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Glossary of Pearl Terms S

Glossary of Pearl Terms S

saltwater pearl: Natural or cultured pearl produced by a saltwater mollusk.

sand pearls: One of four Saxony quality factors used to describe natural German river pearls; sand pearls are of low quality. Also see: light pearls (highest quality), half-light pearls (high quality), and rotten pearls (lowest quality).

sautoir: Pearl strand longer than 36 inches (90 cm).

Saxon pearl necklace: Necklace created from natural freshwater pearls found in the Vogtland (Germany) between 1719 to 1912.

scallop pearl: Non-nacreous pearl produced by any mollusk of the Pectinidae (scallop) family.

Scottish pearl: Natural freshwater pearl from Margaritifera margaritifera found in Scotland.

seabed system: Method of farming South Sea pearls in which Pinctada maxima mollusks are placed in baskets or panels secured to posts on the sea floor. The method is still used today in northwestern Australia but was most popular in the first decades of pearl farming there.

second-generation cultured pearl: Freshwater or saltwater cultured pearl whose growth is started either by implanting a shell bead nucleus in an existing pearl sac from which a first-generation cultured pearl was removed, or by letting the mollusk grow a beadless cultured pearl in an existing pearl sac from which a first-generation cultured pearl was removed.

second grafts: Cultured pearls grown in existing pearl sacs after the first harvest; same as second-generation cultured pearl. The term is misleading because there is no tissue graft involved.

seed pearl: Natural pearl less than 2 mm in diameter.

semi-baroque pearl: Off-round, asymmetrical pearl but not quite as irregular as a baroque pearl.

semi-round pearl: Off-round pearl having a symmetrical shape or a slight deviation of symmetry. To be semi-round, a pearl?s diameters must vary by more than 2 percent. Also called near-round.

shell pearl: Imitation pearl made from a mollusk shell.

shinju: Japanese word for pearl.

shireen: Historical Persian quality factor describing natural pearls of very high luster and excellent shape.

shiro-gai: Japanese term for white shell. It typically refers to Pinctada martensi, which has a strikingly white inner shell layer that produces very white pearls.

sijni: Historical Persian quality factor describing natural pear-shaped pearls.

silver-lip mollusk: Pinctada maxima mollusk that has silver rather than gold inner shell edges; used to culture South Sea pearls.

silver nitrate: Dye used to darken cultured pearls. The compound turns black when exposed to light.

simpatico: A term that describes the relationship, interaction between a person’s skin and the differing types; colors/overtones/orient of pearl(s). A specific pearl(s) that interacts with the skin in a positive way and flatters the wearer can be said to be simpatico with that person.

sindaali: Historical Persian quality factor describing a natural, flesh-colored pearl.

sinjabaasi: Historical Persian quality factor describing natural pearls of the finest black color.

slug: Several pearls fused together so they resemble a slug.

sofri: Historical Persian quality factor describing natural pearls of a yellow color.

souffle pearls: Trade name for Chinese freshwater pearls grown with a removable, earthen substance as a nucleus, creating hollow pearls.

South Sea pearl: Natural or cultured pearl produced by the Pinctada maxima mollusk.

Southern Cross, The: Cross-shaped group of natural pearls found on the Australian west coast in 1874. A vertical line of seven pearls measuring 3.8 cm had a single pearl attached to each side so the group formed a cross. It?s now believed the arms were glued on. It was named for the celestial constellation that is visible only in the Southern Hemisphere.

spat: Saltwater mollusk larva old enough to attach itself to a fixed surface.

Strombus gigas: Queen conch.

surface: One of the quality factors considered when grading a natural or cultured pearl.

sweet water pearls: Trade term for freshwater pearls.

symmetrical pearl: Exactly the same shape on both sides of a central axis.

synthetic pearl: Artificially grown pearl.

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Glossary of Pearl Terms R

Glossary of Pearl Terms R

radial structure: Calcite or aragonite crystals of a pearl?s prismatic layer are arranged in a pattern so they radiate like rays of sunlight from a central core. In a cross-section view, the crystals stand on end rather than lie flat as in the nacre layer.

rainbow pearl: From Pinctada mazatlanica but exhibits colors like pearls from the black-lip mollusk (Pinctada margaritifera).

rakes: Used to collect wild freshwater mussels by dragging across the beds of rivers, lakes and ponds.

Raman spectroscopy: Laboratory method of testing cultured pearls for presence of silver nitrate, which is a pearl dyeing agent.

rati: Historical Indian weight unit used to valuate pearls, equal to 0.91 carats. Also called a poonak.

red tide: Profuse hyperproduction of algae, called an algal bloom. It weakens or kills pearl-bearing mollusks by consuming most or all of the dissolved oxygen in the water and/or poisoning them when the algae die and putrefy. It?s not a true tide, and it?s not always red.

