– the formation of a spherical or irregular shape that develops in the body of some mollusks. Pearls consist of the same substance as the shell, mostly calcium carbonate. Formed as a result of falling into the wall of the mantle or between the mantle and shell of an alien object (grains of sand, parasite, etc.), around which pearl is laid. The color of the pearl is white, pink or yellowish, sometimes black; sizes – from microscopic to pigeon eggs.


Since ancient times, pearls are highly valued for the beautiful color changes and the mysterious glow that comes from inside the gem. These qualities, as well as the right spherical or pear-shaped form, created so rarely found in nature pearls world fame and fame. This gem has long been placed in a row with precious stones, and sometimes equated to diamonds of clean water.

The respect that our ancestors fed to the aforementioned gem is embodied in the very concept of “pearl”, which means the highest quality of any object or the creation of human hands. In addition, it is pearls, thanks to whiteness and iridescent brilliance, have been a symbol of purity in all ages, it was also believed that the pearl promotes prosperity and longevity, gives the owner health and happiness. And in the Russian North, he was associated with tears of sadness (half-pearl), and with tears of joy (pitched). In Russia, pearls were a favorite ornament – pearls were worn everyday and festive garments, decorations of kings, icons and church covers, inlaid household items.

There are several versions that explain the origin of the word “pearls”. Some researchers believe that the word comes from the Arabic “zengchug”, the Tatar “zenju” or the Chinese zhen zhu (“zhen zhu”). In Russia, the word “pearl” (“zhenchug”, “zhanchug”) first appeared in 1161, in parallel there was a synonym – “pearl”, used for the name of this gem by the inhabitants of Europe (English, German, French). It should be noted that, for example, the Greeks call the pearls “margaritas”, and the Indians “Manyara” (“flower bud”).

Since the nature of pearls has not been known for a long time, many legends, myths and, sometimes, amusing ideas, firmly entrenched in the minds of people all over the world, were composed about it. Nowadays, thanks to countless scientific researches, the nature of pearls, its origin, structure and properties are becoming more and more understandable and explainable. Based on the findings of modern researchers, we will try to debunk the most famous myths about pearls.

Pearls are found only in tropical seas, in extreme cases, in warm water.

This is not the case – in the cold-water rivers, streams and lakes in the north of both hemispheres, so-called river pearls are also found.


Pearls can only be found in shells of shellfish.

Indeed, pearls used to make jewelry are obtained from the shells of some species of shellfish. But there is also a “cave pearl”, which is a rounded (spherical or ellipsoidal) formation on the bottom of caves and mines under various stalagmites. Their structure is the same as that of ordinary pearls: the central core is a fragment of rock or mineral, surrounded by light (sometimes darker) concentrates of calcite (less often – aragonite) composition. In shape and size, they resemble a pea with a section from a fraction of a millimeter to 2 mm (oolites) and more than 2 mm (pizolites). Their surface is rough, less often smooth, sometimes glossy, resembling dark brown river pearls. The color is white, grayish white, pale yellow, bluish-gray, from orange to almost black and even green. It should be noted that these pearls have nothing to do with molluscs.

The pearl shell can only be found in the sea or freshwater pond.

This is true, but it should be noted that there is a fossil pearl. It is very rare – in the world there are only a few hundred pearls of this kind.Basically, fossil pearls are found in petrified shells of sea shellfish in the USA, Canada, England, Australia, Argentina, Belgium, France, Japan, New Zealand, etc. At the same time, some pearls, formed during the period from the Triassic to the Pleistocene, retained their color and pearlescent shine. Freshwater pearls in the fossil shell of bivalves were found only once – in 1970 in the Gobi Desert. And, finally, quite often pearls of small size are found in … canned food from mussels.

According to legend, common among the inhabitants of the Russian North, the pearl is born in the gills of salmon. The fish carries the germ of the gem for several years, after which it returns to the river and gently drops the pearl sprocket into the open shell.

This is not quite true. Fish from the salmon breed are really very important for the growth of the pearl mussel population, but they have nothing to do with the creation of the pearls. The fact is that the eggs of the female pearl hen (one individual is capable of producing up to 3 million eggs) are between its leaves until the moment of turning into larvae-glochidia. They are able to move independently and with the current of water enter the gills of salmon fish (salmon, trout, pink salmon), where they stay for a while, moving along with the host fish for quite a long distance. Over time, turning into miniature shells, the larvae leave a safe shelter in the gills of fish, fall to the bottom and lead a new life of an adult pearl girl.


The best quality pearls can be white or black, any other colors are caused by the use of dyes.

