Cultured Pearls: Everything You Need to Know

Due to their symmetry and affordability, cultured pearls are a well-liked substitute for real pearls. When something outer gets inside an oyster through the cracks on the shell's rim, a natural pearl is created within the oyster in the water. Because of this discomfort, the oyster has to defend itself by forming a covering of material known as "nacre." After ranging from three years to six months, the layers eventually combine to generate a pearly shine.

Conversely, cultured pearls need human assistance. Although not naturally occurring, they are naturally generated in water and carefully nurtured in lab pearl sacs, where their size and shape are constantly checked.

Thus, the second primary distinction between cultivated and natural pearls is their size and form. The alternatives to naturally occurring pearls are consistent and appear "too good to be true," but naturally occurring pearls have distinctive, organic forms and are frequently rough to the touch.

Being the only gemstone produced within a living thing, pearls are incredibly rare. Pearls are frequently compared, and you've undoubtedly heard the terms "natural" and "cultured" used to describe them. The fact that cultivated and natural pearls are genuine should not be overlooked! The methods used in their production are what separates the two.

Still unclear? You're covered; continue reading to become an expert on pearls.

A Cultured Pearl: What Is It?

Real, authentic pearls created by an oyster or other mollusc shell with human intervention are called cultured pearls. To cultivate pearls, a pearl farmer must carefully place an irritant in the shape of a small bead known as a nucleus. A fragment of mantle tissue is introduced into the reproductive organ of the shell after this. This is where nacre layers develop.

A Cultured Pearl: What Is It?

The 19th century saw the introduction of the pearl-culturing method, which is now done by knowledgeable pearl farmers and technicians at pearl farms.

Lyndon Brown, one of the founders of Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm, was among the first Australian pearl technologists to become proficient in pearl growing and subsequently did it commercially.

A pearl with any human intervention is said to be cultivated. They are created by implanting a fragment of mantle tissue into a mollusc and allowing it to develop in fresh and salt water. The substance will get layers of nacre covering it as the mussel grows, giving it a glossy look. A completely formed cultured pearl may be seen before the pearl is harvested and the tissue is removed. This procedure can take two to three years.

The Background of Cultured Pearls

The Sung Dynasty in ancient China is where the history of "man-made" pearls was first known. The cultivation technique was akin to the contemporary custom of introducing an alien object—in this case, a lead Buddhist statue—into the freshwater mussel shell.

They travelled the Silk Road to Europe in 1637 when their affluent clientele snapped them up. The following two centuries were devoted to diagnosing pearl formation and developing manufacturing techniques by fascinated European scientists keen to comprehend the enchantment of pearl creation.

The first person to successfully patent a variant on the manufacturing of cultivated pearls was the Japanese businessman Mikimoto Kichi in 1916. As soon as the technique was used commercially, Akoya-cultivated pearls became well-known in Japan. A particular kind of tiny oyster called Pinctada fucata was the source of the first akoya pearls.

These days, both China and Japan employ hybrid molluscs to make akoyas. Akoya pearls are extremely well-liked and found in jewellery throughout the world.

Cultured Pearl Types

As previously indicated, Akoya cultured pearls are the most widely available variety of saltwater-produced pearls in Western markets. They are the most popular pearls for strand necklaces because of their symmetry and white and cream hues.

The countries of Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines are the main producers of South Sea Cultured Pearls, which are created in saltwater. The type of oyster used is determined by its colour, which can vary from white to golden to silver. This kind of pearl may be expensive since the best growing circumstances are hard to come by, and they can take a long time to mature fully.

Tahitian Cultured Pearls are mainly found in French Polynesia. These saltwater pearls come in various colours, ranging from pink, blue, green, or purple to grey, black, or brown.

The most widely manufactured artificial pearls are freshwater cultured and widely utilised in jewellery making. They are cultivated in many sizes, shapes, and colours and are frequently reasonably priced. They are cultivated in freshwater lakes and ponds most of the time.

Are Cultivated Pearls Genuine Pearls?

The answer is no—cultured pearls are not real pearls. They aren't natural but may be made with the same components as other synthetic polymers. Natural pearls are created when a mollusc becomes annoyed by a sand grain or other material that gets inside its shell.

They are made by purposefully introducing an irritant into the body of a pearl oyster to induce the production of a stunning gem inside the oyster's shell. Approximately two years are needed for the procedure, and one pearl is produced every three tries. Additionally, cultured pearls are more reasonably priced for the typical consumer than real pearls.

What Distinguishes Cultured Pearls From Natural Pearls?

The process used to create them separates genuine pearls from imitations. When items pierce molluscs' shells, they get inflamed and produce pearls naturally. People can produce cultured pearls when they irritate the mollusc's delicate body tissue.

