When you buy jewelry with pearls in a jewelry store, unfortunately you cannot count on honest and competent advice from the seller.
In most cases, only general phrases can be heard from the consultant regarding this gemstone and the statement that the cultivated stone is the same as the «real» one, only cheaper and more beautiful.
In the case of pearls in mass-market jewelry, not everything is as simple as we would like, and in some cases, it is not always possible even for experienced jewelry lovers to understand which of them have a higher value.
Moreover, the problems in choosing a good stone are also added by the fact that various information is written on the tags for such jewelry, which is very problematic to navigate. And without the help of an expert in this matter, it seems absolutely impossible to buy a really high-quality jewelry.
However, there is a way out and it consists in a few simple facts that you need to know before buying pearls and which, unfortunately, consultants never talk about.
An example of mother-of-pearl detachment in low-grade pearls. An example of mother-of-pearl detachment in low-grade pearls.
The first thing you need to know about pearls in jewelry stores in our country is that 90% of all mother-of-pearl pearls are cultured — grown on oyster farms.
Yes Yes. Exactly. There are practically no “real” pearls made without human intervention in the mass jewelry market. Real, uncultured saltwater pearls are so rare and valuable that they are sold as a single gem at auctions, not in your backyard store.
The next thing to understand is how cultured pearls are made and how the varieties differ.
pearl mining process pearl mining process
The only difference between a cultured gem and a «real» gem is that the latter is rarer. Also in it, the pearl is formed naturally without human intervention. In an attempt to burrow into the seabed, the mollusk opens the “shell” by pushing the silt apart and, when it collapses, captures a particle, for example, earth, which subsequently becomes overgrown with mother-of-pearl and, creating what is commonly called a pearl. This process is similar to protecting our body when a splinter enters. Only unlike a mollusk, instead of being wrapped in mother-of-pearl, our body envelops a splinter with a purulent substance.
Cultured pearls are created a little differently. A small round or tear-shaped bead is specially placed in the mollusk and left for a while until this bead is overgrown with the desired layer of mother-of-pearl. Such a layer will always be thinner than that of a real stone, but its price will always be several times lower.
An important thing to know when choosing a cultured pearl is that it comes in saltwater and freshwater varieties.
On tags for freshwater , you can often find inscriptions: freshwater, natural and cultivated. This means that the pearl was farm-raised using freshwater shellfish.
Sorting pearls after collection. Sorting pearls after collection.
In terms of quality, such pearls are practically not inferior to sea pearls. It is less shiny, but it can have any size and even shape. By color, freshwater cultured pearls can be white, pink and golden. Mostly it will be warm pastel colors. The largest freshwater pearl farms are located in China.
Saltwater pearls, which you should always keep in mind if you want to buy a unique and expensive jewelry, are more valuable and are a variety of cultured ones.
It is grown only by shellfish that live in salty sea water. The high price of such a stone is due to the fact that the formation of a pearl takes longer, and one oyster can produce only one gem.
By color, sea pearls are white, black and mother-of-pearl in pastel colors. In size, it does not exceed 15 millimeters. If the color is different (for example, green), then with a high probability the pearl is treated!
In this regard, if you are looking for an inexpensive piece of jewelry with pearls, which you do not plan to use as an investment in the future, then you can safely take products where the tag will indicate: cultured, freshwater or natural pearls.
If you want to take something more worthwhile and rare, then definitely your choice is pearls marked “marine”.