For centuries pearls were regarded as the most valuable material on earth, as no two of these natural wonders are alike. The English word unique is derived from the Latin “unios”, a word meaning “singular” or “unique”, which has been used to describe “a large, fine pearl”.
Although there are two types of pearls: natural and cultured, today natural pearls are a true rarity. In the late 19th century several methods of pearl cultivation were invented, the most famous and successful being the Mikimoto method developed in Japan. Japanese saltwater pearls are cultivated with Akoya oysters, and the survival rate, which is less than 50%, is the lowest among all oyster varieties. Less than 5% of Akoya pearl output can be considered “high quality.”
The cultured pearl process begins when a shell nucleus from a pigtoe mussel (the mussel species that provides the most successful nucleus) is inserted into the pearl oyster. This irritant causes the oyster to secrete and encircle the nucleus with multiple layers of nacre, and over time the nucleus is transformed into a pearl. After the “seeding” process, the pearl farmers place the oysters in wiremesh baskets and suspend them in the sea, lovingly monitoring and tending their charges in the hope of producing high quality pearls. Pearls are harvested after about 18 months to 3 years, depending on the required size and quality.
Pearl.jp’s expertise is saltwater cultured pearls. It is important to reiterate that the nacre in both cultured and natural pearls is the same coating (meaning they are both essentially natural). This means that the main difference is that with cultured pearls the process starts with human intervention and monitored in a controlled environment. If you have any questions regarding the process please feel free to contact us.