Pearl is recognized as the modern birthstone for those born in the month of June. The word pearl comes from the French, perle and most likely is a derivation from the Latin perna—meaning leg, after the ham-shaped leg bivalve.
Most gemstones are mined deep from within the earth, but pearls are unique In that they come from the sea. Pearls are created inside the living form, the mollusk, when foreign particles find itself within and shape the "gem" from within the oyster. The particles are actually an irritant to the shell's soft internal surface and the lustrous substance nacre is secreted by the oyster to protect itself. Years of continuous secretion of nacre forms this bewitching gem, the pearl.
The most valued of pearl types is found in the wild: the natural pearl. These are considerably rare, and the market for cultured pearls has arisen. These cultured pearls, the majority of pearls used in jewelry, are manufactured in both freshwater and saltwater.
The cultured pearl procedure begins with a surgical transplant of a nucleus bead inside the mollusk's gonad. After the bead is inserted, it secretes layers of nacre around the outside of the surface of the implant and eventually produces the pearl.
Cultured pearls come in various types which commonly include the Akoya, South Sea, Tahiti, Chinese and Japanese Lake Biwa cultured pearls.
An enchanting gem that is steeped in history, pearl has been affiliated with various myths regarding its origin. According to ancient Greeks, pearls were believed to be hardened tears of joy that fell from the goddess of love Aphrodite, as she was born in the sea.
Pearls are so versatile that they look stunning against any precious metals such as sterling silver, white, rose or yellow gold, as well as palladium. You'll come across different colors apart from white or cream that pearl is widely known for. Cultured pearls exhibit more hues than the natural ones ranging from yellow, pink, orange, black, blue, violet and green.
While silver is significantly less valuable than gold, it is like gold in that it is a very soft precious metal. Pure silver is generally too soft to be used for jewelry, flatware or decorations. It is therefore usually combined with an alloy to strengthen it before being crafted into anything. Like gold, silver is graded by how pure it is, with .999 FS (fine silver) being the most valuable. The numbers refer to there being 999 parts of pure silver per thousand parts.
Pure or fine silver can be used to make jewelry, and it can sometimes be used for silver-plating. To qualify as pure silver, the silver must make up at least 99.9 percent of the metal. Despite its value and shining beauty, pure silver is notoriously difficult to work with. It also tarnishes when exposed to hydrogen sulfide or ozone.
Sterling silver is the most popular type of silver for making jewelry. It is 92.5 percent pure silver, and the other 7.5 percent is an alloy. Most of the time, sterling silver is made with copper, but it can be made with nickel or other metals. The alloy strengthens the silver and makes it less likely to tarnish. Sterling silver melts at a lower temperature than fine silver does and is thus easier to work with. As sterling silver dates back to the 10th century, it is one of the most ancient alloys still being used. It has often been used to make coins as well as jewelry. Sterling silver pieces will often be stamped with a 925.
Coin silver is usually 90 percent pure silver and 10 percent copper. It has the smallest amount of silver in a metal that can legally be marketed as silver in the United States. Coin silver is occasionally used to make fashion jewelry.
Electrum is a naturally occurring mix of gold and silver that was used to make jewelry and coins in ancient times but is rarely used today. Silver makes up about 40 to 60 percent of the metal, and its color varies from silvery white to light gold. People who collect ancient jewelry make a note of the silver/gold ratio in electrum, for it can indicate the item's history.
Silver-plating involves coating a base metal with a layer of silver. The two most frequently used methods are filling and electroplating. Filling or rolling involves bonding the silver to the base metal by heating it. In electroplating, the craftsman uses electricity to permanently bond the silver to a base metal. Electroplated items are often described as silver plate. Both filled and electroplated items will have stamps denoting the type of silver, e.g. 925 for sterling silver.
Nickel silver or German silver isn't silver. It's actually any of several alloys made from copper, zinc and nickel to mimic the color and luster of silver. It is used to make costume jewelry – and it should be plainly marked as a nickel alloy for many people are allergic to nickel.