Thursday, November 29, 2007
Varieties of Cultured Pearls
VARIETIES OF CULTURED PEARLS
Traditionally grown in Japan, Akoya pearls are pure white, lustrous pearls generally ranging in size from 3 to 8 mm. These are extremely popular in the U.S. and large percentages are strung into simple strand jewelry. Today, these pearls also are grown in China.
White South Sea pearls are cultivated in Australia and Indonesia in tropical oysters. They range in size from 10 to 20 mm and command premium prices. Black South Sea pearls are grown in large oysters native to French Polynesia. Available in a range of dark, silvery colors, they are extremely beautiful and priced accordingly.
Freshwater pearls, which are grown around the world, exhibit less luster than salt-water varieties and are available in a range of unique free-form shapes. They are significantly more affordable than salt-water pearls.
Mobe pearls are hemispherical selections grown against the shell of oysters to create their flat back.These are generally used in earrings and rings.
Today, virtually all pearls are cultured—cultivated through natural processes with the aid of man.Natural pearls occurring with no human assistance are extremely rare. The culturing process involves surgically implanting a small polished shell bead and mantle tissue in each oyster. The oyster responds by secreting layers nacre, a crystalline substance that becomes the pearl. During this process, the oysters are returned to the sea and carefully cared for until the growing process is complete.
“When judging quality in pearls, consider luster, color, color overtone, surface condition, shape and size,”says Dillon. “Luster, perhaps the most important consideration, is the glow of light reflecting back through the layers of the pearl nacre. Body color is the actual pearl color, while color overtone is simply a rose or greenish cast.”
Select pearls with smooth surface conditions, avoiding cracks, blemishes and pits. Bear in mind, however,that all pearls have minor imperfections. The best pearls are perfectly round. Larger pearls generally command higher price. However, the pearl’s luster and thickness of the nacre also are key.
David Dillon is extremely knowledgeable about pearl quality and artistry, having grown up in the pearl business. For the past fifteen years, his parents have owned a thriving pearl wholesale and retail business.Dillon and his mother travel to the pearl-growing capitals of the world—including Japan, Australia and Tahiti—to select only the highest quality merchandise for Dillon Pearl Corp. Since the successful young wholesaler opened his doors in 1996, business has almost quadrupled, as the company gained a reputation for offering a unique combination of high-quality, variety and reasonable price.
Dillon Pearl is located at 20 West 47th Street, suite 20R, New York, in the heart of Manhattan’s jewelry district. To learn more about pearls in general and the Dillon Pearl line, in particular, visit their website at http://www.dillonpearl.com.
Jeanne Marie Phillips
Marketing Director, Dillon Pearl Corp.