- CAPTIVATING BEAUTY
- HOW PEARLS ARE CULTURED
- FRESHWATER PEARLS
- AKOYA PEARLS
- TAHITIAN PEARLS
- SOUTH SEA PEARLS
The pearl really is one of nature's true wonders. The reflections of light from thin translucent layers beneath a pearl’s surface create a series of unique shimmering colours that are found in no other gemstone.
The thickness of these layers, made from an organic substance called nacre, is caused by how long the pearl is grown in the oyster. Generally, pearls with the greatest thickness of nacre will have the deepest iridescent lustre.
At Winterson, we hand select pearls from the best quality harvests in each of the most important pearl producing regions around the world. We search for pearls that are particularly distinguished by the quality of their lustre.
HOW PEARLS ARE CULTURED
The creation of a natural pearl starts with an itch. When a small seed of material such as a piece of shell or coral, a skeleton of plankton, or a parasite becomes trapped within an oyster or mussel's shell, nature gets to work. The shellfish slowly deposits layers of nacre around the source of its irritation.
Highly skilled procedures for culturing pearls in oysters and mussels have been developed to replicate this natural process, bringing these fabulous gems within the reach of many. Once the culturing process has been started in the shellfish, the pearl farmer has little control over of the final size, shape and colour of the pearl produced. The colour of a pearl mainly reflects the type of oyster or mussel that the pearl is cultured in. Each pearl produced is unique and individual.
Freshwater pearls are mainly cultured in China in freshwater mussels, which are farmed in rivers and streams, and make captivating pieces of jewellery. They are produced in a variety of shapes and a dazzling rainbow of colours that includes shades of white, orange and pink.
The best quality freshwater pearls can sit comfortably alongside the finest Akoya, Tahitian and South Seas pearls.
The iconic Japanese Akoya pearl, having been the very first cultured pearl, is probably the most well known type of pearl. These pearls have a classic beauty and are prized for their subtlety and grace.
The proportion of round pearls produced by the Akoya oyster is relatively high and the pearls are found in various shades of white including overtones of pink, cream and silver. The oyster itself is small in comparison to other species and produces just one pearl of between 3mm and 10mm in diameter in each oyster. Their size, lustre and colour mean that Akoya pearls are very well suited to making classic designs of pearl necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
The most exotic and original of pearls are farmed in the warm lagoons of French Polynesia. Confusingly also known as black pearls, Tahitian pearls are produced in many mysterious colours such as silver, grey, pistachio, peacock and aubergine.
Combined with classic round and baroque shapes, these colourful pearls have become highly fashionable and sought after in recent years. Tahitian pearls are regularly grown between 8 and 18mm in diameter, becoming more valuable with increasing lustre and size.
SOUTH SEA PEARLS
South Sea pearls are amongst the most luxurious of pearls, with a thickness of nacre and large size that is unmatched by many other pearls.
The most popular colour of South Sea pearls is white, combined with delicate overtones of silvers and pinks, and is produced by the silver-lipped oyster found in deep ocean waters from Thailand to Australia. The yellow-lipped oyster, found off the coast of the Philippines and Indonesia, produces gold pearls with overtone colours of peach and even red.
South Sea pearls are the largest pearls being cultured today, typically being found in sizes between 8mm and 16mm and sometimes even exceeding 20mm in diameter.