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Pearl Classification

Before your price a pearl, you should know, for example, if it's saltwater (from the oceans, see, gulf or bay) or if it's freshwater (form a river, lake or pond) good saltwater peals. For example, south Sea and Japanese Akoya can cost several times more than freshwater pearls of similar quality and size. One of the reasons for this is that one mussel in a lake can produce as many as forty freshwater pearls in one harvest. An oyster in the sea typically produces one or sometimes two saltwater pearls at a time. It should be noted, however, that some strands of large round pink freshwater pearls have retailed for over $1000. Natural pearls are more valuable than cultured pearls for their rarity.

Whole pearls are much more valued than blister pearls - those which grow attached to the inner surface of a mollusk shell and three-quarter pearls - whole pearl that have been ground or sawed on one side, usually to remove blemishes. Mabe pearls are made from blister pearls by removing the interior, filling it with a paste and covering it with a mother o pearl backing. These assembled pearls offer a big look at low price, but they're not as durable as the assembled pearls, which are higher priced.

By oyster's species, origin, shape and color, Pearls are further classified into the categories below:

1. Nature pearls - pearls are grown in wild oyster in nature.

2. Cultured pearls - pearls are made by nature with the help of man.

3. Freshwater pearls - pearls are found in mussels or oysters in rivers, lakes or ponds and tend to be more irregular in shape and more varied in color than pearls found in saltwater oysters.

4. Saltwater pearls - come from oysters in oceans, seas, gulfs, bays and salt lakes. The best-known example is the Akoya pearls.

5. Oriental Pearls - Natural saltwater pearls found in sea-water pearl oysters called the wing shell in West Asia Area, e.g. in the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf or the Gulf of Mannar off the west coast of Sri Lanka.

6. Akoya Pearls - Cultured saltwater pearls from the Akoya oyster (Pinctada fucata martensii), although called Japanese pearls, they can also be found in oysters outside Japan.

7. South Sea Pearls - Used sometimes as a general term signifying any saltwater pearl found in the large Pinctada maxima oyster in the area extending from the Philippines and Indonesia down to Australia and across to French Polynesia, as well as China south sea

8. Black Pearls - Natural dark color (not dyed) from the black-lip (Pinctada margaritifera) oyster in the Western to Central Pacific Ocean or from the La Paz pearl oyster (Pinctada mazatlanica) or rainbow-lipped oyster (Pteria sterna) in the Eastern Pacific between Baja California and Peru. Some people use the term "black pearl" to refer to any dark colored pearl, dyed cultured pearl or natural color pearl.

9. Tahiti pearls - pearls produced in Pinctada margaritifera (most commonly known as the black lipped oyster) in the lagoons of Tuamotu and Gambier in French Polynesia.

10. Biwa Pearls - Freshwater pearls cultivated in Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake. They have been noted for high quality, but their production has come to a standstill Because of pollution of Lake Biwa .

11. Kasumiga' Pearls, also been generically called Kasumi pearls, named after Lake Kasumigara, north of Tokyo, where they are cultured in Hyriopsis schlegehi x Hyriopsis cumingii hybrid mussels. These nucleated freshwater pearls range in size from 11-16 mm and in color from purple to pink to white to gold. they are only available in limited quantities.

12. Blue Pearls - Dark-colored pearls found in oysters such as the Akoya or silver-lip oysters. The color is due to foreign contaminants in the nacre or between the nacre and shell bead nucleus unlike black pearls whose color is an inherent characteristic of the pearl nacre.

13. Half Pearls - "Whole pearls that have been ground or sawed on one side, usually to remove blemishes" (as defined in The GIA Jeweler's Manual). If the sawed pearl looks too large to be a half pearl, it's called a three-quarter pearl. Half and three-quarter pearls are priced lower than whole pearls of the same shape and quality. Button- and acorn-shape South-Sea pearls have a flattened side which can make them look like a half or three-quarter pearls when mounted. The term "half pearl" is sometimes used to refer to blister pearls.

14. Blister Pearls - Natural or cultured pearls that grow attached to the inner surface of the oyster or mussel shell. When cut from the shell, one side is left flat with no pearly coating. (Some people apply the term "blister" only to natural pearls of this type. Tennessee is a major source of cultured solid blister pearls from American. Blister pearls are various in shapes and their nacre is thicker than that of mabe pearls, making them more durable.

15. Mabe Pearls - Assembled cultured blister pearls (pronounced MAH-bay). The blister pearl is cultured by gluing against the inside of the shell a half-bead nucleus (often of plastic or soapstone). Most large mabe assembled pearls come from the silver-lip or black-lip oysters, but technically the term "mabe" should only refer to pearls cultivated in mabe oysters (Pteria penguin).

16. "Mabe Blister - An informal term used by some Pearls" dealers to designate mabe pearls with a rim, making them resemble a fried egg.

17. "Rainbow pearls" - A trade name for pearls from the Western winged (rainbow-lipped) pearl oyster (Pteria sterna), which is noted for its high luster and rainbow-like colors.

18. Keshi - A general term used by pearl traders for pearls that grow accidentally in the soft tissue or the adductor muscle of cultured pearl-bearing mollusks.

19. Seed Pearls - Small, natural pearls which measure about two millimeters or less. They usually weigh less than 0.06 carat.

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