Summertime is here, bringing more FUN summer memories!
June often signals new beginnings like graduation...pearls, weddings...pearls, vacations to exotic destinations...pearls, Father’s day...pearls..? Well, maybe not in recent times but historically pearls were reserved to be worn by kings and their queens. Pearl is the traditional birthstone for June. Happy Birthday...pearls?
Rarely formed spontaneously, pearls consist of calcium rich coatings called nacre, pronounced “nay-ker.” Besides “natural pearls” there are many pearls which are cultured with the help of mollusks, mussels, oysters and clams. The Cultured Pearl Association of America, Inc. website is a wealth of information ( www.cpaa.org). Here are some brief descriptions of several varieties.
South Sea Pearls
Cultivated primarily in Australia, Myanmar, Indonesia and the islands of the South Pacific, South Sea pearls tend to be both the largest and the rarest of pearls. Requiring more space and time to develop in a delicate balance of man and nature, South Sea pearls tend to be among the most expensive of pearls, commanding high prices for quality specimens. Their most common colors are white, silver, and gold.
Akoya pearls are the classic cultured pearls originally developed in Japan by Mikimoto. They are the most lustrous of all pearls found anywhere in the world because they are grown slowly in cold ocean waters. The Akoya pearl is either white or cream in body color and can have yellow, pink or blue hues. The best ones are perfectly round and crisply reflect overhead lighting. Larger is obviously better, this is Texas after all! Usually only one Akoya pearl is harvested per oys- ter vs. freshwater pearls that harvest several together. These pearls average be- tween 2-10 millimeters in size.
Black Tahitian pearls are produced primarily in the waters of French Polynesia where they are worn by warriors and women. These pearls range on average from about 8 -12 millimeters in diameter ( half inch). Larger sizes are consider- ably rare. Colors can be light silver, gray, yellow bronze, green with a pink over- tone and iridescent dark peacock.
Pearl farming in fresh waters like lakes or rivers is much more efficient and the warmer waters allow for faster growth of the pearls. Originally white in color, this pearl is often dyed to create a wide variety of fun colors including true black. Technological advancements have made these the most affordable cultured pearls on the market today, shifting world demand by rivaling the quality of all other types of pearls. Fresh water pearls offer buyers a variety of shapes and sizes as well