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Freshwater pearls are nurtured in the non-saline environment and developed in freshwater mussels or oysters. The cultivation is initially originated in China, however, the systems are used and bespoke according to the company’s compliance. The Chinese government recognized system excludes beaded, souffle, Ming, Edison and metallic pearls. On a global scale, these are categorized into 15 natural colors, six shapes, and four luster classifications and 14 surface grades. Internationally, these are classified into two categories; Fine and Commercial grade.
Some facts of the freshwater pearl industry are freshwater farming, processing, wholesale market and jewelers.
Freshwater pearls cultivation
Freshwater mussels are the key source of freshwater pearls. They are bred in ponds, lakes, and rivers. The farmers plant their mussels and oysters in fresh water, add mother-of-pearls tissue in mussels and leave them in water to form the lustrous pearls. After a specific period, they are harvested and ready to get transported to the market. This pearls farming is specifically void to pollution that has to be taken care on the priority level. China, Japan, and U.S are the major farming industries on the global level.
Typically the freshwater pearls are bought infused with their shells. After mussel’s cultivation and harvesting, these are delivered to the first-stage factory for processing. At the factory, the pearls are sorted out according to their shapes and colors after which they are moved to the cleaning process. The cleaning process is done with certain cleaning agents that sanitize the pearls without damaging their luster and quality. After the first-stage process, pearls are considered dispatched to the pre-treatment process factories.
The freshwater pearls are pre-treated in a warm and chilled chemical solution and bleached. Those pieces that have naturally strong coloration are not bleached or dyed in order to maintain its natural color.
After chemical treatment, these are drilled and polished with cornmeal and wax mixture.
The pearls are matched and thread into transitory strands and further sorted into hanks. One hand is composed of 5-10 temporary strands that are considered ready for wholesale purchase.
Pearl Grading System
Pearls are graded into two major grading scales. These scales are called Tahitian scales and recognized internationally. These scales are the most accepted and reputable considered by all wholesale and retail dealers of freshwater pearls. However, the buyer has to learn to get expertise in analyzing the quality of pearls on their own.
Quality is totally rare.
Fine freshwater pearls are purchased by jewelers who transform these elegant organic gems into the finest wearable products. Since pearls also contain spiritual and healing properties, they are used in many jewelry items according to the client’s needs.