There are several distinctions between artificial and natural pearls. These include:

Shape Variations

Natural pearls can have a variety of shapes, including spheres, teardrops, and cones. The majority of the time, cultured pearls are half-spheres or perfectly spherical.

Variations in Colour

Natural or artificial Pearls are ranked from A to D. However because they are fake, you may make them in whatever colour you choose. There are certain limitations on the colour and form of natural pearls. Cultured pearls come in various hues and are frequently bigger than their natural counterparts.

The colours that shine in each natural pearl vary according to the type of seashell used to create it. Cultured pearls range from almost white to pinks and beiges as you go up into yellow and green tones, albeit their colour fluctuation can't match their natural counterparts.

Variations in Lustre

The lustre and brightness of a real pearl are amazing. Conversely, cultivated pearls are not quite shiny and have a duller lustre.

Variations in Cost

One benefit of artificial pearls over natural pearls, when compared to natural pearls, is that their production is less expensive. Because of this, you ought to be able to find them for less money than you would have to spend for a naturally produced product.

How Can You Determine Whether A Pearl Is Natural Or Cultured?

Examining its surface is the most popular method for determining if a pearl is cultivated. A character is a cultivated pearl if it has a distinguishing line. The oyster's piercing where the nucleus was inserted is where the bar is located. Since the mollusc has nothing artificial injected into it, this line does not occur with natural pearls.

Observing how a pearl responds to UV light is another useful indicator of whether or not it has been farmed. Natural pearls do not react to UV light; cultured pearls will shine fluorescently.

Purity testing is one method of determining if a pearl is grown; it examines imperfections in the pearl to provide more precise results.

How Are Cultured Pearls Produced?

The process of creating cultured pearls is comparable to that of creating real pearls. Creating artificial pearls involves introducing a nucleus into the mollusc in a laboratory setting with strict controls. It allows experienced pearl growers to create more than they could with natural processes. Because artificial pearls can be created in large quantities and sold for less money than their natural counterparts, some believe they are more valuable.

Cultured Pearl Benefits

  • They are a less expensive, non-plastic substitute for real pearls.
  • In addition to being long-lasting, cultured pearls need relatively minimal upkeep.

Drawbacks of Cultured Pearls

  • Compared to natural pearls, they are less valued.
  • Matching cultured pearls' colours, shapes, and sizes can also be challenging.
  • In addition, artificial pearls are more prone to chipping, flaking, and nicking than real pearls.
  • If the pearls are not properly cared for, pits or black stains may also appear.

Natural pearls: what are they?

A natural pearl is discovered in the "wild" and develops naturally, unaided by humans when an irritant inadvertently becomes trapped in an oyster or mollusc shell. This irritant, a fragment of coral or the end of a crab claw, triggers the shell's defence system when it gets inside. The shell secretes layers of a material known as nacre as a defence mechanism to shield itself from this irritant. Over several years, this covering of nacre covers the irritant that has made its way inside the shell and gradually turns it into a pearl.

Expert pearl divers gathered seashells from the ocean floor in the late 1800s to locate priceless pearls. As previously mentioned, pearls are formed by a shell as a defence mechanism to confine and neutralise irritants that have made their way inside the shell, making finding a natural pearl an extremely unusual occurrence. When this happens, the irritant becomes covered in nacre, and the shell then tries to "spit" the irritant out. Because of this, most shells try to release the irritant after they are coated in nacre, which might increase the rarity of discovering a genuine pearl.

All consider real pearls exceedingly uncommon, and the majority can only be obtained on the antique market.

Cultured vs natural pearls

Natural and cultivated pearls are biologically produced by the same process of stacking nacre, which is the material released by the shell. The primary distinction between the two is that, whereas cultivated pearls are created by humans inserting an irritant known as a bead or nucleus, an unintentional irritation creates natural pearls. Thus, the nacre secretion process method distinguishes produced pearls from natural pearls. The distinction between cultivated and natural pearls is quite elusive. Obtaining a definitive answer requires an official gemological X-ray examination.

Whether a pearl is produced or natural, its general colour and appearance are controlled by the shell species. Natural pearls vary from cultivated pearls because they may not be as well-shaped or spherical and have a more "organic" or baroque aspect. This is a result of the oyster's nucleus being implanted roundly. Nevertheless, as oysters are living organisms, spherical pearls are uncommon and cannot always be guaranteed!

The rarity of cultivated vs natural pearls is another distinction. These days, practically every pearl you come across is cultivated. Natural pearls are extremely rare since almost all of the world's natural pearl beds have already been depleted by overharvesting, and most natural pearl-producing shell beds are no longer in existence.

