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Gemstones – Pearls

Posted in Gemstones


Pearls, prized for their beauty, lustre and rarity. have been around for more than four thousand years. Cultures around the world, including India, Egypt, China, Imperial Rome and people in the Arab world and Native American tribes have valued pearls longer than any other gem.

Did you know pearls are the only gemstone that is grown inside of a living organism? It’s true! Natural Pearls form within oysters or mollusks when a foreign substance (generally a parasite – not a grain of sand as most people believe) invades the shell of the mollusk and enters the soft mantle tissue. As a response to the irritation, the mantle’s epithelial cells form a sac (known as a pearl sac) which then secretes a crystalline substance called nacre. Nacre is the same substance which makes up the interior of a mollusk’s shell, which then continues to build, layer upon layer, around the irritant, and eventually forms a pearl.

There are many different types of Pearls, including:

Cultured Pearls – To form a cultured pearl, human intervention is necessary to start the pearl producing process in the mollusk. A piece of mantle tissue or a round bead is inserted into the mollusk and then the process of depositing layers of nacre around the irritant begins, just as it does in natural pearls.

Akoya Pearls – Saltwater Akoya cultured pearls are produced by the Pinctada Fucata oyster, which was the first mollusk ever used to commercially culture pearls in the late 1800′s. Although the Akoya oyster produces small size pearls (ranging from 2mm – 8mm) because of it’s small size. the Saltwater Akoya is known for producing rounder, more lustrous pearls than any other pearl producing mollusk.

Tahitian Pearls – First discovered in the mid- seventeen hundreds by European explorers, the black-lipped inctada Margaritifera oyster, which produces the exotic Tahitian pearl, can produce pearls that range in size from 8-mm to 20-mm. Tahitian Pearls are most generally though to be black in color, but in truth, they offer a range of other colors including grays, blues, greens and browns.

South Sea Pearls – Beautiful South Sea pearls, known for their satin like luster, thick nacre and wonderful array of colors, are produced by the Pinctada Maxima oyster. Because the shell of these oysters are very large, the Pinctada Maxima can produce pearls as large as 10mm – 20mm in size.

Freshwater Pearls – Freshwater pearls are the most durable and long-lasting cultured pearls available in the world. Because they are comprised of solid nacre, they are more likely to withstand chips, cracks and quality degradation through years of wear and tear. Freshwater pearls are the perfect “Go-To Fashion” pearls, as they are available in a wide range of colors, sizes, shapes, qualities and price points.

Natural Pearls – Natural pearls are formed randomly, and are truly accidents of nature. When an irritant becomes lodged in the tissue of a mollusk, it responds by secreting nacre to protect the mollusk. Over a period of several years, this layer upon layer build-up of nacre forms a natural pearl.

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