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Guide for Pearl Terms

Add-A-Pearl necklace
Regularly adding one, or more than one pearls to a chain. Add-A-Pearl is a trademark of Juergens & Andersen Co., Chicago, IL.

Akoya Saltwater Pearl
The Akoya Saltwater Pearl is a saltwater pearl farmed in the waters of China, for smaller sized akoya pearls, and Japan, for the largest sized akoya pearls.

Water-cultivation of animals and plants.

Calcium carbonate found in nacre, in the form or a crystal.

Coral island and reef, that is ring-like,and nearly or entirely encloses a lagoon.

Dark grayish purple color. Usually refers to Tahitian Cultured Pearls.

Irregular shaped pearls. Many of these display a high degree of orient.

Bead Nucleation
Making a mollusk form a cultured pearl by inserting a bead and a piece of mantle tissue.

From Japan’s Lake Biwa, cultured pearls that once set the standard for high quality tissue-nucleated Freshwater Cultured Pearls.

Black-Lipped Oyster
The inside edges of the P. margaritifera shell (the mollusk that produces Tahitian pearls) and the edges, or lips, of the mantle tissue are black, earning this mollusk this descriptive term, or nick name.

Blink test
When the nucleus reflects light through its nacre, this test will identifiy the bead nucleated pearls.

Bottom System
Net panels attached to posts in the ocean floor that hold oysters.

Brail hooks
Hooks used to haul mollusks up from the water by the pearl farmers.

Button pearls
Round pearls with a slightly flattened shape.

Calcareous Concretion
An all Natural Pearl, without nacre.

A method of looking for the presence of a bead nucleus within a pearl by directing a concentrated light source through a pearl.

Chemical Composition
The types and relative quantities of atoms that make up a material.

Circled pearl
One or more ridged or grooved rings are visible around this pearl’s circumference.

Colored Stone
Any gem material (pearl, sapphire, topaz, etc.) other than diamond.

Organic “glue” that holds aragonite platelets together in nacre, and is similar to the material found in human hair and fingernails.

Cultured Blister Pearl
Cultured pearl which is dome shaped and cemented against the inside of a mollusk’s shell. At harvest, the resulting “blister” is cut away from the shell. The flat side of a cultured blister pearl is non-nacreous. It can be a product of a freshwater or saltwater mollusk.

Cultured Pearl
As a result of human intervention, a Cultured Pearl is a pearl that is formed inside an oyster/mollusk.

Changing or improving a gem’s color by adding chemicals. Pearls, agate, lapis, lazuli, and jadeite are commonly dyed gems.

Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence (EDXRF)
Identifying the chemical elements present in a material based on how they respond to X-rays.

Epithelial Cells
The mantle cells that secrete nacre in a mollusk.

Essence d’orient
Used to make imitation pearls, this is a mixture of clear varnish and fish scales.

Fashion jewelry
Jewelry made of materials other than precious metals, sometimes with imitation or synthetic gems. Also called costume jewelry.

A part or characteristic of a piece of jewelry.
Fisheries Department of Western Australia (FWA)
A government regulatory agency in Western Australia.

When some materials are exposed to higher energy sources such as UV light, X-rays, or lasers, they emit light.

Freshwater Pearls
Pearls created by freshwater mollusks, in a freshwater pond or lake.

Genetic diversity
One species with many different things included in the species.

GIA’s Pearl Description System
A grading system for pearls that is objective and universal.

Larvai from Freshwater oysters/mussels.

It produces eggs in female mollusks and sperm in male mollusks. A reproductive organ.

Graduated Necklace
A pearl necklace in which the sizes of the pearls are larger in the center, and decrease in size as one moves to the ends of the necklace.

Graft shed
A part of a pearl farm where the mollusks/oysters are nucleated and harvested by the pearl farmers.

Great Depression
In the 1930s, this was a period of economic lows and unemployment highs.

Hatchery spawning
Mollusks/oysters in manmade hatchery tanks, producing offspring.

First impressions/basic colors of a pearl.

Something that simulates a gem that could be natural or manmade.

Indonesian Pearl Culture Association (IPCA)
A production and marketing organization of Indonesian cultured pearl procedures.

An object that comes from, or is made of, non-living matter.

Changing the color of a gem by exposing the gem to radiation. Kunzite, tourmaline, diamond, and golden beryl are examples of gems that are often irradiated.

Land-based Farm
All of the personnel and equipment in a land-based pearl farm is mainly headquartered on land.

Long-line System
Horizontal lines floating in the water that have weighted oyster-holding net panels hanging from them.

A compilation that is made of a nacre dome, epoxy core, and mother of pearl back.

This is the part of the oyster/mollusk that produces pearl sacs and nacre. It lines the shell of the oyster/mollusk and encases the soft body.

A natural and non-living substance that has a characteristic chemical composition.

