|Pearls can be saltwater, freshwater, or faux (as in imitation or fake).|
Natural pearls are either freshwater or saltwater. The names themselves are telling of where they grow. Pearls are created as a reaction to the presence of a foreign object such as a grain of sand that causes irritation inside of a living mollusk or oyster. Nacre is secreted within the shell and forms around the irritant. This process creates a natural pearl.
Saltwater pearls are generally more expensive than freshwater pearls because of the time it takes for them to form. A saltwater pearl may take between 5 and 20 years to form; whereas, a freshwater pearl can form between 1 and 6 years. Cultured pearls injected with beads are commonly harvested after one year for Akoya, 2 to 4 years for Tahitian and South Sea, and 2 to 7 years for freshwater pearls.
Below is some freshwater pearl jewelry ranging from $150 to $425. Can you guess the prices?
Faux or imitation pearls are created using materials such as shell, plastic, resin, and glass. Imitation pearls are sometimes referred to as “man made” or “stimulated.” Imitation pearls are so smooth that they are unrealistically perfect.
|Do you think these are natural or imitation pearls?|
Natural pearls are gritty. In the U.S., the FTC sets how imitation pearls must be worded for sale:
- Pearls are primarily composed of calcium carbonate so they dissolve in vinegar
- Real pearls maintain luster and may look better with age
- Fake pearls lose their luster
- Real pearls are heavier than fake ones
- Gem labs distinguish natural pearls from cultured ones via X-rays to examine the center growth rings of a pearl
- The basic pearl shapes are: baroque, button, circled, drop, oval, pear, round, and semi-round.
I tend to prefer diamonds over pearls but since my work wardrobe is classic and conservative I am interested in growing my collection of pearls.