et al., 2004). However, most of the studies on pearl layers have mainly focused on shell nacre (MOP) as a parallel comparison to the pearl. There is a difference between the structure of nacre in pearls and that in shells: nacre is concentric in pearls while it is layered in MOP (Strack, 2006). Recent detailed studies on pearl structure are few.

Fig. 1.6. Schematic drawings of (a) a three dimensional view of brick-mortar arrangement of aragonite platelets and conchiolin as a coating matrix, and (b) a cross-section view of the brick mortar arrangement of nacre in a pearl (Taylor & Strack, 2008).

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Wholesale Pearl : Production of cultured pearls

Wholesale Pearl : Production of cultured pearls

Wholesale Pearl
Pearls Farm

Cultured pearls are divided in two types: bead nucleated and tissue nucleated pearls (also called non-nucleated pearls) (Scarratt et al., 2000). Principally, bead nucleated pearls are pearls generated from nuclei and mantle tissue while tissue nucleated pearls are generated from mantle tissue only.

Bead nucleated pearls consist of blisters (mabè or half pearls), flat or coin pearls (not common) and round pearls (Fiske & Shepherd, 2007; Kennedy, 1998), while tissue nucleated pearls include several types of freshwater cultured pearls and keshi. (source: Wholesale Pearl)

1.4.1 Cultured blisters or mabè
Wholesale PearlCultured blisters or mabè are types of bead nucleated pearls. They are produced by gluing rounded or hemi-spherical nuclei (or beads) onto the inner surfaces of oyster shells (Strack, 2006). The nuclei are placed in the most lustrous area (Haws, 2002) and attached to either one or both shell valves (George, 1967). Nuclei used for mabè pearl production are manufactured from shells, plastics and paraffin (Strack, 2006). The shapes of the nuclei usually depend on operator preferences but hemispherical nuclei are commonly used. (source: Wholesale Pearl)

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Blisters can be produced from all molluscs with nacreous-linings to their shells but only a few of these have been commercially cultivated. For example, the abalone, Haliotis iris, has been developed extensively in New Zealand for commercial blister pearl production (Strack, 2006). Most other molluscs used for culturing blister pearls are bivalves especially from the family Pteriidae. For example, the winged-pearl oyster, Pteria penguin, and the related Pt. sterna are commonly used for commercial blister pearl production (Gervis & Sims, 1992; Ruiz-Rubio et al., 2006; Southgate, 2007). Pt. penguin is mainly found and cultivated in the Indo-Pacific and Pt. sterna is in the Central America (Shirai, 1994). These types of pearl oysters are used primarily for producing mabè pearls due to their ability to produce lustrous nacre but their limited ability to be used for cultured round pearl production (George, 1967; Ruiz-Rubio et al., 2006; Shirai, 1994; Yu et al., 2004). Some mabè pearls are also developed from other members of family Pteriidae that are used primarily for round pearl production such as Pinctada maxima and P. margaritifera (Strack, 2006), however, mabè cultivation from these species is usually conducted once their use for round pearl cultivation has ceased. Cristaria plicata is the common species for blister production in freshwater (Webster, 1994). (source: Wholesale Pearl)

1.4.2 Cultured round pearl

indonesia south sea pearls cultivation
Indonesia south sea pearls cultivation

The second type of bead-nucleated pearls is the cultured round pearl which has greater value. Production of round pearls requires a round nucleus to be implanted with a piece of mantle (nacre secreting) tissue from a donor oyster into the gonad of a recipient oyster. This process is known as ‘pearl implantation’ or ‘grafting’ or ‘seeding’. The mantle used in this process is known as ‘saibo’ (from the Japanese meaning ‘tiny penis’). This method is commonly applied to pearl oysters and is now being applied to freshwater mussels (Fiske & Shepherd, 2007; Strack, 2006). (source: Wholesale Pearl)

