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Pearl

The Queen

Of Gems

Since ancient times, the pearl has been a symbol of flawless perfection purity, and natural beauty. It is the oldest known gem and for centuries was considered the most valuable. The Latin word for pearl literally means “unique”, since no two pearls are identical.

Pearls have been treasured for centuries by cultures, ancient and modern, around the world and have become important symbols of wealth, status and religious belief. Greek mythology proclaimed pearls to be tears of joy shed by the goddess Aphrodite. Ancient Egyptians associated pearls with Isis, the goddess of healing and life. The Romans and Egyptians prized pearls and used them as decorative items as far back as the 5th Century BC. Chinese records mention them earlier still. Cleopatra is said to have crushed a pearl into a glass of wine to prove to Mark Antony that she could give the most expensive dinner in history. According to some historians one of the reasons Julius Caesar invaded Britain in 55 B.C. was to obtain freshwater pearls. Almost all other gemstones are formed by mineral deposits that must be mined, cut, and polished to reveal their sparkling beauty. Pearls are the only gemstone which is grown inside of a living organism.

Natural

Pearls

A natural pearl begins its life as a foreign object that accidentally lodges itself in an oyster’s soft inner body where it cannot be removed. The oyster’s body takes preventive measures to “attack” the irritant and begins to secrete a smooth, hard crystalline substance around it in order to protect itself. This substance is called “nacre.”  As long as the irritant remains within its body the oyster will continue to accumulate nacre around it – layer upon layer, resulting in a lustrous gem called a pearl. Natural pearls are extremely rare and valuable. Most pearls today are cultured. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Japanese researchers discovered a method of producing pearls artificially.

Cultured

Pearls

Cultured pearls are formed in the same way in a process called nucleation requiring human intervention and care. This surgical procedure is performed by highly skilled technicians who carefully open live pearl oysters.  An incision is made in the oyster’s body and a tiny piece of “mantle tissue”, referred to as the nucleus, from another oyster is placed within the original oyster, into safe location. The cells from the mantle tissue develop around the nucleus forming a sack, which closes and starts to secrete nacre. The nucleated oysters are returned to the sea or special pearl ‘farms’ where, they feed and grow, depositing layer after layer of lustrous nacre around the nuclei implanted within them until they are harvested.

A Guide To

Types Of Pearls

Pearls have long been linked with true love, purity, the moon, angels and perfection. Historically worn only by royalty and the nobility, pearls today can be found in a kaleidoscope of colors, shapes and sizes to suit the fancy of every woman.

(click on an image below to learn more)

South Sea

Pearl

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South Sea Pearls

The South Seas lie between the northern coast of Australia and the southern coast of China. These waters are the native habitat of the large oyster, the pinctada maxima. This oyster grows up to 12 inches in diameter, and can be nucleated with a much larger bead than other saltwater oysters. There are up to three generations of pearls that can develop from one South Sea oyster. The first generation pearl that comes from a South Sea oyster takes an average of 4-6 years to culture and ranges from 7.5 – 14 mm in size. The second generation pearl takes 7-10 years and is much larger, 14-18 mm in size. The third generation pearl is even rarer, taking 20-30 years to culture. These pearls are the most valuable as they are the largest, ranging from 18-25 mm in size. Some have grown so large that they are no longer measurable on the pearl scale. South Sea pearls are also referred to as Salt Water pearls. Their colors are determined by the type of oyster in which they grow, as the pearl develops it acquires the same color as the inner lining of the oyster. Black and dark color pearls come from the seas around Tahiti, hence they are referred to as “Tahitian” pearls. Golden, champagne and butterscotch pearls come from around Indonesia and the Philippines.

South Sea pearls are among the largest commercially harvested pearls in the world.

Baroque

Pearl

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Baroque Pearls

The name ‘Baroque’ refers only to the unsymmetrical shape of the pearl; they can be either fresh water or South Sea pearls. Pearl farmers would once discard these pearls as they were seen as undesirable. It was only during the “Baroque” period, a time that celebrated the irregular and ornate, that these pearls found an elevated place in jewelry. Traditionally perfectly round pearls were thought to be more valuable than the irregular baroque pearl, but today, the value of baroque pearls has increased as buyers appreciate their unique, one-of-a kind shape.

