Pearls with basic black were the fashion mantra for about three decades.For the Baby Boomer generation,the off the shoulder black drape and a strand of pearls was the norm for that year book graduation photo.T.V. mom’s such as Donna Stone, Margaret Anderson, and June Clever were never without their pearl choker. Pearls have also long been the choice to be worn by the bride and in many cultures have a religious significance.Symbolizing purity pearls are worn as jewelry by the bride as well as used to embellish her gown and veil. Most pearls found on the market today are cultured. Natural pearls are found more often in jewelry made before the 20’s and 30’s.The discovery of oil in many of the restful beds disturbed the quiet solitude of the mollusks needed to create these gems of the sea.So, man stepped in to help and promote the pearl development. Natural pearls are a result of an irritant entering a Mollusk, and then the Mollusk secretes layers of substance call nacre. Layer after layer is added and the pearl grows with each additional layer. Creating the beautiful gem of the sea.With cultured pearls the irritant is inserted by a surgical procedure. Usually a small round bead, but sometimes shaped beads are used to create shaped pearls.To get specific colors of pearls tissues from various kinds of donor Mollusks can be used and inserted into the host Mollusk.The Mollusks are placed in quiet pools and checked regularly.The process can be shocking to the Mollusk and many do not make it.The survival rate is barely 50%. To achieve larger size pearls it can take several years to grow. In addition, to accumulate a large number of pearls the same size, luster, orient, and make, can take many years. Pearls can be classed as saltwater or freshwater. Saltwater pearls come from oysters in oceans, seas, gulfs and bays.Freshwater pearls are found in mussels or oysters in rivers, lakes or ponds and are more irregular in shape and varied in color. Black pearls which are natural, not dyed, come from the black-lip oyster or the rainbow-lipped oyster. When purchasing pearl jewelry you should be looking for these important factors: Luster the shine/glow of the pearl.Pearls with a high luster will reflect strong sharp light. Pearls should be viewed under an Ott light or other strong light source. Surface Quality It is normal for pearls to have some flaws, but you want to select jewelry where the flaws are very slight. Shape Usually the more symmetrical the better, however if you are looking for a unique shape to create a one of kind piece, obviously this would not be a priority.Some of the shapes other than round are; off-round, semi-Baroque, Baroque, Oval, Drop,Pear, Button, Color color varies with the type of host mollusk and the part of the world from which the pearl comes.The orient of a pearl is the overtones of iridescent colors.The number of hues can vary. Size Obviously the larger the pearl the more costly.More time is necessary for its growth and this requires more time and care. Nacre thickness In a natural pearl, nacre is not an issue since a natural pearl is all nacre.With cultured pearls a small bead is placed in the host mollusk and the process of coating the irritant begins.The thickness of this nacre determines the value of the pearl as a thicker nacre is more desirable. Matching when purchasing a necklace or bracelet, you want pearls to be well matched in size, color, orient, shape, and make.A necklace with graduated sizes of pearls, you want to match in color and orient, shape, and make. Treatment Pearls may be died, bleached, irradiated, filling, coating, buffing, silver salt treatment, to improve color.This is something of which the seller should advise the purchaser. Conch Pearls also called pink pearls are a strong pink to peach color. Faux Pearls It is usually very easy to spot faux pearls.The two most common ways of creating these is to take glass beads and fill them with an emulsion which resembles the orient of a pearl, or to take a strand of glass beads and dip them into the same kind of emulsion.These are far less expensive from the natural or cultured pearls.