1.4.2.1 Pre operation phase
The oysters used for cultured pearl production are usually one to two years old (Haws, 2002). Prior to nucleus implantation, oysters selected for implantation undergo a conditioning or weakening phase for up to one month. They are usually held under crowded conditions which cause nutritional and or physiological stress that reduces their metabolic rate (Taylor & Strack, 2008; Taylor, 1999). They may also be induced to spawn or resorb material within the gonad to provide space within the gonad for nucleus implantation.
The conditioning phase may continue until 24 hours before implantation. With Pinctada maxima, the oysters are sometimes put into tanks overnight after the weakening phase in the sea (Taylor, 1999). Before the implantation, the water level is then lowered until the oysters are fully exposed to air. In this condition, the oysters are forced to open their shells and they are pegged open with wedges. This procedure reduces the potential for injury to the mantle (Joseph Taylor, Atlas South Sea Pearls, pers. comm). (source: Wholesale Pearl)

1.4.2.2 Operation phase
In the operation phase, the pegged oysters are brought to the operator for nucleus implantation or are selected for saibo preparation (donors). This technician is skilled for pearl implantation (Haws, 1998; Tun, 1994). The donor oysters are selected on the basis of their nacre colour and lustre because these characters may contribute to the quality of the resulting pearls (Taylor, 2002). Saibo tissue is usually prepared from the central-ventral region of the mantle where the pronounced colour and lustre exist. Following excision, the mantle tissue is cleaned to remove mucus and is cut into small sections (approximately 3 x 3 mm2) on a chopping board. (source: Wholesale Pearl)

Indonesia south sea pearls (Lombok Pearls)
Indonesia south sea pearls (Lombok Pearls)

(source: Wholesale Pearl)

For the implantation procedure, the oyster prepared for the implantation is placed in a stand and a shell-opening tool is used to hold both valves open while the peg is pulled out. The shell opener is then turned to the posterior part of the shell to allow other operating tools to access the oyster tissue. After that, a spatula is used to move mantle and gills aside to expose the gonad. An incision is then made into the gonad near the foot, or even sometimes on the foot (Fig. 1.5). A nucleus of particular size (selected by the technician on the basis of his/her observations) is inserted into the gonad and is followed with a single piece of saibo (Fig. 1.5). (source: Wholesale Pearl)

The region of the mantle which secretes minerals (outer surface) is placed facing the nucleus. This procedure (Fig. 1.5) is known as pearl implantation or seeding or grafting. However, this is just one of several techniques in pearl implantation. Other technique can be started with saibo before nucleus insertion (Taylor & Strack, 2008). After the implantation, oysters are placed back into seawater for further culture. Pearl nuclei used for the implantation are traditionally manufactured from the shells of freshwater mussels belong to family Unionidae (Roberts and Rose, 1989; Sonkar, 2004; Strack, 2006; Ward, 1995; Webster, 1994). (source: Wholesale Pearl)

The number of nuclei implanted into a recipient oyster varies among species. The Japanese pearl oyster, Pinctada fucata can be seeded with multiple nuclei in one implantation period (Alagarswami, 1976), but only one nucleus is seeded into both Pinctada maxima and P. margaritifera per implantation (Gervis & Sims, 1992; Strack, 2006). However, all species can be reseeded after pearl harvest and healthy oysters that produce good quality pearls can be used for a second (and sometimes third) implantation. (source: Wholesale Pearl)

1.4.2.3 Post operation phase and culture condition
After the implantation, oysters are placed into various positions in the sea; based on farm preferences. Some farms place the oysters onto the seabed while others put them into various types of nets or baskets that are hung from a long-line or raft. Farms that place oysters on the seabed are mostly in south Pacific countries that are surrounded with shallow atoll-reef, and several places in northern Australia. Japanese farms usually use baskets to hold oysters which are hung from rafts (Strack, 2006). The rafts are commonly set up in sheltered areas with low wind and wave actions (Southgate, 2008). However, nowadays most farms put the oysters in panel nets, which are hung from long-lines. The hanging method is an improvement of the Japanese system and makes it easier to maintain the oysters (O’Sullivan & Cropp, 1994; Ryan & O’Sullivan, 2001). (source: Wholesale Pearl)

