Pearls are associated as an epitome of elegance and grace. Apart from the generic information about where pearls are procured from not much information is known about them. If one wants to get into the field of Jewellery Design it is essential to study about pearls. They are one of the most ancient gems and its use as a form of jewellery goes back to 6000 years ago.
Pearls are the only gems found inside living creatures in both salt and freshwater. They have been known to be commercially harvested 2500 years back. Due to over-harvesting natural pearls disappeared in the late 1800s. In the wild only one in a million of the creatures produce a pearl. In 1910 Japan introduced Perliculture or pearl farming to increase the production of pearls. Hence most of the pearls available in the market today are cultivated pearls. Since natural pearls are rare, they command a very high market value.
Pearl Grading is based on the following factors – luster, nacre thickness, shape, surface quality, colour and size.
More the light on the pearl’s surface, the sharper its reflections and higher the luster. Reflections are sharp and bright if there is a very high or high luster. However, it is found to be weak if it has a dull luster.
The thickness of a pearl’s nacre layers also known as nacre thickness affects its durability and relates directly to its orient and luster. A thickness of 0.25mm to 0.35 mm spells good commercial grade, whereas 0.35 to 0.5 mm is considered gem grade.
If the shape of the pearl is round it will command high value. An oval shaped pearl is more valuable than a baroque shape.
The surface quality is determined by the smoothness and blemish free along with how clean a pearl appears. These factors affect the durability of the pearls.
Easily visible and saturated, the better. Rarer the overtones, more valuable they are and thus increases the price of the pearls.
The bigger the size of the pearl the higher the price range. Since larger pearls are hard to cultivate as it takes time and due to the rarity in the case, it can yield higher price points.
Pearls are coveted gems and it is important as students of BSc. in Jewellery Design to understand the basic factors about pearls and its qualities
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