The South Sea Pearl Blog
December 24, 2021South Sea Pearls are one of the rarest gems in the world. In this article I will try to disclose the reasons behind this.
December 24, 2021The Queen Mary Pearl ~ As a foremost authority in the testing of Natural Pearls , the SSEF has had the chance in the past few decades to see and analyse the most unique and outstanding natural pearls in the market, many of them of historic provenance, such as the Peregrina pearl , the Marie-Antoinette pearl pendant, and the Ana Maria pearl to name only a few. As a true highlight of this illustrious collection, we recently had the pleasure to analyse the Queen Mary Pearl, a drop-shaped Natural Pearl of 41.5 ct (166 grains) of finest quality and lustre. 🦪 Based on the provided documentation, this pearl is of historic provenance and is known as the ‘Queen Mary Pearl’, once owned by Queen Mary (1867- 1953). She had accumulated a collection of priceless jewels during her life and they were passed on to her only daughter.....
December 17, 2021Colour in cultured pearls has many causes, namely organic pigments and the chemistry related to the water reservoir where the pearl shell is grown (for example, sea water and freshwater have different manganese concentrations with impact on the color of the nacre). The pearl mollusc species is, of course, one of the most important factors in this process, specially the donor specimen that provides the mantle tissue graft (known as saibo) that is inserted in the gonads or mantle (depending on the culturing method) of a productive pearl mollusc for the formation of the cultured pearl sac. Experiments in xenotransplantation (meaning graft from one species in host mollusc of another species) have demonstrated that colour is controlled mostly by the genetic characteristics of the graft in cultured pearls.
Furthermore, understanding colour mechanisms is critical in the laboratory to determine if the colour of a pearl is natural or a resulto or a treatment (e.g. dyeing, heat, bleaching). The pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera typica has mantle tissue cells that secrete unusual earthy coloured nacre (seen in the oysters' mother-of-pearl shell interior), and thus the colours of those cultured pearls are also expected to be coloured in such a way.
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November 04, 2021
Mother-of-pearl has been used in decoration since pre-history as consequence of the capture of molluscs for food. In the modern ages, it became artistically used in marquetry, gaming chips, devotional artefacts, as a bead for the cultured pearl industry but also in the button industry. As buttons, it was rather popular before plastics came into action. Mother-of-pearl is the smooth nacreous iridescent coating on the interior of some molluscs and Pinctada maxima, the Australian South Sea pearl oyster (also known as pearl button oyster and mother-of-pearl oyster) has been a rather important source not only for the quality of the nacre but also because the wild shells have notorious sizes averaging between 20 and 30 cm up to 40 cm in exceptional cases. Although local shells in the north have been collected since pre-history, the pearling industry only started in Australia in 1868, especially in Queensland.
In the photos, a pearl shell sorter in Thursday Island, Queensland, Australia. Photo Frank Hurley © National Library of Australia ; and a series of Pinctada maxima shells being manufactured as buttons, from the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences collection (B&W picture from 1933 at the The Pearlbutton Manufacturing Co. Ltd in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia).