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Cultured Pearls vs. Natural Pearls: A History of Creation

Pearls, nature's wonderful gifts, come in two different forms: natural and cultured. While natural pearls are rare treasures created by chance in nature, cultured pearls are the result of a harmonious collaboration between nature and human ingenuity. At MIRA we focus on cultured pearls from the sea, an area where the art of cultivation meets the mystery of the ocean.

Cultured pearl from the sea
  • Cultivated in the seas, especially in oysters.
  • They are more likely to be perfectly round and symmetrical.
  • High shine due to the thicker mother-of-pearl.
  • Larger shape
  • Wide range of colors including white, gold and black.
  • Rare and considered valuable gemstones.
  • Longer cultivation time (2-4 years or more).

Freshwater pearl
  • Cultivated in lakes, rivers and ponds, especially in mussels.
  • Often irregular or different in shape.
  • They are less shiny than seawater pearls because the nacre layer is thinner.
  • Typically smaller
  • Mostly white, some are colored by industrial injection
  • More common occurrences, hence common accessories.
  • Shorter breeding time (3-6 months)

On the Mohs scale of hardness, which ranges from 1 (softest, like talc) to 10 (hardest, like diamond), pearls range between 3½ and 4½. This means that pearls are relatively soft and can be easily damaged if not handled with care.

In contrast to freshwater pearls, which are often viewed as a mere accessory, our cultured pearls belong to the elite group of 7 gemstones, the only ones that come from living beings.

The 7 gemstones of the world

  1. diamond
    The most famous of all gemstones, the diamond, has been valued since ancient times as a symbol of purity and eternal love.
  2. ruby
    Rubies are another ancient gemstone valued for their rich red color.
  3. emerald
    Emerald has long been known as the most beautiful of green gemstones and is now considered one of the most valuable raw materials in the world.
  4. Cat's eye
    Also called cymophane, cat's eye chrysoberyl or chatoyan chrysoberyl, this stunning gemstone is extremely rare.
  5. sapphire
    Trace elements such as titanium, iron and magnesium give it its characteristic blue hue.
  6. Pearls
    Pearls have an organic and not a geological origin. Instead, they are formed when irritants, such as a piece of sand, enter an oyster or other mollusc. To protect itself against the irritant, the mussel covers it with a layer of its liquid secretion.
  7. alexandrite
    Due to its ultra-rare color-changing qualities, this stone takes pride of place among the seven gemstones.

The splendor of cultured pearls from the sea

We are dedicated to offering cultured pearls from the sea, including the famous South Sea, Akoya and Black Tahitian pearls. Each variety tells its own story: from the majesty of South Sea pearls to the sophisticated elegance of Akoya pearls to the exotic charm of black Tahitian pearls. Our pearls are not only a symbol of luxury, but also a heritage of beauty and finesse.

Pearls are primarily composed of calcium carbonate, which is bonded to a protein known as conchiolin. They also contain a small amount of water. Under a microscope, a pearl's surface shows a pattern similar to the contour lines on a map, called ripples. Each bead has a unique wave pattern that makes each bead distinctive.

The Pinctada pearl family

1. South Sea pearls
  • Latin name: Pinctada maxima
  • Production time of a pearl: 2-4 years
  • Pearl size: 9mm to 20mm
2. Akoya pearls
  • Latin name: Pinctada fucata
  • Time to produce a pearl: 1-2 years
  • Pearl size: 6mm to 8mm
3. Black Tahitian Pearls
  • Latin name: Pinctada margaritifera
  • Time to produce a pearl: 2-3 years
  • Pearl size: 8mm to 16mm

Pearls and their connection to you

Wearing pearls more often enhances their beauty as they combine with your skin's natural oils, enhancing its shine. Caring for pearls is effortless: a simple wipe with a soft cloth after wearing will keep them in pristine condition and protect them from everyday elements.

