PEARLS, which are naturally beautiful, were first gem to be used by ancient cultures as treasures and ornaments. To grow fine cultured pearls it takes time, patience and attention. There are many qualities of pearls in today's marketplace. SHOGUN takes a lot of pride in its careful and knowledgeable selection of only the best qualities.
NATURAL PEARLS are formed when an irritant- perhaps a tiny living creature is trapped within the mantle tissue in a mollusk. To soothe the discomfort, the oyster covers the irritant with layer upon layer of smooth, ice-like crystals called nacre. Nacre gives the pearl its distinctive silky look and feel.
CULTURED PEARLS form in the same way with the exception that instead of waiting for nature to induce an irritant, the pearl technician carefully places a small shell bead inside the oyster to stimulate the mollusk to secrete the nacre production. The bead nucleus is covered by the same silky nacre as is on a natural pearl. Distinguishing between fine cultured pearls and natural pearls when the pearl is yet undrilled can only be detected with the use of an x-ray. Determining whether cultured or natural with drilled pearls takes an experienced professional.
Today's method of cultivating pearls was developed in the late 1800's in Japan. Akoya oysters ( saltwater mollusks ) are the host for implantation with a nucleus made from the shell of a mussel mollusk harvested from the Mississippi river beds in the United States.
AKOYA PEARLS are the most commonly know saltwater pearls. They are grown in akoya oysters. The pearl sizes are usually 2mm to 9mm. Akoya cultured pearls measuring over 9mm are rare and expensive.
SOUTH SEA PEARLS are produced in a yellow-lipped and white-lipped oysters ( pinctada maxima ) that are grown in the waters of Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. South Sea Pearls generally range in sizes from 8mm to 16mm, rarely 20mm.
TAHITIAN PEARLS are from black-lipped oysters ( pinctada margaritifera ) mollusks that produce these desirable gray to black colored pearls. The Tahitian pearls grow to sizes comparable to the South Sea pearls.
FRESHWATER PEARLS are from freshwater mollusks. These mollusks usually will not tolerate the presence of a shell nucleus and are therefore implanted with small pieces of the mantle tissue of the host mollusk to stimulate production of nacre. The pearls that form follow the curves of these softer center thus resulting in a variety of shapes and textures.
BLISTER PEARLS are dome shaped pearls created by inserting a half or three-quarter shaped nucleus against the inside shell of the mollusk rather than within the body of the mollusk. Blister pearls remain intact with the shell of the mollusk. They maintain the integrity of the original form and are therefore considered cultured pearls.
MABE PEARLS are blister pearls that are cut away from the shell. The nacre coating is separated from the nucleus in order to remove substances that might affect its color. The bead is then replaced with polyester resin and a new mother-of-pearl backing. This is done to increase the strength of the pearl.