There are many things that you might want to give your better half on this momentous occasion, but jewellery always tops the list for women. Luckily, choosing the right jewellery just became easier as each wedding anniversary also has a traditional gemstone associated with it.
The 'gemstone' for the first anniversary year is the lovely Freshwater Pearl. Learn a little more about this fascinating gemstone...
What is a pearl?
A pearl is perhaps the only gemstone that is formed within a living, breathing organism -- so it is not actually a gemstone at all! When an irritant penetrates the tissue of the mussel or oyster, the mollusc starts secreting a substance in sheer self-defence. This substance is known as nacre -- a combination of crystalline and organic substance secreted by the mollusc as a defence mechanism to counter the foreign body that gets lodged within the mantle tissue. The nacre spreads itself around the irritant in concentric layers till a few years later it finally becomes a pearl!
Basic forms of pearls
Pearls come in two basic forms and two classes: freshwater and saltwater; natural and cultured. While natural pearls are, more or less, an 'accident' of nature, cultured pearls owe their existence entirely due to human intervention. Similarly, freshwater pearls grow in freshwater mussels in non-saline environment such as ponds and lakes, while salt water pearls are formed in salt water molluscs such as oysters.
Freshwater pearls vs. Saltwater pearls
The good news is that freshwater pearls are not as exorbitantly priced as their saline water cousins. What is more, the freshwater pearls come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours ranging from white to pink, green, grey, silver, lavender and every rainbow hue! Since they are not 'beaded' with a nucleus, these pearls are made entirely of solid nacre. This makes freshwater pearls more durable, and more resistant to any wear and tear and degeneration.
Natural freshwater pearls are formed in various species of freshwater mussels which inhabit lakes, rivers, ponds and other fresh water bodies. Although these freshwater pearl mussels occur in hot and cold climates, most freshwater cultured pearls sold in the market today come from China.
Cultured saltwater pearls are mostly round while freshwater pearls appear in almost every imaginable shape: round, drop, rice, button, oval, semi-round, circle or ringed, baroque and semi-baroque.
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