The word on the street?
We are thrilled to hear so many people talking about pearls, but are all the tales true?
Does sand really play a part in pearl production?
Are pearls really made from the tears of Gods?
How many layers of nacre does a cultured pearl have?
Did Cleopatra’s pearl really dissolve in wine?
Lets start at the beginning. Pearls are the result of self preservation!
They are not caused by the emotional tear ducts of Gods, nor are they commonly started by a grain of sand. Let us remember where an oyster lives …in an environment full of …sand! If sand caused pearl production the poor old oyster would never be able to breathe without making a pearl!
Pearl production is actually started when a piece of shell, coral or bone hooks into the flesh of the oyster, breaking through the epithelial cell barrier; or when a parasite makes its way through the shell ducts and breaks the epithelial cell barrier. The self preservation mechanism of the oyster will try to expel the intruder but if it is unable to dislodge it, the oyster’s epithelial cells will form a pearl sac around the foreign body and cover it in layers of nacre, which are thin translucent layers that reflect the light creating the pearl‘s distinctive lustre.
So, how many layers of nacre does a cultured pearl have? Hundreds, nay thousands! Yes you can find some pearls that will have very few layers, say a few dozen, but those pearls will be greatly lacking in lustre, most probably showing dull patches throughout.
Here at Coleman Douglas Pearls our Pearl Team hand pick all our pearls for their great lustre, thickness of nacre, colour and surface perfection.
Did Cleopatra really dissolve one of her pearls in wine?
No. Champagne is more acidic than wine, yet when we have placed pearls in flutes of champagne we have never had a pearl dissolve on us… Seriously the only way to dissolve a pearl in liquid is to crush it and leave it for a few hours in pure lemon juice.
Cleopatra’s reason for consuming the pearl was to show Mark Anthony that Egypt was beyond conquering. As pearls were extremely valuable, and in this case one of her pearls would have been worth a kings ransom.
If you would like to learn more about pearls, come and join us for one of our Pearl Talks at 42 Beauchamp Place, London, SW3 1NX.
Chrissie Douglas, our Pearl Specialist and Designer, will talk about the different types of pearls you can find, how and where they are made, how to tell if a pearl is real or not, how to find the perfect pearl for you and much, much more.