Like amber, not a stone - pearls are formed by shellfish such as oysters and mussels to protect their delicate bodies from irritants such as grains of sand trapped within their shells. Smooth layers of calcium carbonate are built up around the irritant to slowly form a pearl. They can even be formed by snails - but rarely. They have been used in jewellery for 6000 years

Cultured pearl

Since perhaps only one in 30 or 40 molluscs will contain a pearl, and they are found at depths of about 15 metres, and so can be dangerous to harvest, man has found ways of cultivating them. The process is quite simple - a foreign body, usually a mother o' pearl sphere, is inserted and the shellfish will secrete a layer of natural pearl around it. It is therefore not easy to distinguish a natural pearl from a cultured one, as there is a layer of real pearl on the surface of the cultured one. 

Natural pearls of any size can take years to form, and are much more valuable than cultured pearls. The vast majority of pearls nowadays are cultured and their value depends on the thickness of the pearl layer, its lustre, shape and its colour.

Byezantium always has a range of pearl jewellery, set in silver with cultured pearls and at very good prices. We also use seed pearls in some of our gold jewellery

In the Click here to go to the Byzantium Jewellery home page shop we have silver and Pearl:
earrings - necklaces - studs -
in gold and Pearl:
earrings - rings -
Please click to the left to see them