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Pearls come in many shapes, sizes, and colors; and are a considered a classic when it comes to jewelry collections.
They are primarily of two types: natural, therefore, rare and very expensive; and cultured, which are created in a pearl farm. While the former does not require human assistance, both occur in fresh as well as saltwater. Cultured pearls are formed under a controlled environment and can take up to seven years to achieve perfect condition.
Natural pearls are quite rare. They outshine their human-assisted and harvested counterparts with their brilliant luminosity, and quaint sizes and shapes. Cultured ones have relatively uniform qualities but can turn out to be expensive depending on the pearl itself. Never mistake fake ones with cultured pearls as the former are usually made of plastic or glass. It is important to check the quality of the pearl; the finer it is, the more breathtaking it will be. Only finer pearls with a thicker nacre give off more luster.
Among those generally sold in the market are the Japanese Akoya, White South Sea, Black South Sea, Golden South Sea, baroque, conch and multicolor.
Companies such as Mikimoto use a standard grading system to ensure consumers know the exact quality of their pearls. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) applies the GIA 7 Pearl Value Factors™: size, shape, color, nacre, luster, surface, and matching.
Blemishes on a pearl include a crack on the surface, wrinkles or any flaw that is visible to the naked eye.
• Natural pearls are quite rare and very expensive
• Pearl quality is determined by a grading system
• Finer pearls with thicker skin give off more luster
Source: Sabin Muzaffar, Special to Classifieds
The writer is a freelancer