About Pearls

Origin of Pearls

Pearls are formed by sea mussels (oysters), some freshwater mussels and occasionally, by some snails. When an irritant, such as a grain of sand, intrudes into the shell of the mussel and the mantle, or the interior of the mantle, the mussel coats the irritant with layers of the same substance that is used to create the shell. Mother-of-pearl (nacre) which is mainly calcium carbonate and an organic horn substance (conchiolin) builds up to create the beautiful pearl.

Natural Pearls

Genuine or natural pearls are pearls that come into being in nature, without human intervention. This can occur both in the ocean and in fresh water. It is very rare to find natural pearls for sale.

Cultured Pearls

Pearl culturing is a simple process. Humans insert a foreign body into a mollusk, which encourages the mollusk to create a pearl. To stimulate the mollusks to produce large round pearls, round mother-of-pearl beads from the shell of a North American freshwater mussel are inserted into the oysters (mussels). There are three main types of cultured pearls available today. South Sea pearls, which are produced mainly in Australia, are formed in a very large oyster called the Pinctata Maxima, to produce very large, lustrous white and golden pearls. Tahitian South Sea pearls are formed in a black lip oyster that creates pearls in shades of silvery grey to black, with iridescent colours and undertones. Freshwater pearls come from the freshwater pearl mussel, which lives in fresh water, as the name implies. These mussels are able to create multiple pearls in one shell, producing smaller pearls, often with pink or apricot tones.

Caring for your Pearls

To keep your pearls looking wonderful, we suggest that you...

  • Treat your pearls gently.
  • Never expose your pearls to hair sprays, cosmetics or perfumes. Spray these on before you put on your pearls.
  • Don’t wear your pearls while bathing, in the shower or while playing sport
  • Never sleep with your pearls on.
  • Never clean your pearls with harsh chemicals or abrasives.
  • Place your pearls in a chamois, silk or cotton bag before putting them away.
  • Restring your strand of pearls once a year, or, if your wear your pearls constantly, even as often as every three months.
  • Pearl strands are best strung with a knot between each pearl, to prevent the pearls from rubbing against each other, and stop all of your pearls falling off if your strand happens to break.