The Origin of the Cultured Pearl
Why is there a need for cultured pearls? Natural pearls are very rare and extremely valuable, only one oyster in forty may contain a pearl. A natural pearl starts as a foreign particle (a pebble, a fragment of a shell, or a grain of sand) in an oyster or mollusk. The particle irritates the oyster and it secretes a substance called nacre. The nacre protects the oyster from the particle. Over the years, layer upon layer of nacre adhere to the particle, which results in a pearl. Due to the rarity of natural pearls, only the wealthy and royal were able to afford them prior to the invention of “cultured pearls”.
In 1893, Kokichi Mikimoto, invented a viable technique for producing hemispherical “cultured pearls” in Japan. Mikimoto created this technique of seeding an oyster with an irritant, which is the only difference between a cultured pearl and natural pearl. Mikimoto seeded the oysters with a small bead of mother of pearl. He found that the pig toe clam shell from the Mississippi River has similar genetic properties to the Akoya Oyster he used, therefore it lowered the chance of being rejected by the oyster.
It took Mikimoto another 12 years to culture completely spherical pearls by also inserting a small piece of mantle lobe tissue from another oyster during the seeding process which begins to deposit a nacreous coating over the bead. These pearls rivaled the appearance of high quality natural pearls.
Today, the cultured pearl industry includes Akoya cultured pearls, South Sea cultured pearls and Tahitian cultured pearls produced by salt water pearl oysters, as well as freshwater cultured pearls produced by freshwater mussels.
Mikimoto helped advance the science of pearl cultivation and has remained synonymous with harnessing the allure of pearls for more than 120 years. Throughout this time, Mikimoto has become the world’s foremost producer of fine cultured pearls, not to mention a global leader in exceptional jewelry design incorporating these top-shelf gems of the sea. Today, the June birthstone owes much of to this Japanese legend.
Pro Tip: If someone happens to be selling a Mikimoto piece, make sure that they have a certificate of authenticity.
Mikimoto Pearl Island, Japan
Mikimoto Pearls Piece
We Specialize in Sparkle and Brilliance
Clean & Polish Services
“A basic clean, polish, and inspection is part of the routine care and maintenance needed to keep your jewelry looking like new. The inspection process includes looking for loose stones, bent prongs, and any damage to the metal or stones that need to be repaired.”
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Stone Setting Repair
“A stone setting repair can be a simple re-tipping of a worn prong (which is considered routine care and maintenance) or the complete rebuilding/replacing of a damaged prong. In the case of severe damage, the entire head of the ring may need to be replaced.
Regardless of whether or not the prongs are compromised due to normal wear and tear or a result of accidental damage, we can provide the routine care and maintenance in order to ensure you do not lose a stone in your setting.”
Pearl Replacement Services
“The process of a Pearl Replacement is simple enough, yet requires trained eyes to be able to make a flawless switch. We aim to leave no trace of our work, which means not only will your setting be perfected, but the sapphire we choose will complete your jewelry piece effortlessly.”
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