A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls. How aptly Coco Chanel expressed the "need" to own pearls in a beautifully ornate sentence. Pearls are a symbol of elegance and my lovely ladies will not dispute this fact.
However, now and then, I see people confused among natural, cultured, and imitation pearls. Trust me, this confusion might cost you a lot as pearls are an expensive affair. Here, I am going to give you a quick insight into different varieties of pearl available in the market.
1. Natural Pearls
No wonders, no doubts, this a lady's dream! Natural pearls are formed when a parasite enters a mollusk's soft mantle. Consequently, in order to protect itself from a foreign body, the mollusk cover the parasite with a sac and begin to form layers of nacre around it. Nacre is the iridescent material that is responsible for a pearl's strength and resilience. Freshwater pearls can take between 1 and 6 years to form; whereas saltwater may take between 5 and 20 years, and that explains why pearls are so valuable.
2. Cultured Pearls
Something as beautiful as pearls taking such a long time to form naturally is a test of human patience. So, it was pretty natural that humans will come up something to deal with this scarcity. Japanese found out and patented the art of pearl cultivation. It is a kind of farming that requires skilful hands and a patient mind. In this process, an irritant is placed manually inside a mollusk kept in captivation. This way, pearls are harvested in a greater number and the cost also decreases as compared to the naturally formed pearls.
Typically, cultured pearls may take up to seven years depending on the type of pearl. Often times, people doubt the realness of harvested pearls. Cultured pearls are as real as they can be, only the initial formation process is triggered with human intervention. Mollusk's reaction to a foreign particle and formation of nacre around it is a natural process.
3. Lab Created pearls
Takes two to create this variety of pearls; human skill and oyster shells. Oyster or mollusk shells act as a raw material which coated and polished to the final shape of the pearl. These are clearly artificial pearls, but they are in huge demand for their impeccable lustre, affordability, durable colour and flawless shape. With the hardness of 2.5 on Moh's scale, natural and cultured pearls demand intense care and protection from sprays, dyes, and even sweat. Lab created pearls are hard and can stand against harms of such material. At times, plastic and glass are used as a raw material in the manufacture. A generic term, collectively used for these factory made pearls is imitation pearls.