These are the the classic high quality pearls formed in the oyster the same way as natural pearls.
The only difference, is the irritant introduced by man (the nucleus is inserted into the oyster by man) and the oysters are raised in a controlled environment, on farms. Nowadays, the great majority of fine quality pearls sold, are cultured pearls. These pearls are more difficult to produce so rarer and more expensive. They usually have an extremely high lustre (shine) and are normally perfectly round in shape. Japan and China both produce saltwater Akoya cultured pearls.
Freshwater cultured pearls are grown in freshwater rivers and lakes.
Although the traditional source of pearls has been saltwater oysters, mussels which live in freshwater lakes and rivers are also capable of producing pearls. These pearls are generally less expensive when compared to their saltwater counter parts. Freshwater mussels are nucleated using a piece of mantle tissue only. The pearl develops around the mantle tissue, which can deteriorate in time, leaving a pearl that is composed almost entirely of nacre.
Freshwater pearls tend to have less surface lustre when compared to saltwater varieties, and are characterized by the reflection of rainbow colours in the lustre. Many freshwater pearls are oblong shaped, and known as “rice pearls”. They are generally less expensive than saltwater pearls.
Natural pearls, just as the name implies, were formed when irritant (such as a grain of sand, a piece of coral or seashell) entered the oyster by accident.
This is a pretty rare occurrence and doesn’t result in many jewellery quality pearls being available. It would be a rare thing to come across a natural pearl on the market today. It is normally only possible to tell the difference between a natural or cultured pearl by using x-ray techniques.
Proper care of pearls is not difficult if you remember that they are organic and produced by a living thing.
Pearls are soft and delicate, but when cared for with common sense, they will maintain their lustre. It is important that pearls should not come ito avoid contact with cosmetics, hairspray, perfume, chlorinated water, or other harsh chemicals.
To keep them clean, let them be the last item put on when dressing, and the first item taken off at the end of an evening. The best way to maintain their lustre is to wear the pearls often, and wipe them down with a soft cloth afterwards, pearls absorb the oils from skin, which helps keep them moist.
Pearls should be stored separately from other jewellery to prevent nicks or chipping. Periodically, pearl strands should be restrung since the thread used to tie the pearls together breaks down over time. Lanes offer a comprehensive re-stringing service.