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Natural vs. Cultured Pearls

Natural vs. Cultured Pearls

When choosing pearls, there are two types often people will consider – natural vs. cultured pearls. Without doing extensive research, people are often confused about the differences. Often customers wonder are cultured pearls ‘real’, how they are different, which ones are better and how to choose. First, cultured pearls are natural pearls; the only difference is the way they are formed. Secondly, both natural and cultured pearls are valuable gemstones. Today, cultured pearls are some of the most popular jewellery options for people, known for their elegance and beauty.

Natural pearls are formed when a tiny irritant such as sand, or dust from surrounding water is trapped inside the shell of an oyster. As a defence mechanism, the oyster would protect itself and produce layers of secretions. This process is what develops into natural pearls.

Historically, only the extreme rich were able to afford pearls. To collect them, divers would plunge into deep waters and scouring the ocean floor, often risking their lives without a guarantee they would find anything. Sometimes one would open 10,000 oysters to find one decent natural pearl, which explains the price tag attached to these pieces.

Luckily, in 1893, a Japanese man – Kokichi Mikimoto discovered a way to mimic the natural behaviour of Oysters by injecting irritants directly into the soft tissue, triggering the natural process. From there, pearls are formed, the same way they would in the wild. Pearl farmers could now produce different pearl colour, sizes and shapes; and also create ones with different overtones, surface quality and lustre; all factors that affect the value of a pearl. This offers customers an affordable option while maintaining the same beauty and elegance of their natural counterpart.

Today, cultured pearls are categorized into four main types – Akoya Pearls, Freshwater Pearls, Tahitian Pearls and South Seal Pearls – each with their unique characteristics. VAYO offers an extensive collection of fine cultured pearls in a variety of styles and options for you to choose from.

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