The journey of a pearl: from oyster to jewel

Each pearl's journey begins in the shell of an oyster, where layers of nacre accumulate to form a shiny jewel. This process, whether natural or cultivated, is a testament to the wonders of nature and human endurance. At MIRA we bring these wonders from the depths of the oceans into your hand.

A spectrum of possibilities: from golden champagne rays to midnight mysticism

Our collections feature a variety of colors and sizes, from the golden shimmer of white-lipped oysters to the mysterious depths of black-lipped cultured pearls. Each pearl, whether a brilliant white South Sea pearl or a fascinating black Tahitian pearl, is a tribute to the unique environment in which it thrives and to the different species of oysters.

Yes, only a few species of oysters can produce pearls, such as the Akoya pearl oyster and the black-lipped pearl oyster. The Akoya pearl oyster is used for pearl farming in Japan and has a yellowish-green or black-purple shell. The black-lipped pearl oyster has a large shell with a pearly sheen and a black edge. It thrives in warm waters and is found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The white-lipped pearl oyster is the largest and produces large "South Sea pearls". It is found in the eastern Indian Ocean and the southwestern Pacific.

AKOYA pearl oyster
Black-lipped pearl oyster
White-lipped pearl oyster

Pearl farming: creating the future

Pearl farming is a meticulous process that requires careful selection and cultivation of oysters. Pearl oysters have a shiny interior called "nacre."

Our breeders are dedicated to raising these oysters, providing them with the ideal conditions to produce pearls of unsurpassed quality. This commitment to excellence is reflected in every pearl we offer.

Pearl farming involves transplanting a piece of one oyster's mantle lobe into the soft tissue of another oyster. This piece of mantle then begins to secrete nacre, the shiny substance from which pearls are formed. If a round bead is desired, a small spherical core is placed near the shell piece. Over time, the pearl sac forms around this core and secretes layers of nacre, creating the pearl. The size of the pearl is determined by the size of the core and the thickness of the nacre layer.

How we choose the best mother oysters for breeding:

The oyster must be free of infections.

The oyster has a well-shaped, intact shell.

The shell should be free of splinters.

The oysters should have rich, healthy flesh inside.

At MIRA South Sea Pearls we invite you to discover the world of pearls, where each gemstone tells a story of creation, beauty and enduring elegance. Discover the magic of these oceanic treasures and let them bring a touch of sophistication into your world.

Evaluation of the pearls

At MIRA Südseeperlen we base our evaluation on the 7 value factors of the GIA, which have a decisive influence on the value of a pearl. These factors are:

  1. The size: Pearls are measured in millimeters. For spherical beads we measure the diameter, while for other shapes we measure the length, width and sometimes depth.
  2. The Shape: Pearls are divided into three main shapes: spherical, symmetrical and baroque, with seven standard shapes.
  3. Color: The color of a pearl consists of three elements: body color, overtone and orient. Body color is the main color of the pearl. The overtone is a translucent color that overlays the body color, while the orient is an interplay of two or more colors that creates an iridescent effect. Not all pearls have all of these color characteristics.
  4. Luster: This refers to the quality of light reflected from the surface of a pearl, characterized by its intensity and sharpness.
  5. Surface: Pearls often have surface features or irregularities. These are assessed based on the size, number, location, visibility and type of defects. While some blemishes only affect appearance, others can affect both appearance and durability. It is rare to find pearls that are completely free of blemishes.
  6. Thickness of the nacre layer: The quality of the nacre layer is judged by its thickness and its layering. Thin nacre may be visible through the core or may cause a chalky appearance due to thinness or poor layering.
  7. Consistency: This factor refers to the uniformity of the beads in a piece of jewelry, with an emphasis on consistency with the other six factors. Achieving perfect matching requires time and an extensive inventory to assemble the beads for a single strand, even if the design calls for an intentional mismatch. The match can significantly affect the value of a pearl, although it does not apply to individual pearls.

    Source: GIA


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