The Passion of
Symbol of modesty, chastity and purity.
People have coveted natural pearls as symbols of
wealth and status for thousands of years. A Chinese
historian recorded the oldest written mention of natural
pearls in 2206 BCE. The spherical shape of some pearls
led many cultures to associate this gem with the moon.
In ancient China, pearls were believed to guarantee
protection from fire and fire-breathing dragons. In
Europe, they symbolized modesty, chastity and purity.
Pearl bodycolor varies by the type of mollusk it
is formed in. Although white pearls are the most
traditional, other colors are very popular. The main
bodycolor of a pearl is often modified by additional
colors called overtones, which are typically pink,
green, purple or blue. Some pearls also show the
iridescent phenomenon known as orient that adds
to the overall color.
Pearls may form in any mollusk. Not all pearls are of
the nacreous type commonly seen in jewelry. Conch,
Melo and clam pearls are all examples of non-nacreous pearls.
The GIA 7 Pearl Value Factors™
The qualities that determine the overall value of a
natural or cultured pearl are size, shape, color, luster,
surface quality, nacre quality and matching.
Akoya cultured pearls are grown in Japan and
China. Leading sources of South Sea cultured
pearls are Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Tahitian cultured pearls are primarily cultivated
around the islands of French Polynesia. China and
the United States are leading sources for freshwater
Pearls may be dyed, coated, bleached, filled or
irradiated to either enhance their luster or alter
the pearl color. Dyed cultured pearls are usually
detectable because they look artificial to the
unaided eye. However, dyed pearls of lighter
tones can be difficult to detect.