La Mine d'Or Jewellers

Throughout civilizations, pearls have adorned a rich history and have often been described as a symbol of purity and innocence. Often seen as being a national treasure, pearls have even been used as currency and have always been identified as a coveted jewel. In the past, pearls were reserved for the nobility, but today they are given to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and many other special occasions.

The different colours of pearls also had different meanings. Golden pearls symbolized riches; white, idealism; black, philosophy; pink, beauty; red, health and energy; grey, thought; and dull pearls brought bad luck.

Before the development of pearl culture processes in 1920, divers would harvest pearls entirely by hand. In 1920, the Japanese developed a culture process which essentially put an end to pearl diving, and in turn rendered pearls more affordable for the general population. These days, virtually all pearls sold on the market are cultured; however, the techniques used to cultivate pearls have changed very little.

Pearl cultivation remains a long a tedious process often lasting several years. For example, the success rate for an Akoya pearl is approximately 20%, with only 5-10% of those being high quality. During the cultivation process, cultivators do their utmost to provide the ideal conditions for pearl growth and the well-being of the molluscs. Cultivation takes place in both fresh and salt water.

Unlike other precious stones, pearls are entirely organic. Pearls are composed of thousands of concentric layers of thin Calcium Carbonate crystals called nacre. The thickness of the nacre affects a pearl’s colour, lustre, and durability. Generally, thicker nacre equates to better pearl beauty and quality. The size of a cultured pearl is determined by the size of the oyster producing it, the size of the nucleus used, the oyster’s growing environment, and the pearl’s growth period.

There are several varieties of cultured pearls, the most common being:

  • Akoya Pearls: The Akoya is a saltwater Japanese cultured pearl which is without a doubt the most famous of all pearls; it is white, round and lustrous. The pearls produced range from 2 to 11mm in diameter; the larger being very rare. They are generally white to cream and sometimes have pink or green overtones.
  • Tahitian Pearls: The Tahitian pearl is cultured in the salt waters of French Polynesia and is labelled as being the true “black pearl”. Tahitian pearls usually measure between 8 and 14 mm in diameter; though they can sometimes reach 18 mm, which is very rare. They are mainly black, grey or brown, but they can also be blue to green, purple or greenish-yellow.
  • South Sea Pearls: South Sea Pearls are cultured in the salt waters of Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand. The pearls produced are 9 to 20 mm in diameter; most being approximately 13 mm. They are generally white to silvery with pink to blue to green overtones. Another variety produces yellow to orange pearls, known as “golden pearls” in the trade.
  • Mabe Pearls: Mabe pearls are cultured in saltwater and are more like half-pearls. In fact, they are pearl blisters which grow on the internal shell of the mollusc, which are then cutout and filled with resin.
  • Biwa: These are freshwater cultured pearls from Japan.
  • Freshwater Pearls: The label “Freshwater Pearl” is commonly associated to Chinese cultured pearls. These pearls are cultured with Mussels rather than Oysters, and have a growing period varying from 2 to 6 years. Cultured pearls produced using this method varies between 2 and 13 mm in diameter, the largest ones being much rarer. The pearls come in a wide range of colours, and in dozens of different shades. The most common are white to cream, yellow, orange and purple.

At La Mine d’Or, we are proud to offer a wide variety of Akoya, Tahitian, South Sea, and Freshwater Pearls. Our in store selection has a variety of sizes and colours to perfectly fit your needs.

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