TYPES OF PEARL
- From the way it is formed, we can group pearl into three categories: natural pearls, cultured pearls and imitation pearls.
- Before the depletion of natural pearl beds, about a century ago, all pearls that were discovered were natural pearls.
- Today natural pearls are very rare, and are often sold at auctions in New York, London and other international venues at investment prices.
- Natural pearls are, by definition, all types of pearls formed by accident, without human intervention. They are the product of chance, with a beginning that is an irritant such as a burrowing parasite.
- The chance of this natural occurrence is very slim as it depends on unwelcome entry of foreign material that the oyster is unable to expel from its body.
- A cultured pearl undergoes the same process. In case of natural pearl, the oyster is working alone, whereas cultured pearls are the products of human intervention.
- To induce the oyster to produce pearl, a technician purposely implants the irritant inside the oyster.
- The material that is surgically implanted is a piece of shell called Mother of Pearl. This technique was found and developed by a Japanese inventor, Kokichi Mikimoto, who patented the technique in 1916.
- Imitation pearls are a different story altogether. In most cases, a glass bead is dipped into a solution made from fish scales.
- This coating is thin and may eventually wear off. One can usually tell an imitation by biting on it.
- Fake pearls glide across your teeth, while the layers of nacre on real pearls feel gritty.
- The Island of Mallorca in Spain is known for its imitation pearl industry.
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