Culture time for round pearl production (time between nucleus implantation and pearl harvest) varies between species. The longer the culture time the thicker the nacre coating on the nucleus will be. Akoya pearls used to be cultured for more than four years but in the mid 1990s the cultured time was reduced to 6 months only (Strack, 2006; Ward, 1995). South Sea pearls are usually harvested between eighteen months to two years after the implantation (Fong et al., 2004; O’Sullivan & Cropp, 1994; Pouvreau & Prasil, 2001; Strack, 2006). Time for culturing freshwater pearls varies between three and five years (Fiske & Shepherd, 2007). Initially the culture time for freshwater pearls is divided into three steps: firstly, a coin bead and a piece of mantle tissue are inserted to the mantle of a recipient mussel for one year; secondly, the resulting pearl is harvested and the mussel is placed back into the water to grow a keshi for another one year; and finally, the keshi is harvested and replaced by a round bead which produces a round pearl after a further one to two years (Fiske & Shepherd, 2007). From this method the farmer may have three types of pearls within five years period: flat (coin pearls), keshi and round pearls. (source: Wholesale Pearl)

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(source: Wholesale Pearl)

1.4.3 Non-nucleated cultured pearls
A type of non-nucleated cultured pearl is called the ‘keshi’. The term keshi originated from Japanese language to describe something very small (Strack, 2006). In the pearl industry this term was adopted for small unplanned pearls that result accidentally from attempts at nucleated cultured pearl production (George, 1967; Strack, 2006). In this case, the nucleus is expelled by the recipient oyster, which retains the mantle tissue only. However, this term is also sometimes used for small pearls produced naturally by molluscs. Another type of non- nucleated cultured pearl is commonly produced from freshwater mussels when a piece of mantle tissue is the main source to produce pearl. The tissue is usually inserted into the mantle of a recipient mussel and goes on to generate a pearl. This is the traditional method for cultured freshwater pearl production which has now been modified by producing round pearls from re-operating the same recipient with nuclei (Fiske & Shepherd, 2007; Ward, 1995). Using the former method, one freshwater mussel can produce up to 50 pearls in one implantation period (Strack, 2006). (source: Wholesale Pearl)

Article source: Mamangkey, Noldy (2009) Improving the quality of pearls from Pinctada maxima. PhD thesis, James Cook University. (source: Wholesale Pearl)
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Pearl: history and origin

Pearl: history and origin

1.3.1 Natural pearls

Indonesia south sea pearls (Lombok Pearls)
Indonesia south sea pearls (Lombok Pearls)

Natural pearls were first discovered accidentally when human searched for food along the coastline and in lakes and rivers in prehistoric time (Dakin, 1913; Kunz & Stevenson, 1908; Strack, 2006; Ward, 1995). Pearls subsequently became parts of the rituals associated with cultural and religious activities (Strack, 2006).

wholesale pearlsThe shells of pearl bearing species or mother of pearl (MOP) has also been utilised for decoration throughout human history. MOP inlays were used around 4500 BC in Mesopotamia and around 4000 BC in Egypt (Strack, 2006; Ward, 1995). The use of pearls for decoration was assumed to have begun in the 5th Century BC during the Persian invasion (Kunz & Stevenson, 1908) where possibly the oldest necklace containing pearls was found in a sarcophagus at the Winter Palace of the Persian kings in Susa (Strack, 2006).

During the Roman Era pearls became the most valuable gems (Ward, 1995). The ‘Pearl Age’ began in the 16th century. Although there was a shift from pearls to diamonds in the 18th century, pearls regained their top position in the nineteenth century when new pearl oyster beds were discovered and cultured pearl production began (Strack, 2006).

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Many believe that natural pearls are formed as a reaction to an irritant in the internal part of a mollusc (Kunz & Stevenson, 1908; Strack, 2006; Streeter, 1886; Ward, 1995). The irritant may be a trapped parasites, small particles, or mantle scratches due to friction or predator damage (Strack, 2006; Ward, 1995). However, pearls will not be formed without the existence of epithelial cells from the nacre secreting mantle tissue (Simkiss & Wada, 1980). Therefore, for a pearl to form the irritant (other than mantle epithelium) must be associated with some epithelial mantle (Strack, 2006). The epithelial cells begin to proliferate and form a ‘pearl-sac’ to cover the irritant (Taylor & Strack, 2008). The pearl-sac then begins to deposit minerals (nacre) as a kind of internal defence mechanism (Dakin, 1913; Kunz & Stevenson, 1908). Such deposition continues and the resulting pearl grows. The shape of the irritant is usually irregular and this irregularity causes pearls to grow asymmetrically in shape (baroque type). This type of pearl is common in natural pearls (Strack, 2006).

