The beautiful Grace Kelly once said, “I favor pearls on screen and in my private life.”
Pearls are one of the most precious gemstones that comes from a living being.
It is a hard glistening object produced within the soft tissue of a living shelled mollusk or other animals.
It is one of the most valued gemstones and the finest of pearls is a rare find. Due to this very reason, the pearl has become a metaphor for something valuable, rare, and beautiful.
There are two types of pearls that are usually found apart from the imitation pearls that are sold widely as inexpensive jewelry.
One is the wild pearls that are also referred to as natural pearls. They are the most valuable ones and are extremely rare.
Another one is the farmed pearls also known as cultured pearls. They come from freshwater mussels and pearl oysters.
But do you know how this rare and precious gemstone is created?
How Are Pearls Created?
Pearls are actually a result of a defense mechanism.
It is composed of calcium carbonate (mainly aragonite or a mixture of aragonite and calcite) in a minute crystalline form which has been deposited in concentric layers.
Whenever a foreign object, for example, a grain of sand enters the shell of the mollusk, it produces nacre to protect itself from the intruder.
What happens is the oyster coats it with thousands of layers of nacre, which is a completely smooth sphere preventing any irritation or wounding.
Are Pearls Always Perfectly Round and White?
Though an ideal pearl is said to be perfectly smooth and round and has a shiny white color, it is not necessary for all the pearls to have the same features.
There colors and shapes of the pearl vary according to the species that created it.
They come in eight basic shapes: round, semi-round, pear, drop, button, oval, circled and double bouldered, and baroque.
And the varieties of colors a pearl has are white, black, gold, pink, champagne, blue, green, and purple.
Only 1 out of 10,000 mollusks produces a valuable pearl.
But the ratio among the cultured oysters is much higher, with almost 40 saleable pearls out of 100.
And to reach this number, a perfectly round “nucleus” made from mussel shell is inserted into the mollusks.
They are then put back into the water for almost 10 months until perfectly ideal pearls are made.
But it is not just the sea creatures creating this precious gemstone. Surprisingly other mollusks also produce pearls. Including spider conches, and freshwater mollusks.
But the pearls they create aren’t perfectly round and precious. In fact, they form spheres resembling porcelain.
Uses of Pearls.
Whether cultured or wild, pearls have a great value in the market. They are used in several ways, the significant one being jewelry.
Other uses of pearls are to adorn clothes. And the crushed and powered version of it can be used in medicines, cosmetics, and paint formulations.
Apart from beauty, pearl also has religious values, and not just one but several religions.
In Hindu, a pearl is related to Ayurveda and medicinal purposes as well as the wealth of royal families.
Apart from that, it is also associated with many Hindu gods and goddesses.
In Christianity, pearls are taken as a metaphor for beauty. In the New Testament, it is said that Jesus compares the “Kingdom of Heaven” to a “pearl of a great price”.
And in the Quran, it mentions that the dwellers of paradise will be adorned with pearls, giving pearl such a great value.
So remember, the world is your oyster and you are the pearl.