White, pink, yellow, silver, cream, purple, golden, brown, green, blue, black
HARDNESS & TOUGHNESS
Hardness: 2.5 – 4.5 Toughness: Fair to Good
Akoya : Japan, China ; South Sea Pearls: Australia, Indonesia, Philippines ; Tahitian : French Polynesia (Tahiti Islands) ; Fresh Water: US, China
Pearl is one of the oldest, most desired and most spectacular gemstones in the world. Formed differently to most gems, Pearl is an organic creation found in the sea, a natural phenomena that actually occurs as part of the defense mechanism of a mollusc shell.
Pearls occur in a wide variety of colors. The most familiar colors are white and cream (a light yellowish brown). Black, gray, and silver are also fairly common, but the palette of pearl colors extend to every hue.
Natural pearls are formed when an irritant becomes lodged in a pearl oyster, and gets coated with a natural secretion of calcium carbonate called nacre. In the beginning of the 1900’s, it was discovered that a spherical bead could be placed in an oyster, and pearls could be “cultured”. There are varieties of freshwater mollusks that also produce pearls. These pearls can be cultured by artificially embedding bits of muscle tissue into the bivalves. Over ninety per cent of the pearls sold today are cultured, not natural. The great majority are also treated in some way to improve their appearance and color.