A pearl is a beautiful thing: lustrous, natural, perfect in it's own organic way. But do you know the how and why of pearls? We've added some new pearl designs, so why not chat them up a bit?
Until the late 1800's, pearls were an oddity. They were an extremely rare find, and round pearls were even more unusual.
In 1905, the pearl universe shifted. The father of modern cultured pearls is Kokichi Mikimoto. He produced the world's first cultured spherical pearl by inventing a technique to insert a bit of shell into the body of an oyster. The shell causes irritation and the oyster secretes a coating called nacre around the nucleus.
Depending on how long the oyster is left to produce nacre, pearls can vary in size from 2mm to more than 12mm. Typically, the seed is left in the oyster for four years to create the proper size and appearance. Quality is determined by color, lustre, smoothness, roundness and size.
Today, most pearls are freshwater pearls. China has become the major exporter of pearls of all shapes, sizes and colors. As a result of their industrialization and sheer volume of production, pearl prices have declined dramatically over the past 10 years.
The most expensive pearls on the market today are South Seas varieties in black, grey and peacock.