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Article Teaser: Today, Freshwater cultured pearls are the closest to natural pearls in growth. Their lower cost and increasingly higher and higher quality makes them a very popular choice as the first or twenty-first set of pearls. Following are information tidbits about Freshwater cultured pearls as well as what to look for when making a purchase decision.

Keep reading below...

Choosing your Freshwater Pearls

Copyright (c) 2006-2017 PearlsOnly
Written by:

Freshwater cultured pearls are relatively new to the fine jewelry market. However, they were the first to be successfully cultured about 700 years ago.

Today, Freshwater cultured pearls are the closest to natural pearls in growth. Their lower cost and increasingly higher and higher quality makes them a very popular choice as the first or twenty-first set of pearls.

Following are information tidbits about Freshwater cultured pearls as well as what to look for when making a purchase decision.


History

Early Chinese records show that freshwater blister pearls were successful cultured about 700 hundred years ago. Prior to this, natural pearls were formed within freshwater mussels and found during harvest. In these early days, mussels were harvested mainly for food and their colorful shells. These mussels are filter feeders and open their shells slightly to allow water to flow in. Then they can take nutrients from the microscopic particles and organisms in the water.

Small irritants such as small animals can also float in. Parasites can also drill right through the mussel's hard shell. To protect itself, the mussel enclosed the irritant in a sac and then secretes layer upon layer of nacre around the irritant. After years, this can result in a lustrous pearl.

About 70 years ago, the Japanese were successful in culturing small, different shaped and very lustrous freshwater cultured pearls. These first cultured Freshwater pearls were produced in Japan's Lake Biwa. As a result, some irregular shaped, lustrous freshwater pearls are referred to as "Biwas." However only freshwater pearls cultured in this area should be named in this manner.

About 30 years ago, the Chinese produced rice shaped white freshwater pearls in much larger quantities. Now, the crop favors quality over quantity and some are very round and lustrous.


Today

One of the largest natural pearls in existence today is the Hope Pearl. It belonged to its namesake - Henry Phillip Hope. Hope's incredible gem collection also included the infamous blue Hope Diamond.

Today, beautiful freshwater pearls are available in a multitude of shapes, colors and sizes. The pearls themselves have become a mainstay in the fine jewelry market.


Colors

In the past, the myriad of freshwater cultured pearl colors were previously not well known. The color of the pearl is partly determined by the mussel itself as well as environmental factors. The most prevalent natural color is white, as well as pastel colors in both pinks and lavenders.

Traditional white pearls are still by far the most popular. The color can vary slightly under different lighting sources and ambient colors. For example, Florescent light, an overcast sky and shaded light tend to intensify blues. Regular incandescent light bulbs as well as the rising or setting sun tend to intensify reds and yellows. For the truest color, choose natural sunlight about midday.

Light pastels in pinks and lavenders have also become very popular and edged their way into the fine jewelry marketplace. These pastels colors are often harder to find in most retail establishments.

After harvest, the pearl may undergo treatments as well to enhance or alter color. Black freshwater pearl colors are usually created by irradiation treatment that permanently changes the color of the pearls. The metallic iridescence resulting from these treatments is very beautiful. The most popular are black with green-peacock, deep sapphire blue and dark onyx black. This treatment makes available a new color range and the look of black Tahitian at a fraction of the price. Treated black pearls have been available in fine jewelry establishments for decades.


Shape

As cultured freshwater pearls are tissue nucleated, only about two percent of any given harvest is round. As a result, roundness is one of the most important factors in the valuation of freshwater pearls.


Luster and Surface

Another very important value factor is the pearl's luster. The shine or luster of a pearl is defined as how well the pearl reflects light. One way to think about luster is to imagine a mirror. The more light reflected and clearer the image, the better the pearl's luster.


Size

The size of the pearl also effects the value. A larger pearl with similar other value factors will be more valuable than a smaller one. However, there is a size range where values increase exponentially. Freshwater pearls average between 6mm to 7mm. As a result, pearls at or under that size range are more readily available. When the size range increases to 7mm to 8mm, 8mm to 9mm and greater than 9mm+ ranges, the value increases dramatically.


Finished Jewelry

The pearls in a jewelry piece should be well matched in color, size and quality. For freshwater pearls, with their varying natural colors, color matching is very important. As, pearls are a natural gem, look for a variation that is both slight and pleasing.

For a set the pearls should match within each piece as well as the set as a whole. For example, the earrings should match the necklace and bracelet. This is also true for pendant and earring set matching as well. As a result, acquiring the entire set at the same time is preferred as it can be harder to match later on.


About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
Norma Jones is a GIA certified Pearls expert and the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at www.PearlsOnly.com. PearlsOnly is an internet based eCommerce business that provides high quality pearl jewelry direct to consumers. Our goal is complete customer satisfaction with the best selection of the finest pearls anywhere. We leverage our multinational presences to offer our clients high quality pearls, with above-and-beyond customer service at incredible prices. Visit us online at http://www.PearlsOnly.com or call us at 1(888)834-4148.

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