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You may have heard the phrase… “That was a genuine pearl of wisdom.” Actually, pearls are said to represent wisdom. Think about it though … a piece of sand or a sea flea somehow gets inside an oyster shell. The oyster may think, “How in the world did this sand get into my shell?” Instead of merely washing it out as we humans might wash sand from our bathing suits, that oyster decides to make lemonade out of this lemon situation. He uses his native nacre to create a truly beautiful gem revered by everyone … a pearl. So, you see, it’s not really the pearl that is so wise; it’s that resourceful oyster!
You may wonder what nacre is. Also known as mother of pearl, nacre is an organic–inorganic composite material produced by some mollusks as an inner shell layer; it is also the material of which pearls are composed. It is strong, resilient, and iridescent.
Pearls are beautiful, indeed. One can wear them in a classic manner – a string of pearls on your wedding day or pearl drop earrings. Here at The Jewelry Pad, however, we design pearl jewelry in a more unique fashion. We may pair pearls with sea glass, wood, coral, and shells. We believe these combinations truly reflect the natural environment from which pearls were created.
Pearls have been worn as adornment at least as early as ancient Greece. The Greek people from 500 BCE believed that pearls were the tears of the gods. Portraits of royals in Tudor England show jewelry and clothing adorned with pearls. And until the development of cultured and freshwater pearls, natural pearls were only worn by the very rich.
Cultured pearls result from the process by which pearl farmers insert an irritant into the mollusk. The oyster then does the exact same thing as when an accident of nature happens. These pearls are more affordable because we don’t have to wait for that speck of sand to naturally migrate inside of an oyster shell. It can be placed there by human intervention.
Freshwater pearls come from oysters that mature in lakes as opposed to seas and oceans. They are usually not as round as saltwater pearls and even less expensive. Their quality has increased most recently due to the type of mussel used.
Shell Pearls are made from the inner lining of oyster shells, known as Mother of Pearl. The substance is ground to a fine powder, shaped, dyed and coated with natural pearl nacre and then a protective coating to give it luster. Shell pearls, like most everything, vary in quality but may be quite beautiful and much less expensive than saltwater pearls.
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