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Other types of natural pearls may also be formed on the internal surface of the shell. They are called blisters (Taylor & Strack, 2008). The formation of natural blisters results from the reaction of the host to organisms that penetrate the shells or any material trapped between mantle and the shell (Kunz & Stevenson, 1908). The penetration is mainly caused by boring sponges, Cliona spp. (Fromont et al., 2005), boring polychaetes, Polydora spp. (Alagarswami and Chellam, 1976; Okoshi and Sato-Okoshi, 1996) and several lithopagan bivalves (Doroudi, 1994; Takemura and Okutani, 1956). Borers are usually categorised as pests in the cultured pearl industry because they may kill the oysters (Che et al., 1996; Humphrey, 2008; Humphrey & Norton, 2005; Jones, 2007). In response to shell penetration, the host begins to secrete nacreous material to cover the resulting damage or irritation on the inside of the shell. This process results eventually in the production of a blister (Taylor & Strack, 2008).

Natural pearls are very rare and occur in approximately one in a thousands oysters (Haws, 2002). However, the frequency with which natural pearl occurs varies according to species and the region in which they are found. In the nineteenth century one high-valued pearl could be found at a ratio of 500:1 in the Persian Gulf, 5000:1 in the Sulu Sea, 15.000:1 in French Polynesia, and 1.000.000:1 in the Gulf of Manaar, Ceylon (Strack, 2006). Obtaining such pearls is usually costly. Pearl divers are susceptible to accidents and shark attacks (Joyce & Addison, 1992; Kunz & Stevenson, 1908). Such conditions made pearls in 19th and 20th century among the most expensive gems which were restricted to the rich and to noblemen in particular (Dakin, 1913; Ward, 1995).

Before the early 20th Century, there were several places with large beds of oysters and mussels that supported a pearl fishery. In the marine environment, large pearl oyster beds stretched from Arabian waters to the Pacific and there were smaller, patchy distributions in Central America (Kunz & Stevenson, 1908). Pinctada radiata1 (synonym P. imbricata1) were abundant in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Manaar (Sri Lanka), P. fucata1(synonym P. martensii1) in Japanese waters, P. mazatlanica in Pacific Central America, P. margaritifera in the south Pacific and P. maxima in the tropical central Indo-Pacific region (Strack, 2006). Particular regions like the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Manaar and northern Australia were famous for their natural pearl fisheries.
In freshwater, smaller scale pearl fisheries were mainly distributed in the northern hemisphere with Margaritifera margaritifera being the main species. However, nowadays freshwater pearl mussel beds in Europe have been depleted and are being conserved (Bauer,1 There is some confusion over the taxonomic status of these taxa (Wada and Tëmkin, 2008). 1988; Beasley & Roberts, 1996; Cosgrove et al., 2000; Cosgrove & Hastie, 2001; Young, 1991).

1.3.2 Cultured pearls

indonesia south sea pearls cultivation
Indonesia south sea pearls cultivation

Valuable pearls are usually produced from molluscs that have a nacreous lining (MOP) to the inner surface of their shells (Webster, 1994). These molluscs are selected for pearl production. For cultured marine pearls, the commonly cultured species are from the family Pteriidae: Pinctada maxima, P. margaritifera, P. fucata and Pteria penguin (Gervis & Sims, 1992; Southgate et al., 2008b). Marine pearls are cultivated mainly in the Indo-Pacific region; from the Red Sea to the Pacific Ocean (Bondad-Reantaso et al., 2007; Strack, 2006). Japan is famed for Akoya cultured pearls produced by Pinctada fucata; Indonesia and Australia lead ‘South Sea’ pearl production from P. maxima and the Pacific island countries produce ‘Tahitian’ cultured pearls from P. margaritifera (Southgate, 2007).

