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Common Freshwater Pearls

Biwa Pearls: These were the first freshwater pearls to be cultivated by Japan in Lake Biwa. After this started a wave of pearl production all over the world which is continues to this day. Though excessive harvesting and environmental pollution caused the destruction of the lake and the mussel producing the pearl has also nearly become extinct. So the Biwa production has stopped.

But the name today signifies original and good quality pearls. The name Biwa pearl is due to its place of origin and it is rare to find Biwa pearls today. Keishi Pearls: This is a word of Japanese origin meaning Poppy seed. These pearls are formed when the mollusk ignores the implanted piece and does not coat it with nacre. Instead it creates a pearl by itself which leads many to believe that the Keishi is a natural pearl.

The size of the Keishi pearl can vary from 1mm to 10mm depending on the mussel hosting the implant. They can be found in irregular shapes but have a high sparkle and luster. Mabé Pearls: At times cultivators implant a half moon plastic piece into the mollusk resulting in the formation of half pearl.

This pearl, called a Mabé pearl is harvested, the plastic implant is carefully separated and then the hollow half-pearl is filled and covered with a mother-of-pearl piece. Mabé pearls are used to make mounted jewellery where the whole pearl does not show. Mabé pearls are fragile, inexpensive and do not have a high luster or sheen but are very economical and can create dramatic pieces of jewellery. Blister pearls: Sometimes pearls grow from the side of the shell resulting in half-pearls, but these are not hollow. They are similar to the Mabé pearls but with a greater coating of nacre and are more durable since they are not hollow but have complete nacre inside and out.

These pearls have a better reflection of light due to the heavy coating of nacre and this means greater luster. Rice or Seed Pearls: Tiny pearls resembling puffed rice, these look wonderful as multi-strand necklaces with dramatic pendants. The rice pearls are uneven in shape but once they are strung together in strands they look exquisitely beautiful. Other shapes of pearls are Button pearls, which appear like buttons and at times have circular designs imprinted on them. Unusual shapes such as the Potato stick shapes are those resembling tiny French fries.

All these different shapes and designs are extremely affordable and match with all occasions and dress types. In the recent times, the Chinese cultivators are producing beautiful round Freshwater pearls which are at par in quality and size with their saltwater counterparts. This has led to an expansion in the freshwater pearls market even replacing the saltwater pearls which are generally more expensive.

Vivian Liu is the owner of Wholesale Fashion Jewelry and Fashion Jewelry, Costume Jewelry.


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