An invertebrate marine animal with either one or two shells.

Monster pearls
Very large pearls with an irregular shape.

Mortality rate
Frequency of deaths in relation to the total population.

The coating inside the mollusk/oyster’s shell that is made of nacre.

A freshwater mollusk with two shells that produces pearls.

This calcium carbonate and conchiolin substance is naturally produced by mollusks/oysters to make pearls and mother-of-pearl.The natural substance produced by mollusks to make pearls and mother-of-pearl.

Natural pearl
A pearl formed in the wild without interference by humans.

Natural spawning
Offspring being produced in the wild without interference by humans.

Net panel
A formation with a metal-frame-and-knotted-cord composition that stores and transports mollusks/oysters.

This is when the pearl farmers implant something foreign into a host mollusk to begin the making of a cultured pearl.

Sometimes called a grafter, this skilled worker implants foreign material into a mollusk - usually bead nuclei and mantle tissue pieces - that starts the nucleation process, and the making of a cultured pearl.

This is usually a bead from the shell of a freshwater mussel. It is used as the centre of most cultured pearls.

Living, or once living, or produced by a living organism. Pearls, amber, jet, ivory, and coral are examples of organic gems.

A two shelled saltwater mollusk. An Oyster is used to produce pearls.

Dark green gray or blue gray. This term is usually used to describe Tahitian Cultured Pearls.

This is a gem formed in the body of a mollusk/oyster. A pearl is organic and can be formed in either freshwater or salt water.

Pearl bracelet
A smaller strand of pearls, usually 6-8 inches, that is worn around one's wrist.

Pearl earring
An earring designed with either one or many pearls. Can be either dangle or stud style.

Pearl enhancer
A piece of jewelry designed to accent a strand of pearls. It is usually removable and could include gold or diamonds, etc.

Pearl Jewelry
A piece of jewelry made completely from, or partly from, pearls. Can be any type of pearls including Akoya, Freshwater, South Sea, and/or Tahitian.

Pearl Necklace
A necklace made of a strand or pearls, or a mix of pearls and other gems/substances.The most popular kind of pearl jewelry.

Pearl Producers Association (PPA)
A trade organization made up of Australian South Sea Cultured Pearl farmers.

Pearl Sac
This is what the mollusk uses to cover and enclose any foreign object - bead nucleus or mantle tissue - which secretes nacre to form a cultured pearl.

Pearl Set
A set of pearl jewelry usually includes a necklace, bracelet, and earrings made of the same size and colored pearls.

A Pendant is jewelry featuring any organic or inorganic gemstone that is suspended around the neck by a chain or metal wire.

Philippine Association of Pearl Producers/Exporters (PAPPE)
Association responsible for supervising the expansion and advertising of Philippine cultured pearls.

Pinctada Maxima
A pearl producing mollusk that is one of the largest of its kind. This mollusk produces South Sea Cultured Pearls.

Using red dye to shade a cultured pearl.

A term describing yellowish green or greenish yellow. It is usually used to describe Tahitian Cultured Pearls.

Found in mollusk shells, researchers believe this organic compound influences cultured pearl color.

Red Tide
An excess of plankton that poisons pearl producing mollusks.

Rose (pronounced ro-zay')
Pink overtone on a pearl.

The strength or intensity of a color.

Sea-based farm
The headquarters of this pearl farm are mostly based on a boat or pontoon.

Silk roads
Trade routes to and from China that run East and West

South Sea Pearls
Pearls that come from Australia and the South Seas area. They are larger sized pearls that range in color from golden to white.

South Sea Pearl Consortium (SSPC)
An educational and promotional association that represents the Australian South Sea Cultured Pearl industry

Mollusk larvae found in Saltwater.

Spat collector
Spat is attracted by and collected by this screen that is suspended in water.

Station necklace
Cultured pearls and/or other beads spaced out and positioned at regular intervals on a cord chain or wire.

Sustainable yield
The equilibrium between undomesticated oyster collection and the stability of the population.

A gem with the same properties as a natural gem, but is manmade.

Tahitian Pearls
A type of pearl that comes from the French Polynesian area of South East Asia. The pearl is a darker colored pearl, with colors ranging from dark yellow to green to blue to purple.

The classification of animals, plants, and minerals in an ordered system.

Tissue nucleation
Inducing a mollusk/oyster to make a cultured pearl by inserting a piece of mantle tissue or another foreign object.

The degree of how dark or light a color is.

Tooth test
Detecting pearl imitations by gently rubbing the pearl across your teeth. This method, though not very scientific, is fairly reliable.

Individual strands of cultured pearls that are twisted together to form a Necklace.

Value factors
Features used to judge the beauty and value of a pearl.

Wing pearls
Pearls of a longish flat wing shape. These are common amongst American river pearls.

A photographic imaging technique that uses X-rays to “see” inside objects.

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