Nacre is a translucent, crystal-like material that gives pearls their iridescent sheen. This organic substance, often known as mother-of-pearl, is excreted by oysters in layers. Over time, numerous layers are formed, which ultimately results in a pearl.
Nacre will eventually be thicker the more layers there are. The color of the gem is richer the thicker the nacre is. The color of the pearl will have a milky appearance with very few overtones when the nacre is thin. The iridescence of the gemstone is caused by the overlaying of many nacre layers.
But what impact does nacre have on pearl color? And how can oysters produce pearls of various colors?
Are Pearl Parties a Scam, though?
Oysters called “Wish Pearls” include pearls that come from mainland China. Currently, you can buy them for between $1 and $5 per oyster on websites like Alibaba or Ebay.
These are low-quality actual pearls that have been colored, dyed, and frequently processed at an off-shore plant. A long-dead Akoya pearl oyster is then put with them within.
To prevent the interiors from rotting while it waits for a buyer, the shells are immersed in a solution of rubbing alcohol and formaldehyde (I’ve been hearing about more harmful ingredients lately, but this hasn’t been confirmed yet). Lovely….
My opinion of them is that, as long as you know what you’re buying, they’re a fun gift idea to pick up while you’re on vacation. However, I object when online pearl parties advertise these as Akoya pearls.
Because drilling them is a RISKY proposition due to their submersion in various agents, pearl specialist organizations like mine will not be able to mount the pearls recovered from a Wish Pearl. Most jewelers simply cannot take on that liability. These items typically come in unique little “kits” that contain a Sterling Silver PLATED “cage” pendant, demonstrating that the manufacturers have already taken into account this issue. Simply insert that sucker into its cage, and presto! a lovely pearl pendant.
With a wide number of cage pendant styles to pick from, the maker in the aforementioned picture from Alibaba has done a nice job of making a stunning presentation so you don’t have to pierce the pearl (and risk breaking it).
How to Treat Pearls: An Overview
A pearl is the epitome of nature. Unlike gemstones, which are frequently chopped and polished to reveal their brilliance, pearls are delivered ready-made and appear to be just as natural as when they first left the creature that gave birth to them—or do they?
Man has been trying to change nature from the beginning of time. The same is true of pearls. Most cultured pearls sold today have been treated or processed in some way after being taken out of the mollusk. Learning what to look for and what to avoid is the only way to shop with assurance in the wholesale market.
Prices and demand play a big role in pearl treatments. Cultivation times shorten as producers are pushed to produce more cheaper pearls in larger quantities. Pearls are no longer permitted to stay inside the mollusk for years; instead, they are retrieved after only eight months. As a result, thinner-nacred pearls lack the opulent brilliance and orient of their thicker-nacred forebears. Pearls with thin nacre are more likely to chip, shatter, or quickly lose their luster. This subsequently increases the demand for additional treatments to enhance pearls of lower quality.
Ironically, industry professionals concur that pearls look better than ever. Fred Ward, graduate gemologist and author of Pearls, responds to a question regarding the pearls on display at this year’s Tucson gem and mineral shows, saying, “The quality, polish, and hues now are significantly different and frequently superior.” Producers don’t really share notes, but each will be experimenting with different improvements to make their pearls more beautiful. “Much of the output is looking better with all the things they are attempting,” he continues.
Pearls are cleaned and tumbled when they are first taken from the mussel or oyster in order to get rid of any dirt or odor. The highest-quality cultivated pearls might only undergo that. To improve their appearance, many pearls, however, may go through additional procedures or treatments. “Today, treatments are commonplace in the pearl industry. Twenty years ago, this was not the case “According to gemologist and author of The Pearl Book: The Definitive Buying Guide Antoinette Matlins.
Some medical procedures are fairly safe. Others could lower the standard of the pearls, causing them to lose quality with regular use. To purchase pearls that will last, it is essential to understand treatments.
Bleaching is frequently used to lighten and even out pearl color after the initial cleaning. Conchiolin, a porous, black protein, forms the first coating to cover a nucleus’ surface. It becomes lighter after bleaching. This is crucial when the nacre is too thin to cover the black layer, which is why bleaching is frequently unnecessary for pearls with thick nacre.
The majority of white pearls on the market are bleached, while the process is rarely acknowledged, with the exception of the majority of South Sea cultured pearls and American freshwater cultured pearls.
Another popular method is polishing. In an oily medium like beeswax, pearls are frequently gently tumbled with natural materials, such as bamboo slivers, ground-up walnut shells, and eucalyptus leaves. This process smooths out minor flaws and increases shine and luster. It’s straightforward and unobtrusive, claims Ward. Beeswax or other oily materials used to increase shine, however, will eventually lose their effectiveness.
Furthering such procedures, various materials may be utilized to patch up drill holes, pits, and cracks in pearls. These frequently blend in with the hue and sheen of the nacre, but they can occasionally be seen with a loupe. Occasionally, if a cheap baroque pearl is hollow or has a loose nucleus, epoxy materials are utilized to fill the hole. They become more substantial and durable as a result.
The Oyster Pearls FAQ
When a foreign object enters the oyster between the mantle and shell, a pearl begins to form. Because of this irritation, the oyster attempts to defend itself by creating nacre to cover the foreign object. A pearl develops from these layers over time.
If the pearl is taken with exceptional care, the oyster is not killed or harmed when it is removed.
The presence of a pearl inside an oyster is not immediately apparent. To check if one is inside, you must open the shell. On the other hand, older, larger oysters are more likely to have pearls.
Oysters can produce pearls in a range of hues, such as white, black, gray, red, blue, and green. While the majority of these hues are common throughout the globe, black pearls are unique to the South Pacific.
Harvesters make a small opening in the oyster shell and use a surgical instrument to make a tiny slit in the mantle tissue to remove the pearl.
Are colorful pearls actually found in oysters?
To fulfill consumer demand, pearls are frequently colored green, silver, black, or dark gold. However, due to their exceptional quality and scarcity, silver-blue pearls from saltwater akoya oysters can be produced, although they are quite expensive.
How do you get colour out of pearls?
This method results in a stunning speckled and eclectic spray of several hues.
Directly on top of the pearls, sprinkle the dye powder. Wait until the dye has taken to the desired level before letting the pearls and dye sit together.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when preparing your purchased dye. Never combine external chemicals with industrial dyes as this could result in a negative response.
To avoid leaving any lumps or undissolved dye powder that could result in specks on your completed pearls, carefully pour the dye through a strainer similar to a coffee filter.
Put a paper towel in the glass pan’s bottom. The pearls will be raised off the glass container’s surface by the paper towel so they may absorb the dye from all sides.
Onto the paper towel, arrange the pearls. Keep in mind to separate the pearls so they can be dyed all around even if you decide to keep them strung together.
Alternatively, you can decide to scatter the pearls throughout the paper towel; just make sure there is room between each pearl.
To avoid moving the pearls, gently pour the dye into the pan. The pearls should be completely submerged in the dye, which should cover the whole surface of the fabric or paper towel.
Depending on the level of color intensity wanted, you can adjust how long you allow the pearls soak in the dye. The pearls’ color intensity will grow with the amount of time they spend in the bath. Check your pearls every minute to get a lighter shade. Use a fabric color remover to get the dye out of your pearls if you overcolored them. Re-dye the pearls until you are satisfied with the results. When the pearls are the desired color, thoroughly rinse them in water until the water is clear. Before handling the pearls, let them dry for at least a day.