Many people fall in love with pearls. Possibly it has something to do with the fact that the pearl is coated with mother-of-pearl or, as it is known, nacre. Certainly a natural or cultured pearl is a thing of beauty.
As the shellfish sits statically in the water, it pumps a never-ending flow of water through its body. Occasionally a tiny parasite or a piece of grit is ingested and the shellfish triggers a flow of calcium carbonate, called nacre, to coat the intruding article encasing what will, in time, form a pearl.
Nacre is the substance that coats the inside of the shell as well. It is made up of tiny pieces that form layers thus coating not only the shell but the intruding particle. It is strong, iridescent and resilient.
Man has managed to duplicate this process by opening the shell and carefully inserting a piece of shell that has been rounded and polished, along with a piece of the animal from where it originated.
After some time passes, the shell is harvested and a pearl is extracted.
In both instances the system is the same but the pearl that is extracted from the animal that contracted the parasite, or the tiny grit, is called a natural pearl and the pearl that was extracted from the animal that had the round bead inserted in it is called a cultured pearl.
The Mohs scale is used to classify all minerals and diamond, being the hardest, is rated a 10 and talc is the lowest at number 1. Pearl is rated at 2-½ so that means it is very soft.
- When you consider buying a pearl engagement ring the first reason to not buy a pearl ring is simply that it is too soft and will wear out quickly. Hand creams, lotions, household cleaners, and cooking oils all have the potential to harm the pearl. Nacre is composed of tiny bars like brickwork with small spaces in between the bricks. The spaces around them can be where these cleaners and oils gather to take away the lustrous beauty of the pearl.
- Since the pearl is mostly round, to securely mount it on a ring presents many problems. It can have a small hole drilled in it and then mounted on a post and held in place with glue. The pearl can be accidentally bumped and knocked off the post and then it would be gone. It may be mounted and protected by claws but that means the small surface exposed as the top will wear quickly as it takes the brunt of the abuse.
- How long will pearl engagement rings be popular? You must remember that marriages really can last a very long time. My wife and I have been married for 60 years! Her diamond engagement ring has had the claws replaced 8 times over that time. Those claws are white gold, much harder than pearl, and they still wore out. If you are both really stuck on the pearl ring then I would suggest you buy the diamond engagement ring and gift her with a pearl ring later.
So now you have the thoughts of a retired jeweler and husband and it is now your decision. I trust this advice will help you decide to not give her a pearl engagement ring rather than the traditional diamond.