Talk with Our Gemmologist: Pearls Explained

laurence looking at a pearl

Laurence Coffrant, GAA qualified Gemmologist

Welcome, gem enthusiasts and birthstone lovers! As we step into the month of June, we’re captivated by the lustrous glow of its exquisite birthstone: the pearl. But there’s more to these glowing gems than meets the eye. To uncover the mysteries and allure of pearls, we sat down with Laurence, our resident gemmologist and valuer in training. Dive into the depths and discover the fascinating facts that make June’s birthstone truly remarkable.

woman wearing pearl jewellery

Pearls are often associated with elegance and luxury. What makes them so unique compared to other gemstones?

Oh, pearls are fascinating gems. What sets them apart is that they’re the only gemstone created by living creatures. Isn’t that fascinating? Oysters work their magic over many years, creating these stunning orbs of natural beauty.

Large sea pearls on the background of mother-of-pearl shell

Pearls have a rich history, once reserved for the elite. Are pearls expensive?

Pearls were once a symbol of status and privilege. But thanks to advancements in cultivation techniques, these treasures are not just for royalty. Today, pearls are a gemstone for anyone to enjoy, adding elegance to any outfit.

man putting pearl necklace on lady

We've heard about South Sea pearls being particularly prized. Can you tell us more about them?

South Sea pearls are the pinnacle of the pearl world. Found along the pristine northwest coast of Australia, these pearls boast exceptional lustre, size, and durability. The pearl farmers go above and beyond to nurture the oysters, ensuring optimal conditions for pearl growth. It’s a labour of love that results in these exquisite gems.

How long does it take for a single oyster to produce a pearl?

Well, patience is the key to South Sea pearls! A single oyster takes around 2 to 3 years to create a prized pearl. The pearls produced have a high-quality lustre, a surface finish that doesn’t require further treatment to have a heavenly glow. Compare that to freshwater pearls, which can be cultured in as little as six months.

pearl jewellery

So, cultured pearls are much faster to produce?

Yes, and there is a difference in the end product as well. A single oyster can produce up to 38 cultured pearls. These pearls often receive treatments such as bleaching and dying to improve their appearance. These treatments can lose their appearance over time, resulting in a dull pearl. So, the best thing is to protect your pearls from perfumes or chemicals and store them correctly.

cultured pearl necklaces

Let's talk about a real gem rarity - the Melo Melo pearl. We've heard they're pretty unique, can you shed some light on them?

Oh, the Melo Melo pearls are indeed a marvel. What makes them truly special is that they’re formed inside snails rather than oysters or mussel shells. Unlike traditional pearls, they don’t possess the typical lustre. Instead, they have a smooth surface with a mesmerising flame-like pattern. And here’s the unique part—they can’t be cultured like other pearls, making them exceptionally rare finds.

Is there any truth to the old wives' tale that pearls are bad luck?

No! There’s a superstition floating around that pearls are bad luck, but don’t let that worry you! This belief is rooted in ancient myths and varies across cultures. Most modern gem enthusiasts see pearls as symbols of purity and wisdom. So, if you love them, don’t let old superstitions stop you from enjoying their beauty.

woman wearing pearl bracelet

Tell us, can pearls be used in an engagement ring?

Absolutely! While diamonds have long been the traditional choice, pearls offer a unique and romantic alternative. However, it’s important to note that pearls are much more delicate than diamonds, so they require a bit of extra care and TLC. But pearls can make a classy choice for an engagement ring for those searching for something different.

pearl engagement ring

And there you have it, folks! A captivating journey into the depths of pearls with Laurence, our gemmologist extraordinaire. Until next time, keep sparkling!

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