The Journey of a Pearl - From Speck to Spectacular

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    Dec 21, 2012
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Pearls. These timeless gems are icons of classic beauty and sophistication. While a strand of pearls evokes feelings of simple elegance, the journey of a pearl from the moment it starts off as a tiny speck to the time it’s taken out from behind a jewelry counter and handed to a customer captivated with its beauty is anything but a simple one.

There are two types of genuine pearls—natural and cultured. Natural pearls occur in the wild when a speck of organic matter gets into an oyster. The oyster forms a small sac around the intruder and over time covers it in layers of nacre, a substance that builds up to form the pearl. Natural pearls are very rare, occurring in less than 1% of mollusks. Cultured pearls form in a very similar matter, but the initial irritant that begins the process is purposefully implanted.

Cultured akoya pearls come in a spectrum of hues. While some manufacturers achieve variety through a dyeing process, the required chemicals damage the pearls structural integrity, which diminishes luster. High quality come from a more organic process. Different oysters produce different colored pearls. Akoya pearls grow in shades of cream, pink, blue, and silver inside Japanese Akoya Oysters. Black-lipped Oysters produce charcoal, green, and silver Tahitian Black Pearls.  South Sea Pearls in shades of gold and white and are harvested from Silver-lipped Oysters. The specific color depends on factors like the location of the irritant’s implantation, depth, temperature, and minerals present in the water.

They range in size from 7mm to 20 mm, depending on the type of pearl and the way it is cultured. For example, Akoya pearls are grown between 20˚C and 25 ˚C. At warmer temperatures, oysters quickly produce thick layers of nacre, which results in large but dull pearls. At cooler temperatures, oysters slowly produce thin layers of nacre, creating small pearls with great color and luster. To harvest large akoya pearls with the best optical properties, experienced farmers grow them in warm water and switch to cooler water towards the end of the culturing process.

Oysters must be closely monitored to ensure a beautiful pearl. Fully grown pearls are checked for quality, cleaned, and sorted by size and hue. They are used in various types of jewelry, including earrings, bracelets, brooches, rings, and necklaces. Akoya strands are very popular, especially ones made from cream colored pearls. They come in a variety of lengths, from the classic princess necklace to the elegant opera necklace, which dips below the bust line. Akoya pearl strands are extremely versatile accessories that are great for everything from sprucing up jeans and a t-shirt to complementing a formal evening gown.

While the process of harvesting is complex and lengthy, expertly grown pearls are worth the wait. These timeless gems can last a lifetime and make spectacular heirlooms to pass down to loved ones.

Author's Profile

Established in 2009, Masato Pearls is a privately owned jewelry wholesaler offering fine pearl jewelry. Masato Pearls' Tahitian, South Sea, and Japanese Akoya pearls rate in the top 3% of all pearls produced in the world. Browse through our online collection at

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