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Facts about Pearls

What are Pearls?

Pearls are considered to be the "Queen of Jewels", and have been adored around the world since time immemorial. They are special in that while many gemstones (such as diamonds) are produced under immense heat and pressure within the earth, pearls are different - they are produced within live pearl oysters.

When sand or other objects enter a pearl oyster, the oyster starts forming a "shell", called the nacre, around the particle. Many layers of nacre build up until a pearl is formed, which can take many months or years. This nacre is the same material that makes up the shiny inside layer of the oyster shell, known as "mother-of-pearl". 

It is a myth that all pearls are round - in fact, they can also be oval, drop, button, or irregularly shaped (also known as baroque). Since pearl-formation is a natural process of pearl oysters, the type of oyster can greatly influence the pearl's colour, shape, size, and even lustre. Learn about these different types of pearls here.

What does it mean for a pearl to be cultured?

Tahitian black pearls on shell

Pearls can form in the wild - in fact, until modern times, the only way to obtain pearls is through wild pearl oysters. However, wild pearls that are  can be considered jewellery-grade gemstones are rare. Less than 1 in 10,000 wild oysters contain pearls. As a result, throughout history pearls were luxuries only the richest kings, queens, and nobility could own.

However, in the early 1900s people invented a method to jumpstart the pearl-formation process, making it far more easier and reliable to obtain jewellery-grade pearls today. This works by inserting a small peice of material (often made out of mother-of-pearl) into the pearl oyster. Just like with sand and other natural particles, the oyster will then start building layers of nacre around the material until a 'cultured pearl' is produced.

The difference between cultured and wild pearls is that while wild pearls form pearls 'by chance', cultured pearl formation is initiated by people. Afterwards, both wild and cultured pearls form the pearl nacre naturally. Since the environment of cultured pearl oysters are usually controlled, cultured pearls can sometimes be of better quality than wild pearls.

At Queen's Jewellery, we want to deliver quality pearls at great value for our customers. That is why we produce all our beautiful jewellery using cultured pearls, sourced from suppliers with high quality standards.

Coral Reef Island

Learn about the different types and browse our range of pearls.

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