Saltwater pearls are also rare, even if natural pearls are uncommon. This is particularly true for South Sea pearls, which generate a single pearl on average in four years, making them around 1000 times rarer than diamonds.

Because cultured pearls can be farmed without causing the decline of wild oyster populations, they are a more ecologically friendly method of pearling. According to studies provided by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), each pearl farm annually filters 2.7 billion litres of water, removes 225 kg of nitrogen and phosphate, produces 375 kg of fresh fish for consumption, provides a new home for over 100 marine species, and removes 10,000 kg of carbon.

What distinguishes the various pearl evaluations?

As previously said, the procedure for cultivated and natural pearls is identical when the irritant is inserted into the shell. This indicates that produced and natural pearls have the same qualities and lifespan.

Our responsibly farmed South Sea and Akoya pearls are among the best in the world. They are cultivated locally. Not only are our pearls rare, pure, and breathtaking to look at—but they have been meticulously cultivated over many years by our team of highly skilled pearl farmers. Moreover, they are among the few precious gems on the planet that can regenerate and restore our oceanic environment.

As a result, when you buy a pearl from LBJ, you're getting one of nature's most exquisite and rare gifts and assisting in the restoration of our pristine Australian waterways, which is the goal of both establishments. Although produced by humans, the beauty and brilliance of cultivated pearls make them extremely valuable. This makes them ideal for pearl rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and strands.

Our Australian-grown pearls are rare, pure, and lustrous and have a pedigree that few collections worldwide can match. Combining these obvious and subtle characteristics with our exquisitely designed jewellery designs, we produce items that will be cherished for many years.

What kinds of pearl jewellery are there to choose from?

Pearls are a popular jewellery option since they are traditional and ageless. Pearl jewellery comes in various styles, from delicate and modest pieces to striking and eye-catching creations. The following are a few varieties of pearl jewellery that you may select from:

Pearl necklaces

The most common type of pearl jewellery is undoubtedly a pearl necklace. These necklaces are available in various lengths, styles, and colours, from basic single-strand designs to intricate multi-strand and choker versions.

Pearl necklaces

Pearl earrings

A sophisticated and classic piece of jewellery, pearl earrings complement any outfit. They may be worn with formal and informal attire and are available in various forms, including drops, hoops, and studs.

Pearl bracelets

A delicate and feminine piece of jewellery, pearl bracelets may elevate any ensemble. They may be combined with other bracelets to create a stacked design. They are available in various forms, such as cuffs and bangles.

Pearl rings

Suitable for any ensemble, pearl rings are timeless and traditional jewellery. They can be set in white gold, silver, or platinum and come in various forms, including cocktail, cluster, and solitaire.

Pearl pendants

Whether showcasing a single pearl or a cluster of pearls, pearl pendants are a stunning option. They may be combined with other necklaces or worn alone for a stylish effect.

What kind of pearl jewellery is most in demand?

One particular style of pearl jewellery stands out as being the most well-liked: the traditional pearl necklace. It's easy to understand why this classic item has stood for sophistication and elegance for so many years. A well-matched string of pearls may quickly make any clothing seem better and give you a glamorous appearance.

Although the traditional pearl necklace is perhaps the most recognisable item, many other varieties of pearl jewellery are also in great demand. For instance, subtle and adaptable pearl stud earrings suit everything from jeans and casual wear to a formal gown. For those wishing to infuse their accessories with a hint of elegance, pearl rings and bracelets are well-liked options.

Whatever style of pearl jewellery you decide on, the most important thing is to choose premium pearls that have been expertly chosen and strung by craftspeople. Personalised silver jewellery is frequently a fantastic option as it enhances the piece's quality and looks stunning when paired with pearls.

Adding the appropriate pearl jewellery to your collection may give every ensemble a hint of classic elegance.

Which metals are typically used to create jewellery with pearls?

Silver and gold are the metals most frequently used to create pearl jewellery. Both metals complement the delicate and shimmering beauty of pearls. Silver is popular because it matches every pearl and has a sleek, contemporary appearance.

Conversely, gold is a timeless option that may provide pearl jewellery cosiness and elegance. The pearl is already exquisite, but both metals may be worked into elaborate patterns. The final decision about the type of metal is made based on the wearer's preferences and the intended overall design of the jewellery piece.

How can I distinguish between a real and a fake pearl?

Knowing how to tell a real pearl from a fake is crucial if you're trying to purchase one. The following advice may be useful to you:

Examine the pearl's surface:

imitation pearls have a drab, granular appearance, but real pearls have a glossy, smooth surface.

