Is Mother of Pearl a kind of Pearl? What are their difference in terms of material, price and use? Where to find the best pearl in market? Let us explore the beauty and knowledge about Pearls and Mother of Pearls.
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Differences Between Mother of Pearl vs Pearl
Due to the mechanism in which pearls are formed, people are often confused by the terms Pearl and Mother of Pearl. Mother of pearl, or nacre, refers to the substance secreted by certain bivalves in response to foreign bodies. When we say the mother of pearl or nacre, we refer to the iridescent layer found in the inner side of nacreous bivalve mollusks. This layer can be just as beautiful of fully formed pearls, and they are composed of aragonite platelets and various organic compounds generated by shellfish.
Pearl farmers manually insert the nuclei of pearls in a process called nucleation. The seeds or cores of the pearls that will eventually emerge in the oysters follow the ancient measurements of the Japanese pearl cultivators of old. The nucleus of pearls is said to measure one “bu”, which in the modern metric system is 0.003 millimeter.
The time needed to create the actual pearls varies, but don’t hold your breath, because they do take a while before they’re ready to be harvested. Pearls require anywhere between 24 months to seven years before they’re ready, depending on the method used and the type of bivalve being farmed in the first place.
Pearl culturing has been around for centuries, and the pearl farmers of today strive to create the most ideal conditions for their oysters so that the highest quality nacre is produced, and the resulting pearls will be able to fetch hefty sums in the jewelry market.
While the pearl farmer is waiting for the pearls to be ready, he has to take care of all the oysters and he has to make sure that they’re healthy and fed well daily. Surely, this profession is not for everyone, but for those who have mastered it, the wait is nothing compared to the sum that mother of pearl and pearls can fetch in the global market.
Typically, older oysters produce larger and more valuable pearls in the long term, farmers or cultivators are careful not to harm any of the older oysters when they are harvesting smaller and less valuable ones. When the oysters are finally ready to relinquish their pearl loads, they are collected from the water and are sent to harvesters.
Pollutions in River lead to Pearl farming relocation
What many people don’t know is that both nacre and pearls are cultivated and harvested in remote locations throughout the world. This became necessary as modernity progressed because the bivalves that can produce the most beautiful nacre and pearls require clean and unpolluted waters.
As large river systems became more and more polluted, pearl cultivators were pushed back to even more remote locations just so they can culture their pearls in peace, without worrying about the negative impact of water pollution on sensitive nacreous bivalves. This is also the reason why many companies involved in pearl cultivation are also involved in environmental conservation. Because if all the freshwater systems become polluted, it would no longer be possible to culture pearls as we know them.
So when you buy pearls, think not only of the iridescent beauty of nature’s creation but also of all the time and effort that went into ensuring that these natural wonders see the light of day. You are paying not only for the mother of pearl but also for the efforts of the people who took care of the oysters daily for years.
The iridescent shell of oysters that produce pearls are referred to collectively as the mother of pearl, and these are no longer considered commercial byproducts or waste of pearl farming. The mother of pearl is standing up well on its own as a luxury material that is sought out by so many manufacturers throughout the world.
Nacre is used for watches and other fashion accessories, and the demand for mother of pearl is consistent year-round. Unlike the usual boom and bust pattern that is to be expected with the manufacturing life cycle in every industry, nacre producers harvest and ship year-round just to satisfy the needs of factories here and abroad.
How Much Are They Worth?
Nacre shells can be purchased from manufacturers en masse, online. The cost of 100 pieces of nacre pearl shells (discs/circular) is $7-$9 per piece. You will notice how inexpensive nacre is compared to fully-formed pearls, which can fetch thousands of dollars easily.
In other websites, it’s also possible to purchase natural mother of pearl discs for $1-$30 per disc. Manufacturers also sell specialized discs for watches and other similar jewelry, so if you’re thinking of using nacre or mother of pearl for your DIY jewelry, you can get these iridescent shells at a good price online.
Pearl jewelry, on the other hand, is a different ballgame altogether. The price of pearls depends on the variety at hand. South Sea pearls are among the most expensive in the world, with sets fetching anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000. Tahitian pearls are also considered valuable, and necklaces can cost as much as $25,000 depending on the size and quality of the pearls.
Akoya pearls are legendary for their beauty, and also have legendary price tags. Some Akoya pearl sets can be relatively affordable at $300, but some sets can fetch a glimmering $10,000 in the market and auctions. If you are looking for something more affordable, we recommend looking for freshwater pearls, as these are cheaper. You can get freshwater pearl jewelry for as low as $50. The larger pieces with more pearls can cost around $2,000.
Affordable freshwater pearls come in different colors, and they can look identical to the famed Akoya pearls that are more expensive. Should you invest in pearl jewelry? Like precious and semiprecious stones, you can invest in pearls to ensure the stability of your wealth, because pearls, like gold, barely changes the value and there is a large market for high-quality pearls all the time. You can buy pearl jewelry auctioned off or sold, and you’re still going to get a good price either way.