Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pearls are the Gemstone of the Week

The birthstone for June, Pearl, is the gemstone of the week. This precious gemstone has been used in jewelry and ornamentation for centuries.
Most gemstones are minerals, but Pearls are organic and formed by living organisms. They are formed in the soft tissue layers of mollusks, such as oysters and mussels and begin forming when an irritant such as sand, gets inside the shell. They are made of calcium carbonate and organic conchiolin, that build up as concentric layers . (If you cut a pearl in half, the inside layers would resemble tree rings.)This is done in order to protect the inside of the oyster or mollusk from the irratant. This process can take anywhere from 4 months to 7 years. The longer it takes, the larger the pearl.

There are two basic kinds of Pearls-natural and cultured. Natural pearls occur in nature without assistance from humans and are very rare and because of the rarity, they are very expensive. Cultured pearls are created when humans insert the irritant into the shell. Cultured pearls are grown on pearl farms where they are cared for while the pearl grows. Some pearls are started from an irritant type of nucleus, some, like the Akoya pearl, are formed around a bead nucleus. Only one out of four cultivated mollusks lives to grow a marketable pearl. Since natural pearls are so rare, it is safe to assume that most pearls on the market today are cultured. Pearls are among the softest gemstones on the market. On the Moh scale, they are only 2.5.
The most valuable pearls are perfectly symmetrical, fairly large and naturally produced. They have a shimmering iridescence which is called orient. I've listed a few of the more common terms used for 
pearls. Baroque pearls have an irregular shape. Biwa pearls are from the freshwater lake, Lake Biwa, in Japan and also have an irregular shape. Blister pearls grow attached to the inside of the shell. Freshwater pearls grow in freshwater mollusk and resemble puffed rice. Mabe pearls are cultivated blister pearls. Oriental pearl is another name for saltwater pearl.
Pearls are often enhanced by dyeing. They are very porous and accept dye well. It is the easiest, and least expensive way to get a matched strand. One drawback to this is that the dye can fade over time. They can also be bleached to increase their whiteness. Irradiation darkens the nucleus of the pearl to produce darker pearls like blue gray and black. Most experts believe this to be permanent. Metallic pearl colors are often both dyed and irradiated. As a general rule, all bright or striking pearl colors are dyed or enhanced in some way.
Pearls are found in Japan, China, Tahiti, Ceylon, Scotland, Norway, Australia, Indonesia, the Gulf of Mexico, and Myanmar. The finest Oriental Pearls are found in the Persian Gulf.
It is believed that Pearls help people see themselves, and eliminate emotional imbalances. They are also thought to give wisdom through experience. Ancient Chinese myths told of pearls falling from the sky when dragons thought. The ancient Greeks thought that pearls were the tears of the gods.

These photos are some of the Pearls I have in my gemstone stash.

 Faceted Pearls
 Keishi Pearls
Pale Pink Pearls

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