Pearl Goddess - Terminology

Pearl Terminology

Akoya pinctada fucata
The mollusk used to produce saltwater cultured pearls. It is found in Japan, China, throughout East Asia, the Indo-Pacific area, the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, Mediterranean Sea, South Africa and in the Caribbean
Biwa Pearls
Cultivated with Hyriopsis schlegeli in Lake Biwa, Japan, the country's largest freshwater lake. Environmental conditions have contributed to the demise of pearl production. Chinese "Biwa" have the characteristic softly rounded rectangular shape and are usually called "Biwa" even though they are not from Japan
FWCP
Commonly used abbreviation for freshwater pearls. FWCP is technically the correct form indicating that the pearls are freshwater cultured pearls.
Grafters
Technicians who cut strips of mantle tissue and insert it into the mussel or mollusk
Hyriopsis cumingii
The Chinese "triangle mussel" used as both donor of the mantle tissue and for culturing freshwater pearls
Iridescence
The interplay of light and color on the surface of the pearls in which the reflection and interference of light waves produce a rainbow of changing color. This is a component of orient
Luster
The most important quality in evaluating the beauty of a pearl. It is the reflection of light on the surface layers of nacre. The brightest reflections are the most desirable
Mollusk
Chiefly salt water invertebrates with a mantle, a soft body, and a protective calcareous shell pearls are grown in oysters, clams and abalone, all mollusks
Mantle
The tissue surrounding the soft body of a mollusk is also known as the epithelium. It is made of epithelial cells that secrete the nacre that forms the shell and forms the pearl sacs. In this way, the mollusk protects its delicate soft tissues from irritation or infection
Mussel
A generic name for certain types of freshwater bivalve mollusks with a dark, elongated shell. Most freshwater pearls are cultivated from the freshwater mussel family, Unionide. Today, the species most widely used is Hyriopsis cumingi
Nacre
The combination of microscopically think platelets of calcium carbonate crystals that are cemented together by conchiolin, an organic protein glue that creates nacre. This is the substance of which pearls are composed
Nucleus
Most freshwater pearls are tissue-nucleated using the mantle tissue of the mollusk. Some are shell-nucleated using a piece of preformed shell and a piece of mantle tissue. These are typically pearls in specific shapes of coins, squares, hearts, etc. Most saltwater pearls are implanted with a preformed sphere of shell and a piece of mantle tissue as well
Orient
As light rays strike the surface of a pearl, it interacts with each microscopic layer in a slightly different way. This interference causes light to break up into its component colors, much like a prism. This creates this rainbow effect or orient
Oyster
A bivalve, saltwater mollusk used for cultivating South Sea, Tahitian, Philippine, Australian and Akoya pearls
Pearl
A nacreous growth that forms around an irritant such as a piece of tissue and/or bead in order to protect the mollusk, and produces a pearl. If the irritant occurs naturally, the pearl is a natural/genuine pearl. Most pearls in the marketplace are grown by man and are cultured pearls
Pearl Farm
These are sites dedicated to cultivating pearls. Freshwater pearl farms nucleate mantle tissue and/or shell pre-forms in mussels and grow them to maturity in lakes. South Sea producers breed oysters in controlled conditions and nucleate them with a shell bead and mantle tissue. They are grown out in bays and oceans cared for to full maturity. In Tahiti, young oysters called spats are collected in lagoons for production. In some cases, one farm breeds the young oysters (spats), others perform the nucleation then other farms may tend to them until they are ready for harvest.
Periculture Pearl
Cultivation or pearl farming: the practice of inducing pearl formation in mussels/oysters by implanting with tissue and/or shell
Pinctada margaritafera
Mollusk that cultivates hues of black pearls from Tahiti, the Cook Islands and other parts of the South Seas
Pinctada maxima
Mollusk that cultivates white, golden and silver pearls from Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia and other parts of the South Seas

Bibliography

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