If the pearl develops in a irregular way, it is referred to as a baroque pearl. This means it is not perfectly round.

Fresh Water

Coin Pearl

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Fresh Water Coin Pearls

Lake Biwa was once world renowned for its high-quality freshwater pearls produced by the Biwa pearl mussel, the Hyriopsis schlegeli. However, in the mid - 1970’s pearl farming in Lake Biwa came to a halt due to pollution. There are other coin or button pearls in existence today which come from other areas, but Biwa pearls are special for their exceptionally high level of luster. Their shape is flat because the mussel that produces them is flatter than a normal mussel. They are also able to adopt the shape of the nucleus that is implanted in them. Therefore, a nucleus in the shape of a heart or square will develop into a pearl that is in the shape of a heart or square. They come in shades of white, cream, peach and pink. Because the texture of a Biwa pearl is not as smooth as other freshwater pearls this makes them even more unique.

Cultivated in the famous lake Biwa in Japan, these pearls are unique in their high luster and flat shape.

Tahitian

Pearl

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Tahitian Pearls

The natural black or grey color of these pearls comes from the color of the oyster’s black lips. This oyster is very sensitive to the pearl culturing process, which makes the pearls both rare and expensive. Cultivated around the islands of French Polynesia, they usually range from light grey to black. Although Tahitian pearls are thought by many to be solely a product of Tahiti this is in fact not true. Although Tahiti is the commercial and trading center of the industry, it does not actually have any pearl farms on the island.

Tahitian cultured pearls are cultivated from the large black, pinctada maxima oyster, and produce very large pearls.

Akoya

Pearl

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Akoya Pearls

Akoya pearls are larger, smoother, rounder, and more lustrous than other Freshwater pearls. Their name comes from the Akoya oyster, the Pinctada fucata. They are cultured and grown in Japanese pearl farms. The champagne and butterscotch pearls come from around Indonesia and the Philippines.

The Akoya is the most classic looking pearl, commonly seen in pearl strands and earrings.

Keshi

Pearl

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Keshi Pearls

Keshi pearls are formed when the oyster rejects the implanted nucleus before the culturing process is complete, thereby producing unusual pearls without a nucleus. They are smaller in size and come in a wide variety of shapes and colors.

Keshi means tiny in Japanese and can grow in either salt water or freshwater.

Fresh Water

Pearl

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Fresh Water Pearls

Lake Biwa was once world renowned for its high-quality freshwater pearls produced by the Biwa pearl mussel, the Hyriopsis Schlegeli. However, in the mid 1970’s pearl farming in Lake Biwa came to a halt due to pollution. There are other coin or button pearls in existence today which come from other areas, but Biwa pearls are special for their exceptionally high level of luster. Their shape is flat because the mussel that they grow in is flatter than a normal mussel. They are also able to adopt the shape of the nucleus that is implanted in them. Therefore, a nucleus in the shape of a heart or square will develop into a pearl that is in the shape of a heart or square. They come in shades of white, cream, peach and pink. Because the texture of a Biwa pearl is not as smooth as other fresh water pearls this makes them even more unique.

Cultivated in the famous lake Biwa in Japan, these pearls are unique in their high luster and flat shape.

Soufflé

Pearl

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Soufflé Pearls

Soufflé Pearls are hollow, and therefore especially lightweight. They are produced by inserting a piece of sun-dried mud into the oyster around which the pearl develops. When Soufflé Pearls are removed, a small hole is drilled into the pearl so that any mud that might still be present inside is removed. the excess mud that might still be present inside the pearl.

Soufflé Pearls are grown in a variety of colors and shapes, and sizes; their magnificent metallic luster is rarely found in any other type of pearl.

The Yvel

Pearl Standard

Each and every Yvel pearl is examined and assessed by our experts.
Only the highest quality and most beautiful pearls are selected
to become part of an Yvel creation.

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