The Pearl

Since the creation of Maison Tournaire, its designers have used pearls of quality. The pearl is rare and precious, it is a fascinating jewel The pearl is an intruder who has found its place among the wonders of nature. Chance definitely makes things right... Since thousands of years the pearls have aroused covetousness and admiration.

 The birth of a pearl is an accident of nature. An intruder, a dust, a small parasite enters a mollusc. If the latter can not expel it, it protects itself from this intruder by covering it with mother-of-pearl, which gradually transforms it into a pearl. It is a long way that passed through the pearl, which is born in a mollusc to finally be sublimated by the one who carries it. It reveals its beauty in different forms, colors, iridescences (also called orient), sizes, chandeliers ... The varied faces of the pearl and the special attention it requires throughout its life reinforce its unique and magical character.



Small identity card of an atypical gem

The pearl is an organic gemstone

- Its formation: A foreign body is in contact with the mantle of a mollusc, which contains cells secreting mother-of-pearl. Layer after layer, mother-of-pearl gives birth to a natural pearl ... Sometimes ordinary and sometimes exceptionally beautiful.

- Its durability: On a scale of 1 (dry soap) to 10 (diamond) the pearl is between 2.5 and 4. Despite its relatively low hardness, the pearl is still very resistant.

- Pearl maintenance: It is recommended to clean it with a soft cloth soaked in warm, slightly soapy water. It is also recommended to wear it only after putting creams and perfumes, because it does not appreciate the chemicals. In fact, once the beads have been pierced and mounted in a collar, the products can damage them because they penetrate between the pearl layer and the core.

Fine pearls and cultured pearls: treasures of the seas

A natural or fine pearl is a pearl formed without the intervention of man. According to historians, this precious pearl intruder was discovered in the Persian Gulf, the Chinese and European rivers, as well as in Sri Lanka for thousands of years until the New World with Christopher Columbus end of the 15th century. Discovered pearls in Venezuela and Panama. It is now very rare. It was only around 1900 that cultured pearls were invented by Kokichi Mikimoto, who understood the mechanism of formation. Cultured pearls are also natural, simply man has helped nature to finish his work: for the fine pearls, the foreign body came to lodge by chance in the mollusc. As far as cultured pearls are concerned, man makes this encounter with the mollusc, and controls every step of the growth of the pearl. The intruder is therefore replaced by a round core of nacre, of different diameters.

Portrait of a pearl with multiple reflections

The pearl of culture is declined under many identities, according to its provenance and the molluscs from which it is derived. There are two main types of pearls: sea water and freshwater. Among the pearls of sea water, there are the Akoya, the pearls of Tahiti and those of the seas of the South. These are born in oysters. While freshwater pearls come to life in giant mussels.

- The Akoya pearl: it is grown in Japan, China and Vietnam and appeared in the early 1900s. It is best known to the general public. Most Akoya pearls are white-cream, yellow, then pink or light gray. In general, its diameter varies between 6 and 10 mm.

- The pearl of the South Seas: it usually comes from Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines but is also grown in Thailand and Myanmar and appeared in the 1950s. Most of the time, the color of this pearl ranges from white-cream to the color of gold. It is the biggest known pearl: its caliber varies between 8 and 18mm, sometimes more.

- The Thaiti pearl: it is mainly cultivated in French Polynesia and off the Cook Islands, it appeared in the 1960s. Its color goes from gray to black through green, purple bluish and can display a unique metallic reflection. Its usual size varies between 8 and 16 mm in diameter.

- The freshwater pearl: Unlike the above examples of pearls grown at sea, the freshwater pearl is grown in rivers and lakes. Unlike other cultured pearls, the mollusc of a freshwater pearl can produce several pearls simultaneously, making it more affordable than others. It is found in China, Japan and the United States. It can be of very variable colors. It appeared in Japan in the 1930s and in China in the 1970s. Its size varies between 2 and 13 mm. While seawater cultured pearls are the result of the implantation of a piece of mantle combined with a core of mother-of-pearl used to form the heart of the future pearl, freshwater cultured pearls have not Need core so their layer of mother-of-pearl is thicker. They are mainly produced only from a piece of mantle grafted into a mollusc. China is the largest producer of cultured pearls in the world. It is estimated that only 10% of pearls produced in gem quality, exploitable in jewelry. This shows that the work done by man and the clemency granted by nature are not always sufficient to create sumptuous pearls put into showcases in jewelers. This is a long-term job for which pearl farm workers need to be patient. These pearl wonders, produced by chance and nature, require many months, sometimes years of growth before being released from their shells. But what a fabulous show when the result is perfect!

There are also other types of pearls. Among these :

- The "blister" pearls: these "bulb" pearls form a solid heart inside a mollusc. Unlike other pearls, the part facing the shell has no mother-of-pearl and is flat.

- The Keshi : these "poppy seeds" are so-called natural pearls from the South Seas and are baroque (irregular)

- The Mabé : an assembly composed of a half-mother-of-pearl core, which makes it also a flat pearl.



The value of a pearl

According to GIA (American Institute of Gemology), there are 7 factors essential to determine the value of a pearl :

- The size (measured in millimeters)

- The shape (round, flat, baroque, rimmed, pear, in the form of grain of rice ...)

- The color (dominant color, orient or iridescence ...)

- The shine (gloss: the key criterion for establishing the value of a pearl)

- The quality of the surface (scratches, defects ...)

- The quality of the mother-of-pearl (the thickness of the nacre layers, the opacity, the uniformity, etc.)

- The assortment (or the fact that put together the pearls was coordinated)

For Philippe Tournaire, the color and the orient of a cultured pearl are the most important. The Orient gives "the impression of being able to return in color". The jeweler creator is sensitive to the pearls that are distinguished from the others by their orient that is not found anywhere else.

Below are some examples of terms used by professionals to describe the color of a pearl:

- Eggplant: the way tahitian pearls of purple tinge are called

- Peacock: for a pearl of culture of Tahiti which reveals a color predominantly gray-green to blue-green dark with a point of pink-purple.

- Pistachio: for a yellow-green pearl of Tahiti culture.

- Golden: the pearls of culture of the South Seas of yellow color delicately tinted with orange or green.



Treatments and imitations of pearls

Some cultured pearls such as the Akoya or those of the South Seas sometimes undergo a treatment such as bleaching, tinting or irradiation ... It is often thanks to X-rays that one can see if the pearl has been subject to this type of treatment. One can also spot a hue from the hole drilled in the pearl, which tells us color concentrations.

There are an infinity of attempts of imitations but none equal the beauty and the unique aspect of the pearl of culture or the fine pearl.

Among these, the essence of orient In the XVIIth century a French rosary has developed a derivative of the pearl: With a base in glass bead that has covered iridescent fish scales and varnishes, it Got a very compelling imitation of the natural pearl. This method is still used although updated. The fact is that imitations often look too perfect to claim to be products of nature!

Throughout the centuries, still and always the pearl remains a key element of jewelry. Once worn, in a ring, pendant, necklace ... The pearl exudes all its splendor and shows itself in its best light. Invitation to the dream of swimming in the seas and fresh waters, it is a true plunge into the beauty of nature. This "sublime accident" as he likes to call Philippe Tournaire, is a true source of inspiration. Come and discover this marvel through the workshops Philippe Tournaire! We will not fail to make you travel in the unlikely and charming world of a foreign body to which everyone is now accustomed! The pearl centerpiece of unique creations, in its image ...


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