From ArticleWorld

Pearls generate on the shells of certain bivalve mollusks like oysters. When a grain of sand gets inside the shell the mollusk, out of extreme irritation, starts depositing layers of calcium carbonate in the mineral form of aragonite or calcite, both which are crystalline forms of calcium carbonate and it is held together by an organic compound and conchiolin. These calcium carbonate and cochiolin amalgamate together to form 'nacre', most commonly known as mother-of- pearl. However, the layers formed are responsible for the luster of the pearl. The reflection and the refraction of light from these layers, their finer proportion and numerous in numbers are most favorable for the shine of the pearl. Pearls are usually white in color but are also seen as off-white or pink. There are also shades of green, blue, brown, purple and black. Black Tahitian pearls are the rarest and most valuable in the group.



Act of pearl hunting was in vogue before and in the beginning of 20th century. Divers pulled out oysters to find pearls. However, it is seen that out of 3 tons of oysters only 3 to 4 harvested quality pearl in each of them.

In modern times mari-culture of pearls is a prospective business for their extensive jewelry. A deliberate planting of nucleus which is a bead from the mussel shell, is infused into the oyster and within 3 to 6 years of time it produces a pearl. This pearl culture officially started in Kokichi Mikimoton in Japan, 1896. Oysters cultured in Japan are very small in size, ranging from 6cm to 7cm; so pearls which are 10mm and above are highly expensive and less in quantity. Pearls are also harvested in South Pacific and Indian Ocean, and these oysters produce huge sized pearls. Especially the South Sea pearls are large (14mm) and silver in color. Australia holds the largest number of pearl producer in the world. The famous Tahitian pearls also originate in the South Sea.

In 1914, fresh water culturing of pearls began in Lake Biwa, near Kyoto, in Japan. They used extensively the Biwa pearl mussels to produce huge amount of quality pearls. The Biwa pearls were so popular that it is synonymous to any fresh water pearl productions. However, the Biwa pearl culture led to a disaster. No doubt, it scored for its highest production of pearls but it inevitably led to the extinct of this specie. The reason behind such culturing was hat these pearls produced in fresh water reflect rainbow colors and are even more lustrous.


The widely use of pearls are mainly in making of jewelry. Pearls make highly aesthetic jewelry and are a must for a woman’s closet. Pearls are distinguished and valued for its luster, color, size and shape. Most importantly it’s the luster that counts the value of pearl. Secondly, it’s the size that comes to determine the importance of pearls. The greater the size is, the higher the price becomes. Pearls usually come is 8 shapes – perfectly round, semi-round, button, drop, par, oval, baroque and ringed. The perfectly round ones are the most expensive ones so they are often replaced by semi-round sizes also. Mainly they are used for making necklaces. The button shaped ones, slightly flat at one side are used to make earrings, pendants and rings. Baroque are the irregular shaped pearls and are used in making necklaces. They often give out a unique and interesting appeal to the owner.

However, cultured pearls are less expensive than the natural ones. Also, the imitated pearls cannot replace the original pearls in looks and in quality. These imitations are harvested from the corals or conch shells or mother-of-pearls while some of them are made of glass quoted with a solution made of fish scales, called 'essence d orient'. But the lack of pure luster, color and smoothness make them inferior to the natural ones.

Pearl marketing in Beijing and China

Pearls’ necklaces have a name of their own. The string of pearls are arranged and named to characterize the type a person is wearing. The string that hangs around the neck is called 'collar' and will tightly fit around it whereas a 'pearl choker' sticks below the neck. There is 'princess' that touches the collarbone but a 'matinee of pearls' restricts above the breasts only. There are few others strings and necklaces that are exclusive pearl ornaments.

Religious reference

Pearl has great significance in Bible where Jesus compares Kingdom of Heaven to be a Pearl of Price. Even, Rebbenu Bachya stated that 'yahalom' means 'pearl' as mentioned in Exodus as one of the stones in ephod, representing the tribe of Zabulon. On the other hand, one of the Vedas mentioned the Nava Moti (Nine Pearls) as sacred in the book called Atharveda.