What Is a Pearl?
Natural pearls form when an irritant – usually a parasite and not the commonly cited grain of sand – finds its way into an oyster, mussel or clam. As a defence mechanism, a fluid (called ‘nacre’) is released that coats the irritant. Layer upon layer of this nacre is released until a pearl is formed. Perhaps not the most glamorous back story, but the results are undeniably beautiful.
Pearls can originate in saltwater and freshwater and come in a range of colours, shapes and size. At Argyle, we have one of the largest ranges of pearl types available in Brisbane, including Akoya, Tahitian, South Sea, Mabe, Freshwater and Keshi Pearls.
Find out more about our pearl types below:
Akoya Pearls are well known for their perfectly round shape, white colour and sharp, reflective lustre. Akoya Pearls grow off the coast of Japan, and they have been the classic pearl of choice for nearly 100 years. If you imagine a pearl necklace, the image that came to your mind probably contains Akoya Pearls.
Tahitian Pearls are grown in French Polynesia – they are the only naturally-occurring dark pearls. Most Tahitian pearls that are referred to as ‘black’ are actually charcoal grey, silver, or dark green. A true black Tahitian pearl is extremely rare and considered to be one of the most beautiful pearls in the world. Tahitian pearls are also available in white and can contain undertones and overtones of green, pink, blue, silver and yellow.
In terms of shape, Tahitian Pearls come in drops, baroque shapes and ovals – round Tahitian Pearls are very rare.
South Sea Pearls
South Sea Pearls are grown primarily in Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia. They range in colour from white to gold and are the largest saltwater pearls grown today.
Due to their large size, perfectly round South Sea Pearls are very rare – they occur more commonly in forms like drops, baroque shapes and ovals. All of these shapes are considered highly valuable.
Mabe Pearls offer the over-sized and shimmering look of a natural South Sea Pearl for a fraction of the price. Instead of growing inside the body of a mollusc, Mabe Pearls grow against the inside shell. This process means that Mabe Pearls have a flat side and are not spherical. Because of this, they are often referred to as ‘half pearls’.
Mabe Pearls come in a range of colours and the unique ‘nacre’ of the Mabe oyster produces brilliant and rainbow-like hues.
Freshwater Pearls are grown in lakes, rivers and ponds. Cultured Freshwater Pearls are the result of an elaborate process in which tiny tissue grafts are implanted into the thick mantle of a live mussel. Our Freshwater Pearls are mostly round or oval shaped and look very similar to natural Akoya Pearls when worn – the only giveaway is that they are generally smaller and a little less symmetrical. Cultured Freshwater Pearls are beautiful and affordable.
Keshi refers to a shape of pearl, rather than a type of pearl, as is commonly believed. Keshi Pearls form for two reasons: one, when an oyster rejects and spits out the implanted nucleus before the culturing process is complete. Two, when the implanted irritant fractures and forms two separate pearl sacs – that is, circles of nacre – neither of which has a nucleus. The way Keshi Pearls form means that they do not have a nucleus and are therefore 100% nacre. This gives them an especially lustrous surface that remains unchanged throughout time.
Keshi pearls can form in either saltwater or freshwater molluscs. They are generally small in size and their shapes and colours vary widely – they can range from pure white to tones of grey, blue, green, pink and yellow.
Argyle Jewellers Pearls
If you are looking for a beautiful pearl necklace, bracelet or pendant to compliment your style, browse our range of pearl types now. We have pearls to suit any occasion, budget and taste.
Want to design your own piece of pearl jewellery? You can do that with our custom design service. If you have any questions about our pearl jewellery or our Brisbane jewellers, don’t hesitate to contact us.