Red Sea cultured pearl: Cultured pearl produced in the local black-lip (Pinctada margaritifera) mollusk in the Red Sea.

refractive index: Measure of the degree that light bends when it moves from one medium to another, for example, from air into nacre. The refractive index of natural and cultured pearls is 1.51 to 1.66.

R?gente, La: Egg-shaped natural pearl weighing 302.68 grains (75.67 carats).

Reine des Perles, La: Round natural pearl from the French crown jewels. It weighs 110 grains (27.5 carats).

rice krispies: Chinese freshwater pearls that often have a textured surface and look like puffed rice kernels. They take their name from the American breakfast cereal Rice Krispies, called Rice Bubbles in Australia. The pearls were cultured in the cockscomb mussel (Cristaria plicata) and first appeared on the international market about 1970.

Roman pearls: Imitation pearls also known as ?alabaster pearls.?

rope: Pearl strand measuring more than 45 inches (115 cm).

rotten: One of four Saxony quality factors used to describe natural German river pearls, rotten being the lowest quality. Also see: light (highest quality), half-light (high quality), and sand (low quality).

round: Perfectly round pearl, or one with diameters that don?t vary by more than 2 percent.

royal gem pearl: Imitation pearl produced from the lens of a fish eye.

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Glossary of Pearl Terms Q

Glossary of Pearl Terms Q

quahog: Saltwater bivalve mollusk (Mercenaria mercenaria) also known as the cherrystone clam.

quahog pearl: Small, often violet natural pearl with a porcelaneous surface produced by the quahog mollusk.

Quality Assurance Tag: Introduced by JPEA in 1999 as a voluntary quality-control system, the tag is attached to temporary cultured pearl strands before export to indicate they have met minimum quality standards.

quality factors: Characteristics of natural or cultured pearls used to establish their value.

queen conch: Gastropod (Strombus gigas) that produces natural non-nacreous pearls known as conch pearls.

queen?s necklace: Pearl necklace measuring 31.5 inches (80 cm).

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Glossary of Pearl Terms P

Glossary of Pearl Terms P

PAPPE: Philippine Association of Pearl Producers and Exporters.

paraffin: Wax often used to fill the cavity of cultured and imitation blister pearls.

parasite theory: Natural pearl growth theory suggesting that parasitic invasion of a mollusk?s shell, typically by a boring worm, catalyzes natural pearl production. Postulated in the mid-19th century, it was the first theory that countered the legend that a grain of sand stimulated natural pearl production.

Paspaley, Nicholas: Founder of Australia?s largest South Sea cultured pearl production and marketing company.

peacock: Color most often associated with pearls produced by the black-lip (Pinctada margaritifera) mollusk. It?s a dark green gray to blue gray with ros? to purple overtones.

pear: Drop pearl shaped like a pear.

pearl: Nacreous or non-nacreous calcareous concretion formed as a progressive secretion naturally and circumstantially within a mollusk.

Pearl Business Act (Shinju Yoshoku Jigyouho): Law passed in 1952 to regulate the cultured pearl industry in Japan.

pearl factory: Business establishment where pearls are processed, often treated, drilled, matched and often strung or paired before sale.

Pearl Federation of the Cook Islands: Association responsible for technical support to Cook Islands pearl farmers and the development of the cultured pearl industry there.

Pearl of Allah: Natural pearl from the giant clam (Tridacna gigas), it is the world?s largest non-nacreous calcareous concretion. It measures 23 cm by 14 cm by 14 cm and weighs 6.37 kilograms. The pearl was found off Brooke?s Point, Palawan Island, in the Philippines on May 7, 1934.

Pearl of Asia: Natural pearl believed to be from the South Sea pearl mollusk (Pinctada maxima) and to be more than 300 years old. It measures 76 mm by 50 mm by 28 mm and weighs 600 carats.

Pearl of Lao Tse: See Pearl of Allah.

pearl eyes: Historical trade term that likely refers to perfectly round pearls.

Pearl of Kuwait: White, drop-shape natural pearl weighing 257.41 grains and measuring 41.27 mm by 19.05 mm.

Pearl of Queens: Pink, 15-mm freshwater pearl weighing 93 grains.

pearl powder: Ground nacre, often used in medicines and cosmetics.

pearl sac: Grown from epithelial cells to envelop an intruder or a bead nucleus, it deposits nacre and forms a natural or cultured pearl.

pearl sieves: Used to sort cultured pearls by size.

peeling: Removing the outer nacre layers of a cultured pearl in the hope of improving its quality.

Pelegrina, La: Two natural pearls of the same name; the first is a perfectly round pearl with brilliant water and weighing 111.5 grains. The second is a drop-shape natural pearl weighing 133.2 grains.