The first innovation towards cultured pearl production was introduced by the Chinese in the 5th Century who produced blister pearls in the shape of Buddha (Joyce & Addison, 1992). This was carried out using freshwater mussels. More than a thousand years later in Europe, Linneaus conducted experiments by creating a hole in the shells of the river mussels, Unio pictorum, into which he put a limestone nucleus attached to a wire in the shell (Strack, 2006). He then left the mussels in the water for five years, however, the resulting pearls were of very poor quality (Joyce & Addison, 1992). Several attempts to produce pearls were conducted by William Saville-Kent on Pinctada maxima in 1890, followed by Kokichi Mikimoto three years later on hemispherical pearls (George, 1996; Simkiss & Wada, 1980). In 1914, Mikimoto applied for a patent for producing round cultured pearls (George, 1967) and he received it two years later (Ward, 1995). This modern method of culturing round pearl production utilised a nucleus wrapped within a piece of mantle tissue, which was implanted into the gonad of a recipient oyster. This method was actually invented by Saville-Kent and adopted by Tatsuhei Mise and Tokichi Nishikawa, but Mikimoto claimed the patent (George, 1996; Matlins, 2002). The method was subsequently applied commercially in 1919 (Simkiss & Wada, 1980; Taylor & Strack, 2008).

Article source: Mamangkey, Noldy (2009) Improving the quality of pearls from Pinctada maxima. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Pinctada maxima

Pinctada maxima

Indonesia south sea pearls (Lombok Pearls)
Indonesia south sea pearls (Lombok Pearls)

1.2.1 Taxonomic position and distribution
wholesale pearlsPinctada maxima was recorded for the first time in northern Australian waters (Dakin, 1913). They are commonly called the silver-lipped or gold-lipped pearl oyster and produce the famous South Sea pearls (SSP)(O’Sullivan, 1992). It is the largest species in the genus Pinctada (Dakin, 1913; Hynd, 1955; Shirai, 1994; Xie, 1990) and it produces the largest and finest pearls (Kunz & Stevenson, 1908). Shell size may reach more than 30 centimetres and individuals may live for up to 40 years (Strack, 2006). Both Pinctada maxima (Jameson, 1901) and P. margaritifera (Linnaeus, 1758) are closely related species (He et al., 2005) and share the same position as the most primitive species within the genus Pinctada (Yu and Chu, 2006). P. maxima is distributed from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific and from the tropic of Cancer to the tropic of Capricorn (Wada & Tëmkin, 2008)(Fig. 1.1). They are found in depths of up to 90 metres although their optimal habitat is at about 35 metres (Strack, 2006).

Fig 1.1. Geographical distribution of Pinctada maxima (Wada & Tëmkin, 2008). The taxonomic position of Pinctada maxima is shown below:
Phyllum Mollusca >> Class Bivalvia >> Order Pterioida >> Family Pteriidae >> Genus Pinctada Röding, 1798 >> Species Pinctada maxima (Jameson, 1901)

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1.2.2 Morphology and anatomy
The anatomy of Pinctada maxima described below relates to organs and structures that have importance to pearl production and therefore to the research conducted in this study. Like other members of genus Pinctada, P. maxima has nearly equivalve shells with less projecting posterior ‘wing’, compared to the genus Pteria, and concentric lines. Small projecting scales may also occur on the external surfaces of shells, particularly in young individuals (Lamprell & Healy, 1997). Colour bands of gold or silver occur in distal region of the nacreous part of the inner shell (Fig. 1.2).

Fig. 1.2. The inner surface of two valves of Pinctada maxima from different individuals representing gold lip pearl oyster (left) and silver-lip pearl oyster (right); arrows indicate lip colour.

Fig. 1.3. A pair of valves of Pinctada maxima showing shell morphology and orientation; ae, anterior ear (auricle); am, adductor muscle scar; bn, byssal notch; li, ligament; ms, pallial muscle scar; nb, nacre border; nl, nacre layer (mother of pearl=MOP); pl, prismatic layer, and um, umbo.

