Natural Pearls vs Cultured Pearls - ICKINGER |

Natural Pearls vs. Cultured Pearls


Natural pearls, are pearls formed by chance. Cultured pearls have been given a helping hand by man. Today, nearly all pearls are cultured. By inserting a foreign object into a mollusc, pearl farmers can induce the creation of a pearl. From there, the same process of natural pearl creation takes place. The difference is that in this case, the inducement is intentional.


Natural Pearls


Natural pearls are the only gemstones grown inside of a living organism. Pearls are formed within oysters or molluscs when a foreign substance (most often a parasite – not a grain of sand) invades the shell of the mollusc and enters the soft mantle tissue.

In response to the irritation, the mantle’s epithelial cells form a sac (known as a pearl sac) which secretes a crystalline substance called nacre, the same substance which makes up the interior of a mollusc’s shell, which builds up in layers around the irritant, forming a pearl.

Natural pearls are extremely rare. Because the layers of nacre tend to maintain the irregular shape of the original irritant, natural pearls which are round or spherical are even rarer. Most natural pearls are irregularly shaped.

In a completely natural state, only a very small percentage of molluscs will ever produce a pearl and only a few of them will develop a desirable size, shape, and colour; only a small fraction of those will be harvested by humans. It is commonly assumed that one in ten thousand molluscs naturally produce gem-quality pearls.


Cultured Pearls Defined


Simply put a cultured pearl is any pearl grown with the influence of human intervention. In the early part of the 20th century, Japanese researchers discovered a method of producing pearls artificially.

Essentially, the method involves inserting a foreign substance, or nucleus, into the tissue of the oyster or mollusc, then returning it to the sea, allowing a cultured pearl to develop naturally. This practice was already quite widespread culturing hemispherical pearls known as mabe pearls.

Kokichi Mikimoto is credited with perfecting the technique for artificially stimulating the development of round pearls in Akoya molluscs, receiving a patent for this technique in 1916. Although patented in 1916 this technique has since been improved upon and used extensively throughout the pearling world – no longer simply used to cultured Akoya pearls, but freshwater, South Sea and Tahitian pearls as well.

Mikimoto opened the door to a greatly expanded pearl industry in which pearls could be farmed like an agricultural crop. These cultured pearls could now be produced in sufficient quantities to make them available to virtually anyone. The cultured pearl industry has now far surpassed that of the natural pearl industry.

Although a market still exists for pearls gifted to us by nature, these pearls are becoming more and more difficult to find, with rare full strands being auctioned for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Today, purchasing pearls from nearly any store in the world means purchasing a strand of cultured pearls.

Humans have been drawn to unusual and shiny objects since the birth of civilization. Why? Well because they are aesthetically pleasing, rich in history and represents a status symbol. And each of these birthstones has its own unique characteristics that we find very interesting. From pearls forming naturally overtime to the alexandrite having the ability to change colour in different light conditions. They are rare and hard to find, making owning them very special.


That’s why they are an industry leader in bespoke jewellery. Our team of experts are passionate about turning your vision into reality. We are meticulous and work with a high level of care and attention to detail. For more information on Alexandrite or Pearl gemstone, please feel free to get in touch with us at ICKINGER as we are more than happy to help.

At ICKINGER our team of experts will turn your vision into reality, creating a specially designed bespoke piece of jewellery just for you. We are meticulous and work with a high level of care and attention to detail. For more information on Alexandrite or Pearl gemstones, please feel free to get in touch with us at ICKINGER as we are more than happy to help.

May 27, 2020

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