Peregrina, La: Natural drop-shape pearl weighing 203.84 grains taken from a slave on an island in the Gulf of Panama in 1513 by the Spanish conqueror Vasco Nunez de Balboa.

periostracum: Outer layer of a bivalve mollusk shell, formed of conchiolin.

Perles de Tahiti: See GIE Perles de Tahiti.

petals: Freshwater cultured pearls in the shape of leaves or flower petals.

pin pearl: Natural nacreous or non-nacreous pearl produced in mollusks from the Pinna or Atrina genus; often mistakenly called pen pearl.

Pinctada: Mollusk genus in the family Pteriidae. It?s the most important genus in saltwater cultured pearl production.

Pinctada chemnitzi: Native to China and parts of Japan, the pure species and its hybrid with Pinctada fucata martensi are used to produce akoya cultured pearls in those countries.

Pinctada fucata martensi: Historically, the Japanese akoya pearl mollusk. The species is now used there and in China to produce akoya cultured pearls. It is often cross-bred with Pinctada chemnitzi.

Pinctada imbricata: Some researchers say this species name encompasses every mollusk species called “akoya” regardless of geography. As is true elsewhere in taxonomy, other researchers disagree.

Pinctada margaritifera: The black-lip pearl mollusk; the variety Pinctada margaritifera cumingi is used to produce Tahitian and Cook Islands cultured pearls.

Pinctada martensi: Synonym for Pinctada fucata martensi.

Pinctada maxima: The silver-lip or gold-lip pearl mollusk; used to produce South Sea cultured pearls.

Pinctada mazatlanica: Evolved from Pinctada margaritifera, it is native to the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) and the Mexican and Central American Pacific Ocean.

pinking: Coloring treatment most often associated with akoya pearls where pearls are treated with organic “pink” dye creating a light even hue with pink overtones.

Pinna pearl: Natural nacreous or non-nacreous pearl produced in mollusks from the Pinna or Atrina genus; often mistakenly called pen pearl.

pipi pearl: Small, yellowish natural pearl produced by Pinctada maculata.

poe pipi: Polynesian and Maori term for a pearl from the Pinctada maculata mollusk.

poe rava: Tahitian-language term for dark iridescent pearl. Some use the term to describe peacock-color pearls or deeply black pearls.

Poe Rava Nui: See GIE Poe Rava Nui.

polishing: Enhances the luster of natural or cultured pearls.

polymer coating: Synthetic silicone polymer film often applied to lower-quality cultured pearls to enhance their luster.

poonak: Historical Indian weight unit used to valuate pearls, equal to 0.91 carats. It?s also called rati.

potato: Oblong pearl shaped like a potato.

princess necklace: Pearl necklace measuring 17 to 19 inches (43 to 48 cm).

Pteria penguin: Mollusk originally used to produce assembled cultured blister pearls. In Japanese, its name is mabe-gai.

Pteria sterna: Rainbow-lip mollusk used to culture pearls in the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez).

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Glossary of Pearl Terms O

Glossary of Pearl Terms O

Occidental pearls: Historical term used to describe natural pearls from Mexico, dates to the 16th century but fell from usage after 1930.

oil pearls: Imitation pearls worked from the columella (see) of the Trochus and Turbo snails.

oiling: Process of soaking a natural or cultured pearl in warm oil to diminish the visibility of cracks.

opera necklace: Pearl necklace measuring 28 to 35 inches (70-90 cm).

operculum: Shell-like cover that closes the opening of some marine gastropod shells.

Orama Pearls: Trade name for cultured blister pearls sold to tourists on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.

organic dyes: Used to change the color of natural and cultured pearls.

orient: Optical phenomenon that produces iridescent colors on the surface of some natural and cultured pearls. One or more of these factors creates orient: reflection, refraction, diffraction, and thin-film interference.

Oriental pearls: Historical commercial term for natural marine pearls from the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea.

Osmena pearl: Also called Osmend or Osmenda pearl. Imitation pearl worked from the inner coil of the Nautilus pompilius shell.

ostracum: Central, prismatic layer of a bivalve mollusk shell.

ounce pearls: Historical trade term describing small natural pearls offered in lots.

oval: Natural or cultured pearl in an oval or egg shape.

overtone: Secondary color on the surface of a natural or cultured pearl. It is created by nacre layers interfering with white light and splitting it into its component colors.

oyster: Common name correctly applied to some bivalve mollusks and incorrectly to others. No bivalve mollusk that produces nacreous natural or cultured pearls is a true oyster.

oyster pearls: Chalk-like natural pearls produced by edible oysters (Family Ostreidae), low in commercial value.