There is an opinion that the best pearls are those that do not have their own color. They are transparent, pleasing to the eye with a soft silvery gleam that casts all the colors of the rainbow, therefore they are called pearls of pure water. Exceptionally rare black pearls are devoid of orientation, but they have an almost metallic luster and are attracted by an unusual flare – an extremely bright speck of reflected light.
But on this color range of natural pearls is not exhausted – it happens not only white, but also golden, yellow, bronze, pink, blue, bluish, violet, reddish gray, brown, brown, black. It is very rare to find a greenish gem, much more often – grayish or yellowish with a bluish tint.
Often there are pearls unevenly colored (with spots, divorces, etc.) or combined colors: brown with a gray band, white with gray stripes or a red crown, gray with a brown (white) crown, etc. There are also gems, one half of which has high jewelry properties, and the other (brown or gray) is completely devoid of such. Some pearls that have a greenish tint turn white after drying.

Black pearls can be bought “with hands” cheaply.

One should not believe such a proposal – natural black pearls are extremely rare, because they are always very expensive. That is why, at all times, pearls have been tried to impart exactly black color in various ways (for example, Webster and Corago dropped the pearls into a solution of silver nitrate, after which they were irradiated with solar or ultraviolet light). Thus, most often colored brown or not very high-quality pearls, in addition, the dye loosens organic matter, causing irreparable harm to pearls.
Sometimes, instead of black pearls, an uninformed buyer tries to shove hematite balls. You can determine the fake only under a microscope – you will immediately notice the unevenness of the color. But if the microscope is not at hand, you just need to abandon the tempting offer to buy a necklace with black pearls “almost nothing” – you have an obvious fake.

Black pearls are caught only in the seas.

Indeed, freshwater pearls of black color are very rare, in addition, it is devoid of brilliance and sparkling. But there was a time when black pearls with a characteristic bluish tint were found in the rivers of the Kola Peninsula.These gems were called “Hyperborean pearls” and adorned the necklaces of the Norwegian queens.

Pearls were originally solid.

Mistaken opinion – the pearls extracted from the shells are soft. That’s why experienced pearl fishermen get the pearl not with fingers but with lips, and hold in the mouth for about 2 hours (under the influence of saliva pearls hardens), wrapped in a wet cloth and put in a bosom or placed in infusion of different herbs, which helps preserve the shine and iridescence of pearls.


Pearls are not very large.

This is not quite true. The size of the pearls varies very much, from the smallest ones, in the tenth of a millimeter (pearl dust) to large ones, the weight of which reaches several kilograms. However, such pearls are extremely rare, most often come across pearls of medium size – 0.3-0.6 cm in diameter. The largest or rare in beauty pearls get their own names, stored in state treasuries. On such pearls the regime of monetary monopoly is extended, as they enter the register of currency values ​​of the state. The world’s largest “pearl of Allah” found in the shell of Tridakna (a large marine mollusk) in 1934 in the South China Sea off the island of Palawan (Philippines) weighs 6.35 kg, its length is 24 cm, the diameter is almost 14 cm The title of this pearl was received because of the original appearance – it resembles the head of Mohammed in the turban. Since this pearl is devoid of mother-of-pearl luster, it does not represent jewelry value.

To grow artificial pearls is simple – to collect shells, pour sand in them, and a couple of months you have in your pocket – a fortune.

Wrong opinion. Firstly, not every shellfish can produce a pearl of pure water. Even in natural conditions, pearls are formed in the mussel shells, Strombus gigas, Placuna placenta, Baccinum undatum, Haliotis, representatives of the genera Trochus and Turbo, and Nautilus pompilius (pearl boat). Secondly, some mollusks alienate foreign objects that have got into them, ie they are able to “push out” the sand particles placed in them, negating all your efforts. And, finally, you need to know exactly where you want to put the foundation for the future pearl. If your goal is simply to cover this or that thing with a mother-of-pearl, without specific experience, it can, and will. For example, in China, not for one century, the manufacture of “pearls of the Buddha” flourished – tiny Buddha images of copper or lead were laid in the shells of pearls. But even in this case you will have to wait several months to 2-3 years.
If you want to grow a truly valuable pearl, you will have to work hard. Europeans have repeatedly tried to grow artificial pearls, but the results, as a rule, did not meet the expectations – neither the size, nor the ideal shape, nor the impeccable brilliance of such pearls could not boast, and at times were covered with mother-of-pearl on one side only (except for Khmelevsky’s experiments, which revealed to anyone the secret of achieving a good result).
Success in the artificial cultivation of pearls was achieved by a Japanese researcher Mikimoto, who after a series of trial and error developed a method of transplanting a mantle (with a ball of mother-of-pearl wrapped into it) of one of the oysters into the mantle of another mollusk. Details of this, at first glance, simple, but extremely thin and time-consuming operation, the researcher keeps in secret.

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