Pearls of the Sea: Exploring The Types And Origins of Pearls
Beloved by royalty through to artists and jewellers, pearls have come to captivate humanity since our earliest days. Signifying lustrous beauty and timeless elegance, these gems of the sea are formed unlike any other “gemstone” known to humankind, being formed within the depths of oysters and molluscs. This results in a diverse array of pearls that vary in size, shape, and colour – all of which can create stunning jewellery.
And at Argyle Jewellers, we stock this beautiful jewellery. If you’re looking for fine Brisbane pearls, look no further. Discover what makes our range of pearls so unique.
The World’s Beautiful Range Of Pearls
Due to the way pearls are formed, you’ll find that there is a diverse range out there to discover. From the water in which their hosts dwell to the irritants that set off the creation of your pearls, there are many factors that determine the look of our pearls Brisbane.
Natural pearls are quite rare and are formed naturally when an irritant, such as a grain of sand or a parasite, finds its way into the soft tissue of an oyster or mollusc. As a form of defence, the oyster secretes layers of nacre around the irritant to protect the oyster. Nacre – also known as mother-of-pearl – is a lustrous and iridescent substance that also coats the inner surface of mollusc, oyster and clam shells. Composed of layers of calcium carbonate crystals that are intermixed with organic materials like proteins, this nacre is responsible for the formation of pearls, both natural and cultured, and come in irregular shapes and sizes, adding to their uniqueness and allure. A perfectly round, natural pearl is therefore exceedingly rare.
Cultured pearls are the result of a deliberate process wherein humans introduce an irritant into the oyster or mollusk, prompting the creature to produce a pearl. Apart from the introduction of the irritant, these pearls are composed of the same elements as pearls formed naturally.
As it is with other human-created precious stones – including lab-made diamonds – these pearls can be further categorised into a number of types.
Cultivated primarily in Japan, China, and Vietnam, Akoya pearls are known for their classic round shape and their stunning lustre. The oysters that produce Akoya pearls are seeded with a bead composed of mother-of-pearl and a small piece of mantle tissue, which goes on to produce much more perfectly rounded pearls. They often have a white or cream colour, making them a popular choice for elegant jewellery pieces.
Cultivated in French Polynesia, Tahitian pearls are celebrated for their striking dark colours, ranging from deep black to shades of grey, blue, green, and purple. The way these colours are naturally created is due to the oyster in which they reside. In many cases, the colour of a pearl is decided by the colour of the lip of the oyster (the outer portion of its shell). Cultured Tahitian pearls inherit their various hues from cultured Tahitian black-lipped oysters, also known as Pinctada margaritifera. These stunning coloured pearls often grow to larger sizes, and their unique hues make them highly sought after for bold and contemporary jewellery designs.
South Sea Pearls
Produced in the warm waters of Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, South Sea pearls are among the largest pearls available. They boast a luxurious and creamy lustre, with shades that range from white to golden. Their size and rarity make them a favourite for high-end jewellery creations. When it comes to Brisbane pearls, our jewellery features many South Sea pearls for maximum aesthetic impact.
Unlike their saltwater counterparts, freshwater pearls are cultivated in mussels found in rivers, lakes, and ponds. They come in a variety of shapes, including baroque and off-round, and are renowned for their affordability and diverse colour palette
Keshi (meaning “poppy” in Japanese) pearls are small, non-seeded pearls typically formed as by-products of pearl cultivation. Composed entirely of nacre, they are less valuable, but also beautiful in their own way.
The Process Of Harvesting Pearls
The cultivation of pearls, both natural and cultured, involves a delicate process that requires patience and expertise. In the case of cultured pearls, a small piece of mantle tissue from a donor mollusc is implanted into the host oyster to create a seed around which the pearl can form. Over the course of several years, the oyster secretes layer upon layer of nacre, gradually forming a pearl.
Harvesting typically involves carefully opening the oyster or mollusc to retrieve the pearl. After extraction, the pearls are cleaned, sorted, and often subjected to treatments to enhance their colour and lustre. The oysters or molluscs involved in the pearl creation are either recycled and put through the culturing process again, or discarded, which is important to note for those who have environmental concerns.
Pearls In The Art Of Jewellery Making
Pearls have held a special place in jewellery creation for centuries, adorning crowns, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets of royalty and the elite. Their versatility is showcased by their ability to complement a range of styles, from classic to contemporary. For example Akoya pearls, with their roundness and lustre, are often used in traditional and elegant pieces. Tahitian and South Sea pearls, with their unique colours and sizes, lend themselves to more avant-garde and bold designs. Freshwater pearls, meanwhile, provide an accessible option for those seeking elegance on a budget.
At Argyle Jewellers, our Brisbane pearls showcase the very best that the sea has to offer. From iconic pearl earrings to statement rings adorned with shimmering golden pearls – and accompanied by stunning Australian pink diamonds, yellow diamonds, sapphires and more – we have the most prolific, beautiful jewellery pieces that are bound to be heirloom pieces within your family.