Shinjyu Jewelry Company - Arden Arcade, Sacramento 95825

The Many Varieties of Pearls

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Pearls, whether cultured or natural, may also be thought of as either freshwater pearls or as saltwater pearls and may be found in oceans, lakes, or rivers.
You can find both saltwater pearls and freshwater pearls for jewelry in a extensive variety of shapes and colors.

* MABE, blister, or shell pearls are cultured pearls grown against the inside of the oyster’s shell rather than within the tissue. They are usually seen as an hemispherical shape with a flat back. Mabe pearls are often assembled in order to increase durability.

* KESHI PEARLS are coreless pearls formed in saltwater or freshwater after an oyster expels an implanted nucleus. Keshi pearls are partially-formed pearls that develop without a nucleus and so are all nacre. This variety of pearl is usually small in size and may be found in many different shapes and colors. "Keshi" is the Japanese word for “poppy seed.”

* AKOYA PEARLS are the consummate cultured saltwater pearls from white-lipped oysters raised in Japan and now in China. These pearls range in size from 2 mm. to 10 mm. Those over 10 mm., when found in a gem quality, are to be treasured. They are usually pinkish white or cream colored and spherical in shape.

As to difference between Japanese Akoya Pearls and Chinese Akoya Pearls, Mitsuko prefers the quality of Japanese Akoya Pearls. While the Chinese quality is improving in sizes up to 8 millimeters, Japanese Akoya pearls of 8.5 millimeters and above are of superior gem
quality and so command a premium.

* TAHITIAN CULTURED PEARLS are from black-lipped oysters raised in warm waters. Tahitian cultured pearls may be found in sizes ranging from 8 mm. to 14 mm., They display many attractive shades of silver-gray, green, peacock , or black. Jewelry featuring Tahitian pearls will enhance many skin tones.

* SOUTH SEA CULTURED PEARLS are the largest cultured pearls, many ranging from 9 mm. to 18 mm. in size. They are often found in delightful colors: white, cream, silver-pink and gold.

* ABALONE PEARLS are commonly blue and green but also occur in other interesting color combinations of red, pink , purple, magenta , silver and cream white. The abalones producing these pearls grow off of the coasts of California and Mexico.

* SCALLOP PEARLS are maroon/plum in color and may be found in scallops off the coast of Baja, California.

* CONCH PEARLS are usually pink, yellow brown,white or golden. A salmon-color orange-pink is the most sought after. Though they are not in the strictest sense pearls, they are known as pearls when used in jewelry.

* MELO MELO PEARLS are from the Melo Melo Marine Snail found in the South China Sea and the Bay of Bengal. They are usually tan to dark brown, with orange being the most desirable color.

* BIWA PEARLS are freshwater pearls. The term ”biwa” often is used nowadays for freshwater pearls in general. Originally, however, “biwa” was the term used exclusively for freshwater pearls from Lake Biwa. Lake Biwa production began in 1914. Now though, the Biwa mussel is virtually extinct because Lake Biwa has become so polluted. In fact, this lake is no longer used for pearl production. Fortunately, other varieties of mussels provide us with freshwater pearls from other Japanese lakes.

* JAPAN KASUMI PEARLS are freshwater pearls from Lake Kasumi-ga-Ura, forty miles northeast of Tokyo. They are baroque pearls displaying a wide range of natural colors.

* AMERICAN NATURAL PEARLS come in both white and fancy colors, displaying overtones of blue, green and rainbow. They may be found in many baroque shapes. However, the finest specimens are very symmetrical .

As to the history of the culturing of saltwater and freshwater pearls, records indicate that cultured sea water pearls first were produced in China around the 13th century and that rounded freshwater pearls were first produced by Carl von Linnaeus about 1721.

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