By Deanna Ayres
“Pearls are always appropriate,” Jackie Kennedy once said, and it’s true–there’s hardly any time when pearls don’t match any given outfit or occasion. From black pearls to golden pearls, they have been a treasured gem for centuries, in no small part due to their shimmering iridescence, lustre and inner glow. From ancient Egypt’s Cleopatra to ancient Rome and Greece, through the dark ages up until today, pearls are held in high regard and associated with beauty and style, worn by style icons from Coco Chanel and Jackie Kennedy to Angela Jolie and Rhianna. And what’ even better–they’re completely natural, and unlike mining for gems, the process of making them is eco-friendly.
The Process of Making Pearls
Most of the quality pearls found on the market come from cultured pearl farms. It’s important to know that most farms aim for an eco – friendly approach to pearl oyster farming, due to ethics, legal restrictions, or a desire to create higher quality pearls.
Creating a pearl is not a quick business since a grain of sand cannot be grafted onto an oyster to allow it to ‘protect’ itself from the irritation with layers of pearl until the oyster is between 12-24 months old.
After this step, the oysters are returned to environmentally favourable waters where the pearls can thrive. The colour of the pearl will depend on the minerals in the water in which the oyster lives, and black pearls are produced mainly in the Indian Ocean, whilst very white ones come mainly from freshwater sources. The health of the oyster is one of the most important factors in creating valuable pearls. This is where eco-friendly really comes to play, and eco-friendly pearlers gain numerous benefits.
For example, oysters are living creatures of course, and should not be overstocked to avoid stress and disease. They shouldn’t be densely packed together so they can produce larger pearls. Because they are cultivated on nets or baskets, oysters need to be cleaned regularly. The National Geographic has released an article about responsible cleaning practices and explains that eco-friendly cleaning takes the oysters to shallower water and lets nature take its course by allowing certain species of fish to clean the oysters by feeding on their parasites.
Oyster farms are actually good for the ecology, as they naturally filter the water and remove nitrogen as well as heavy metals from the water they live in. In fact, they are a wonderful bio-solution for polluted water.
It is important to support retailers who partner with responsible farmers, such as My Pacific Pearls. Eluxe is offering a set of their stunning, eco friendly pearls here, so you can make like Jackie O and ensure your accessories are ‘always appropriate’ too!