Pearls 101: Everything you need to know!

 Pearls 101: Everything you need to know!

There are essentially three types of pearls: natural, cultured and imitation. They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but little do they know that girls love their pearls equally! From pearl earrings to a pearl beaded necklace, pearls are timeless. They are immaculately designed nature’s gift to humans. 

But, little do pearl wearers know about its origin, which is why we decided to break down the facts for you. Read ahead to find out more about the world’s most sought after ornament after diamonds!

But before we dive straight into the details of how each kind of pearl is formed, it is important to know that there are three kinds of pearls that exist: The Natural Pearl, The Cultured Pearls and finally The Imitation Pearl.

Natural Pearl 

Natural pearls form when a parasite or potentially foreign agent enters an oyster, mussel or clam. Like any other foreign object that enters a host’s body compelling the host to react against it, clams to work in a similar manner. As a defense mechanism, a fluid is produced inside a clam to coat the foreign particle that has decided to enter the clam. One layer after another is used to coat the irritant called ‘nacre,’ It is deposited until a glistening pearl is formed. 

Cultured Pearl

A cultured pearl as the name suggests goes through an artificial process. For creating a cultured pearl an irritant or foreign particle is surgically implanted into a clam. Sometimes it is a bead that is planted, or a piece of shell called Mother of Pearl. The nacre that is formed over the irritant is formed by the shell of a mussel. If someone wishes to produce a quality pearl then they need to wait for a time period of almost 3 years for the mussel to coat the irritant completely. However, there are pearls that are culturally produced, but because their process is rushed upon they are of low quality that is to say that these pearls are taken out within a year or less. 

The fun fact about gemstone quality pearl is that they are formed in salty seawater, hence any artificially manufactured pearl doesn’t carry the same sheen and shape as does the one extracted from clams in seawater. Traditionally, saltwater pearls are rounder and have a better, shinier and lustrous coat of nacre as compared to the ones formed in freshwater. Freshwater pearls are irregular in shape and have a non-glossy whitish appearance. Even though freshwater pearls are being improved upon thanks to science, new and improved farming techniques are making freshwater pearls rounder and glossier they still can’t compete with naturally made pearls. 

The culturing process usually takes several years just like the natural process. Mussels need to be mature when they are fed with an irritant. Once an irritant is placed inside a mussel the molding process can take up to 3 years to become full sized white glorious bead that you can decorate around your neck, or hand or finger. 

Fun Fact:
About only 5% of the pearls that exist today are actually true gems that are worthy of making jewellery from. 

Imitation Pearls

Imitation pearls are imitations. Mostly they are glass beads that are dipped into a solution that forms the white lustrous finish. Since they are like gold polished jewellery, they are prone to get scratched and wearing off even on the slightest contact with a sharp edge. 

Fun Fact:

To check whether or not a pearl is real you can rub it against your teeth. If you slide against your teeth then that means the pearl is pretty much fake. If it doesn’t glide and feels rough then that is the one to look out for. 

So, now you know why pearls are considered precious. Make sure to value the ones you have!


We offer a range of handmade Swarovski pearl earringsbracelets and necklaces. We also sell these as a set.

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