A.What is a pearl made of and how is it formed?
True pearls only develop from two forms; one is the “natural” pearl also known as an Oriental pearl. The other is the “cultured” pearl and is clearly the most common and most affordable. To form a cultured pearl an irritant such as a piece of tissue or a mother-of-pearl bead is introduced or nucleated into the oyster/mollusk. The mollusk will coat this item with numerous layers of a secretion known as nacre, which will eventually form a resplendent pearl. While the natural pearl forms from nature as an irritant which is most likely a parasite somehow finds its way through the oysters shell and into the Oyster itself, the cultured pearl on the other hand is formed by surgically implanting a small bead or piece of freshwater tissue into the oyster. This is a form of artificial implantation. Both means of pearl formation result in superior, lustrous circular-in-shape pearls. However Natural pearls are simply quite rare and beyond most consumers means. This resulted in the formation of the Cultured Pearl industry.
Imitation pearls are not gemstones. They are simply made of ceramic, shell, glass or even plastic. These are simply man-made beads. There is a true difference with imitation pearls as there is no presence of a mollusk to provide the natural generated nacre layers. Imitation Pearls must be marketed in the United States under descriptive names such as artificial, man-made or faux. Sometimes regional names are used like Laguna pearls, Red Sea pearls and Mallorca pearls. These pearl “Mallorca” imitations normally look flawless as most man made objects are in fact flawless. Only Natural or Cultured pearls can give you the true uniqueness that pearls create.
How do you determine if you have a real pearl? Simply scrape the pearl gently across your teeth. If it feels smooth, then it is an imitation. If it feels gritty then it is real. This is due to the nature of the nacre.
As the natural pearl is quite rare today and truly expensive, most pearls sold today are in the form of cultured saltwater pearls and freshwater pearls. These all originate in such Far East countries as Japan, China, French Polynesia and Northern Australia.
B.Define the difference between the differing grades of pearls from A, AA and AAA?
Pearl Distributors offers a wide selection of colors, sizes and grades of freshwater and saltwater cultured pearls. The size of the pearls can range from a 6 mm size, to a more traditional size of 7 to 8mm, to a larger, more fashionable size up to 15 to 16mm. Our largest 15mm plus sized Tahitian pearls truly say “Wow” and offer that extra glitz and glamour for those special occasions. Let’s not forget our large beautiful pendant pearls that are over 10mm in size.
Although Pearl Distributors do not carry this low of a grade of pearl we will point out that an “A” Grade will have fair luster with some irregularity in the spherical shape. As the marks on the surface of the pearl are noticeable but small, these can be seen even with the untrained eye. This lower grade value keeps the price at a reasonable cost. It should be pointed out that most traditional Jewelry retailers do not advertise the grade of the pearls they sell. Therefore, you may be looking at an “A” grade pearl. You may want to do some research before committing to such a purchase.
Grade AA and AA+
These grades (AA and AA+) of pearls are quite superior to the Grade A pearl because the shape will be much closer to a spherical shape while the luster is still excellent. Any imperfections on the surface of the pearl will be insignificant, which makes this quality of pearl one of our most popular. Our AA+ Pearls come from the top 5% of the annual pearl harvest. They are 90% clean or blemish free with a near round shape and a luster of at least AA+ to the highest of AAA.
The AAA grade pearl has a brilliant shine and superior luster and orient when compared to our grade AA+ pearls. The shape of the pearl is near perfection as they are visibly round with the matching of pearls in pearl necklaces or bracelets that are extremely consistent. The near lack of surface imperfections (95% inclusion free) is barely noticeable even in the lighter colors and white pearls. These are selected from the top 1% of the annual harvest. Our AAA Pearls are simply the very best on the Market. Guaranteed!
Don’t be Fooled!
Don’t be fooled by expensive claims like “Collectors Quality”, ” AAA+ or even “AAAA” as these are simple marketing techniques used to artificially inflate prices. Look for Grading systems that follow the established “Mikimoto” Grading System. If in doubt purchase a strand from Pearl Distributors and one from our competition for comparison purposes. Simply return the inferior one within the guarantee period. We are so convinced that our quality is superior that we regularly promote this bold practice. You will not be disappointed… you have our word on it!
C.How do I care for my pearl jewelry investment?
- The nacre on your pearls is very sensitive to abuse so at Pearl Distributors we recommend the following care tips:
- All pearl jewelry should be worn as often as possible as the natural luster of the finish will be embellished with the natural oils of the skin.
- The pearl jewelry needs a protection from other sharp jewelry and gold, so we recommend they be stored separately in a soft storage bag.
- As the pearls are very delicate, they should only be cleaned on occasion with a soft, damp cloth and a mild solution of mild liquid soap. The use of vinegar, ammonia, any chlorine products or lemon juice or other acidic compound is not recommended.
- Pearls do no take well to the application of perfume, cosmetics, or hair spray. We suggest you add your pearl jewelry as a final touch to your ensemble to ensure they are not damaged by these products.
- All pearl necklaces and bracelets can show wear and tear after extensively being worn; therefore we recommend you take your pearl jewelry in regularly for an inspection.