Tears from heavenly angels: this was what pearls were known as by the early Chinese. The Egyptians believed that they were a gift from the gods.
As society evolved, these lovely beads continued as a symbol of pride and prestige. In the beginning, only royalty enjoyed a gorgeous strand around their necks and others simply envied. Soon, the rich and famous in king’s courts were seen with these pearls. And the common man would not be left behind for too long.
A look around a restaurant or even a college campus now, and you may find a host of women wearing these precious pieces around their neck or wrists. These are ordinary women who may have received these items as gifts or heirlooms. The reason why many people are able to afford pearl necklaces and earrings is because they are cultured. Let’s understand this in a little more detail.
A pearl is formed when a minor irritation or parasite enters a pearl oyster. When it penetrates and lodges in the mantle tissue of the oyster’s mollusk, the creature secretes nacre. This nacre is what forms the pearls eventually. This is the natural way of developing pearls.
Cultured pearls, on the other hand, are formed in oysters by the human implantation of a nucleus or irritant and nearly all pearls are cultured today. Besides, a natural pearl usually has thicker mother-of-pearl, or nacre, layers than its cultured counterpart. Natural and cultured pearls look quite different from the inside if you use a strong light source. Experts even use special X-ray-like equipment to check. Cultured pearls often show a narrow brown line around the core, while natural pearls have none of these growth rings.
While the cultivation of pearls is now a fast and automated process, let’s go back in time and see how it was invented. Pearl harvesting was first started by the Japanese in the late 19th and early 20th century. The innovators were three Japanese researchers, Tatsuhei Mise, Tokishi Nishikawa and Kokichi Mikimoto. They soon mastered the technique by eliminating errors in insertion and focused on mass production.
This lead to the birth of the pearl industry and allowed reliable, consistent cultivation of large numbers of quality pearls. Today, pearls are available in varying shapes, sizes, and qualities. Both natural and cultured pearls are in demand in today's market, but most sold today are cultured. Unless pearls are more than 80 years old, it is likely that they are cultured rather than natural.
While pearls may have become more affordable than ever before, they have not lost their timeless beauty and class. Own a piece of heaven within your budget by investing in cultured pearls.