A pearl is a hard, glistening object produced within the soft tissue of a living shelled mollusc. Wild pearls are formed by a grain of sand inside the mollusc getting coated in layers of calcium carbonate forming the iridescent pearl. Wild, or natural pearls, are very rare and most commercial pearls are farmed by planting a starter inside the oyster or freshwater mussel to begin the process. Typically the larger and more perfectly round they are, the more expensive they are but, like with all things, there are exceptions to this rule.
Akoya pearls these are the original Japanese cultured pearl produced by a small pearl oyster. They are quite rare and we think they are the finest with a rich translucent lustre. These are the pearls that we use.
Baroque pearls are usually the largest and free form so very unusual shapes. They can get very expensive.
Mother of pearl is the inside of the shell that gets coated in the same calcium carbonate.
Mabe pearl is a domed blister pearl cultured on the inside of the shell. These have a flat back and look like a cabochon cut stone.
Black pearls are the most rare and therefore expensive. But they are very rarely black, usually shades of green, purple, aubergine, blue, grey, silver or a mix of several shades, like a peacock's feather.
Fun fact: Tessa was told a story from before pearl farming when a miniature Buddha would be carved and placed inside a mollusc to pearlise. When the mollusc was opened in front of an audience a seemingly inexplicable pearl buddha would be revealed inside!
Pearls are harvested from a living thing so may not be considered vegetarian/vegan.
Colours: White, pink, silver, cream, brown, green, blue, black, yellow and purple.
Mohs scale: 2.5 - 4.5
Crystal formation: Orthorhombic
Country of origin: Most pearls today come from China or Japan although they occur naturally all over the world.