Akoya: Pinctada fucata - Akoya pearl oyster
When the mantle of a mollusc is naturally irritated by what may be an organism of microbe size, a "pearl sac" forms and isolates the irritant within the mantle. The mollusc secretes calcium carbonate, often in the form of nacre to cover the irritant. As the mollusc deposits further layers, the pearl gradually grows in size. Natural pearls occur randomly and most are usually irregularly shaped, showing its uniqueness.
Tahitian: Pinctada margaritifera - Black-lipped pearl oyster
Pearls are sea gems that form inside a living seawater or freshwater mollusc. They come in a dizzying array of sizes, colours and shapes. Treasures from the earth's rivers, lakes, seas, and oceans, pearls have always embodied the power and life-sustaining nature of water.
South Sea: Pinctada maxima - Silver- or gold-lipped pearl oyster
Caring for Pearls
With reasonable care, pearl jewellery can be a lasting treasure.
- For routine care, it's best to wipe pearls with a very soft, clean cloth after each wearing.
- Pearls should never be cleaned in an ultrasonic, steam cleaner or with anything acidic. It's safe to use warm, soapy water for occasional, thorough cleaning (assuming that the nacre is in good condition). If the pearls are strung, be sure the silk is completely dry before wearing.
- Store pearls separately from gems and metal jewellery, which may scratch their surfaces.
Freshwater: Hyriopsis cumingii, or hybrid
- Never store pearls in a plastic bag or wrapped in paper as it may contain acids. Plastic can emit a chemical that will damage the surface of pearls. The same is true of cotton wool.
- Never store pearls in a safe deposit box for a long time. Like your skin, pearls need a little moisture so that they will not dry out. So we advise moisturising them every so often if not worn regularly.
- Pearls can be damaged by many chemicals and all acids. The list includes hair spray, perfume, cosmetics and even perspiration. Always apply perfume, hair products and cosmetics before putting on your pearl jewellery.
- Remember: when dressing, pearls should be the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off.