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Glossary

Akoya - A pearl from the akoya oyster.

Baroque - A pearl which is non-symmetrical in shape. The baroque pearl can be purely abstract in its shape, and therefore is the most tedious to sort for jewelry production.  Freshwater pearls are most commonly baroque.  Akoya pearls can also be baroque, but differ from that of a freshwater pearl.   The most valuable of baroque pearls are the South Sea and Tahitian pearls because the size of the pearls increases the depth of the nacre and the time necessary to produce the size of the pearl.

Bdellium - A biblical term for a pearl.

Bib - A pearl necklace of three or more concentric strands with the lowest strand a matinee lenght of 20-26".

Biwa - A freshwater pearl grown in lake Biwa in Japan.

Black Pearls - Natural colored pearls from the Black-lip, or La Paz Pearl, or Rainbow-lipped oyster.

Blue - A pearl grown in Abalone mussels or a dark colored pearl found in Akoya or Silver-Lip oyster due to foreign contaminants.

Bouton - A flat, round button-shaped pearl. (see Button)

Button - A pearl round in circumference, but slightly flat like a button. (see Bouton)

Chicot - A hollow blister pearl.

Choker - 14" to 16" in length. A pearl choker is a versatile length of pearls and can accessorize casual or formal attire, and flatter any neckline.

Conch pearls - A lovely, rare and valuable product of the giant conch, a univalve mollusk. Pink is the most desired color as they often exhibit a "flame" pattern on their surface.

Cultured - A pearl formed after a human puts a bead nucleus or mantle tissue into a mollusk.

Dome - A solid blister pearl grown around a mother-of-pearl nucleus on the inside of the mollusk shell; when removed, part of the surrounding shell remains. A very distinctive looking pearl, resembling a mabe with its domed shape, but much more interesting in appearance, and much more durable.

Dust Pearl - A very tiny pearl weighing a slight fraction of a grain.

Faux Pearl - A false pearl bead manufactured by coating the inside of a hollow glass sphere or the outside of a solid glass or plastic sphere with a pearlescent coating which is sometimes pearl powder.

Fine pearl - A pearl formed in the wild by the random intrusion of a natural irritant into a mollusk's shell. Also called wild pearl, natural pearl, oriental pearl.

Fluorescence - A gem or pearl that exhibits color under ultraviolet light is exhibiting "fluorescence." The color(s) of the fluorescence contribute to identifying natural and cultured pearls.

Freshwater - A pearl grown in a freshwater river, lake or pond mollusk (oyster).

Grain - The standard unit of weight once used for natural pearls. Four grains are equal to one carat. Carat weight is now generally used.

Harlequin pearls - Untreated round Chinese freshwater cultured pearls in a variety of natural colors strung together.

Irritant - If occurring naturally can be a minute snail, worm, fish, crab or other small particle. If introduced by man, usually a piece of mantle (membranous part that secretes nacre and covers the inner shell surface) for freshwater pearls. For those from the sea, usually the irritant is a shell bead (often from the Mississippi River) along with a bit of oyster mantle tissue.

Krisana - Term for pearl used in some ancient Hindu texts.

Low luster - Milky, chalky appearance.

Luster - The radiance of a pearl. The greater the luster the greater the value. High luster gives almost mirror-like reflections.

Mabe - A blister pearl which has been hollowed out and filled with a substance and backing.

Majorica pearl - A high-quality faux pearl manufactured in Spain by Majorica, S.A.

Margarita - Means "Pearl" and also symbolizes purity, innocence and humility.

Matinee - A pearl strand 20" to 24" in length. Longer than the choker, and just a bit shorter than an opera length, the matinee necklace is the right choice for casual or business dressing.

Mother of Pearl - The smooth inner lining of a mollusk's shell, composed of nacre. Also called pearl shell.

Nacre (Nay-ker) - The substance that a mollusk layers around an irritant.

Natural - Pearls grown without human intervention.

Nucleus - The center of the pearl.

Opera Length - A strand of pearls 28" to 34" in length. As a single strand, it is perfect for high or crew necklines. When doubled upon itself, it serves as a versatile two-strand choker.

Parure - A matched set of jewelry, which might include earrings, a necklace, pendants, or other pieces.

Pearl Age - The Renaissance period between 1450-1650, when the immense popularity of pearls in Europe produced extravagant pearl fashions.

Princess Length - A strand of pearls 17" to 19" in length.  Although best suited for crew and high necklines, it also complements low plunging necklines.   It makes a perfect chain for a pendant or pearl enhancer.

Rope - A strand of pearls over 45 inches long, the rope pearl is very luxurious. You can have clasps along the length to help you break it down into shorter necklace and bracelet combinations but, on its own, it's breathtaking.

South Seas Pearls - White South Sea cultured pearls are grown in large tropical or semi-tropical oysters in Australia, Myanmar, Indonesia and other Pacific countries and are considered the most exotic of cultured pearls. They generally range in size from 10mm to 20mm and command premium prices because of their relative rarity and large size.

Surface quality - Refers to blemishes, gloss and consistency on the surface. A strand without any blemishes is rare.

Tahitian - Tahitian cultured pearls are grown in a variety of large pearl oysters found primarily in French Polynesia. Their beautiful, unique colors (which can range from light gray to black, and green to purple) and large size can command very high prices.