1.2.2.1. The shell
Like other bivalves, Pinctada maxima posses a pair of valves (Fig. 1.3). Both valves are attached with a ligament in the dorsal hinge region. There are no hinge teeth (Strack, 2006). The right valve is usually flatter than the left valve. Each shell valve is composed of three layers: (1) the outer layer is the periostracum or conchiolin layer; (2) the middle layer is the ostracum or prismatic layer; and (3) the inner layer is the hypostracum or nacre (mother of pearl) layer (Fougerouse et al., 2008). The periostracum may help reduce biofouling on the outer shell surface (De Nys & Ison, 2008; Guenther et al., 2006). Unlike the periostracum which is formed mainly from proteins, the prismatic and nacreous layers are composed of different forms of calcium carbonate. The prismatic layer is composed of calcite crystals, while the nacreous layer is built from aragonite. These structures are embedded within an organic matrix framework (Addadi et al., 2006; Bedouet et al., 2001; Checa and Rodriguez- Navarro, 2005; Matsushiro and Miyashita, 2004) composed mainly of protein (Matsushiro et al., 2003).

indonesia south sea pearls cultivation
Indonesia south sea pearls cultivation

1.2.2.2 The mantle
The molluscan mantle (Fig. 1.4) has many functions. Besides protecting internal organs, the mantle has also roles in assimilation, respiration, locomotion and reproduction (Simkiss, 1988). In relation to shell formation, the mantle is responsible for producing ions and minerals used in the biomineralisation process (Blank et al., 2003). The bivalve mantle consists of two lobes of tissue that line the inner surfaces of both shell valves. As in bivalves, each mantle lobe in P. maxima can be divided into three zones: the marginal, pallial and central zones (Dix, 1973; Humphrey & Norton, 2005). The central zone covers the soft tissue, the pallial zone is composed primarily of muscular threads used in mantle retraction, while the outer marginal zone splits into three folds: the outer, middle and inner folds, each with specific roles (Fougerouse et al., 2008). Tissue from the pallial zone is used in the cultured pearl production process (Acosta-Salmón, 2004).
Mantle Gill , Adductor Muscle, Gonad, Auricle, Byssal gland Foot
Fig.1.4. Internal anatomy of Pinctada maxima (Jameson)

1.2.2.3 The gonad
The gonad (Fig. 1.4) has an important role in cultured pearl production as it is used as the organ that receives the nucleus and nacre secreting tissue implant (‘saibo’) required for pearl production (Taylor & Strack, 2008). The ripe gonad of male P. maxima is milky white but it is creamy yellow for females. When fully ripe the gonad may occupy one-third of the internal space of the oyster. However, pearl oysters with full gonads are not used for pearl production because space is required to house the nucleus and tissue implant. Because of this, the implantation for cultured pearl production takes place after the spawning period or following a conditioning period, which empties the gonad (see Section 1.4.2.1). Changes in water temperature are the main factor in inducing spawning of pearl oysters in nature (Behzadi et al., 1997; Hernandez-Olalde et al., 2007; Saucedo et al., 2002a; Saucedo & Southgate, 2008).

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Article source: Mamangkey, Noldy (2009) Improving the quality of pearls from Pinctada maxima. PhD thesis, James Cook University.
south sea pearls wholesaleFor Questions and answer you can contact & chat with us on:

  • Phone : +6287865026222
  • Facebook Massager click below :
  •  facebook.com/mutiaralomboktourpearlwholesale
  • Twitter : @abdurrachim
  • WhatsApp : +6287865026222
  • Email to: abdurrachim@gmail.com
  • Telegram id : mutiarapearl
  • LINE id : chatinmyline
  • wechat id: chatwechat

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We send your purchasing parcel via FedEx, we inform you the tracking number as soon as possible

We send your purchasing parcel via FedEx, we inform you the tracking number as soon as possible

abdurrachim pearl fedex
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This is my name, my phone number and my address, as a sender (written by FedEx)
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We send your purchasing parcel via FedEx, we inform you the tracking number as soon as possible
We send your purchasing parcel via FedEx, we inform you the tracking number as soon as possible

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