Pearls – Gems of the Ocean

Pearls are the gems of the ocean

Gemstones can be found all around the globe. From the steep ocean cliffs in Madagascar to Oregon’s outback in the United States. From the deepest jungles of Brazil to the freezing cold of Siberia.
But, not all gems are found on land. Pearls are being discovered in the waters of some of the most exotic places on earth. Beaches with white sand, crystal clear waters, and Palm trees bending in the winds of the ocean. Places such as French Polynesia, the Philippines, or Mandalay in Australia.

Freshwater and saltwater

Pearls exhibit a great variety of colors and shapes. The spectrum includes colors such as cream, gold, a slight pink, or even black. Additionally, “most commonly known is the white pearl”, explains Vanessa Kreis.
She continues to explain that, even though freshwater pearls make up ~ 95% of the worlds available gems, saltwater pearls are the most valuable and account for the remaining 5%.

“We basically distinguish three types when it comes to saltwater origins. There we have the Akoya pearl from Japan. These are fairly round and have an almost metallic luster [a shiny, soft glow]. Named after the biggest island of French Polynesia is the Tahiti Pearl. This one is very dark and has a very fine luster. The Southsea Pearl is from Downunder. The most renowned area is Mandalay in the north-west of Australia. They are renowned for their size and white color”, explains gemmologist Vanessa Kreis. All three of these pearls are from different types of Oysters. Regarding the colors, these are predetermined by the Oyster’s genetic predisposition.

The creation of a natural pearl

So, how does a pearl come into being? “Sitting at the bottom of the Ocean, an Oyster opens itself up and starts to filter the water. This makes the inside of the Oyster vulnerable to particles within the stream of water. A natural pearl starts to develop once the inner mantle of the Oyster has been damaged by such a particle. Against conventional wisdom, the particle will not be encapsulated. A natural pearl consists solely of “nacre”. A material based on a structure of calcium carbonate and protein”, explains Sonja Kreis.

“Finding a pearl which has formed naturally in the Ocean is a rare feat. Usually, 1 in 10000 Oysters yields a pearl, viable for jewelry. Still, this say’s nothing about the quality of the pearl. Thus, we are striving for pearls that are as perfect as possible. Given that a pearl is a natural product, individual characteristics remain. But this makes it that more interesting”, elaborates Sonja Kreis.