Examine any flaws:

Whereas imitation pearls are often flawless and devoid of faults, real pearls contain minute surface imperfections.

Look at the form of the pearl:

While imitation pearls are frequently precisely round or uniform in shape, real pearls are rounder and varied in shape.

Examine the pearl's weight:

A lightweight pearl is likely false since real pearls weigh more than imitations.

Verify the drill holes:

Whereas imitation pearls have smooth edges, real pearls have small, jagged edges surrounding the drill holes.

Conduct the dental examination:

Gently press the pearl on your teeth. It's most likely real if it feels grittier. It's probably phoney if it feels silky.

These pointers can help you quickly determine if a pearl is authentic or fake. Recall that while imitation pearls are sometimes too good to be true, real pearls are distinctive and available in various sizes, shapes, and colours.

How should jewellery made of pearls be cleaned?

Pearl jewellery is a traditional piece that never goes out of style and elevates the outfit. Pearls, however, are fragile and need particular attention to keep their brilliance and beauty. The following advice will help you take good care of your pearl jewellery:

Steer clear of chemicals:

Pearls are delicate to chemicals, such as cosmetics, hairspray, and perfume. These materials can potentially harm a pearl's surface, resulting in discolouration or a loss of shine. It is advisable to wear pearl jewellery after putting on your makeup. Wipe your pearl jewellery carefully with a soft towel after wearing it to get rid of any oils or grime.

Avoid using abrasive objects or strong chemicals when cleaning your pearls, which might cause surface damage. Pearls should be stored carefully since they are susceptible to high and low humidity. Keep your pearl jewellery out of direct sunlight and in a cool, dry area to avoid damage. Pearls can also be kept in a jewellery box with a soft fabric lining or pouch.

Wear frequently:

To keep their brilliance, pearls must be worn often. Your skin's natural oils can assist in maintaining the greatest possible appearance for your pearls.

Get them professionally cleaned:

It could be time to clean your pearl jewellery if it becomes excessively filthy or loses its shine. Your pearls may be securely cleaned and their brilliance restored by a jeweller.

The same guidelines apply to maintaining pearl jewellery, whether it is natural or artificial. Pearls should always be kept from chemicals, washed gently with a soft cloth, stored carefully, worn frequently, and professionally cleaned when needed. If you take good care of it, pearl jewellery will complement your style for years. These gems are indisputable in their beauty and grace. Properly caring for your pearl jewellery will sparkle for many years, bringing a touch of timeless elegance to any ensemble.

FAQs for Cultured Pearls

Are Pearls Cultured Identified as Fake Pearls?

Indeed, even if created with human assistance, cultivated pearls are still regarded as genuine. Because genuine pearls are significantly rarer, more one-of-a-kind, and thus more expensive, most pearl jewellery today is made of artificial pearls.

Do Cultured Pearls Have Any Value?

Cultured pearls are far less expensive than natural ones, even though they are both regarded as genuine. They are raised in oysters under strict laboratory conditions in either freshwater or saltwater, and their value may range from $50 to over $165,000.

How Can You Determine Whether a Pearl Is Cultured or Natural?

The artificial pearls will have flawless symmetry. On the other hand, natural pearls will have an entirely distinct form. If unsure, use the tooth test to press the pearl against your tooth gently. It should feel silky if it is cultivated. It will be coarse and grittier if it's natural.

In natural bodies of water, pearls form without the help of humans. They are quite uncommon and often seen in vintage jewellery. Due to direct human involvement, cultured pearls are significantly more prevalent and may be produced in pearl farms.

How Can You Determine Whether a Pearl Is Cultured or Natural?

What's true about pearls that have been cultured?

In actuality, nearly every type of pearl that is marketed nowadays—including freshwater pearls—is grown. As stated differently, there isn't much distinction between freshwater pearls and farmed freshwater pearls. The habitat in which they are created—freshwater or saltwater—makes them different.

What should I look for in a cultured pearl purchase?

A high-quality cultivated pearl should have a brilliant, not dull, lustre that combines surface brightness with a deep-seated glow. On the surface of a cultivated pearl, your reflection ought to be easily visible. Any pearl that seems too dull or chalky is of poor grade.

Final remarks

Cult cultured pearls are ideal if you desire the beauty of a pearl without the expensive cost. Additionally, they are a great choice for people allergic to actual pearls or want an eco-friendly substitute for real pearls.

The main disadvantage of cultured pearls is that they could need to be replaced sooner than natural pearls due to their decreased durability. They are nonetheless a desirable and reasonably priced choice. Contact us for comprehensive assistance in selecting the ideal pearl for you, and peruse our jewellery crafted from cultivated pearls.