Pearls used in the making of better jewelry are either natural or cultured, and are available in different sizes, shapes and colors. There are also faux (French for “imitation”) pearls available in a wide range of materials, the most popular being glass beads with numerous coatings of fish scales. James Avery never uses imitations. We have certain criteria and standards for the pearls we buy. We hope this information will explain more about your new purchase of pearl jewelry from James Avery.
Pearls are probably the oldest gem known to man. It is believed that pearls were sought after and worn as long as 5,000 years ago. Natural pearls are formed when an irritant, like a sand particle or parasite, accidentally enters an oyster (saltwater) or a mussel (freshwater). In a defense response, the mollusk begins secreting nacre (pronounced nay-ker, a word for the thin layers of a shiny, smooth substance made of calcium carbonate) in an attempt to cover the offending object. Due to the odd shape of the irritant entering the mollusk, the pearl that is created by this continual layering of nacre will almost always be misshapen, or baroque. Only in very rare cases will a natural pearl occur in a round shape, making naturally formed pearls very expensive. Therefore, almost all of the pearls used in better jewelry today are cultured pearls. We only use cultured pearls in our jewelry designs.
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