AZGem Gems
July, 2001
The World's Most Useful
Gem & Jewelry Monthly Newsletter

Written by Carolyn Doyle for customers of
The Dorado Company
and other visitors to the website who subscribe.


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Usable Gems... and a little opinion.


Freshwater Cultured Pearls

Everyone knows that pearl culturing was invented by the Japanese, right?

Probably not!

As far as we can tell, culturing was practiced in China at least 700 years ago.

Chinese fishermen and farmers would implant a tiny Buddha carving into freshwater mussels living in local lakes, ponds, and streams.

The mussels would often cooperate by coating the carving with nacre, making a beautiful, colorful, shimmering Buddha to be worn and admired.

Prior to World War Two, the Japanese began commercially culturing freshwater pearls in Lake Biwa, producing pearls that are the size and shape of Rice Krispies.

These little pearls were a hit because of their soft colors and shimmering beauty.

Some people claim that freshwater pearls have a deeper glow than cultured saltwater pearls.

That's probably because freshwater pearls are essentially solid nacre just like natural pearls.

They don't have a bead nucleus. These pearls are cultured by implanting a tiny piece of living mantle tissue from another mussel.

The war interrupted production of freshwater pearls, but they were just as popular after the war, when they again became available to the world.

Within a few years after the war Chinese pearl growers began experimenting and developing better culturing techniques for freshwater pearls.

In the last few years freshwater pearls have grown up! Now these pearls are larger, more beautiful, and more colorful than ever before.

Prices for freshwater cultured pearls appear to have reached their historic low point.

Grower asking prices have increased slightly this year, but we haven't had to pay these higher prices yet.

We bought a huge quantity of larger freshwater cultured pearls at bargain prices last year, and we still have some strands left.

We sell these strands for less than anyone I know. Click here to visit our Pearl Page.

Chinese freshwater cultured pearl growers are now perfecting near-round pearls to compete with saltwater cultured pearls.

There is some mystery about how they are doing it, since most growers aren't using bead implants.

Some suggest they are re-implanting blemished freshwater pearls after grinding them to a round shape.

However it's done, these round freshwater pearls are solid nacre.

We will undoubtedly continue to see more and better freshwater cultured pearls at reasonable prices.


Pearl Care and Feeding

Freshwater pearl care is the same as for saltwater pearls.

We discussed pearl care last month, but it certainly bears repeating… so I will.

As you know, natural and freshwater cultured pearls are almost all nacre, where saltwater cultured pearls are several layers of nacre over a shell bead.

All types of pearls require a bit more care than most other gems.

Nacre can be damaged or discolored by chemicals. You should take precautions to prevent chemicals from coming into contact with pearls… including perfume and cologne.

It's a good idea to always put your pearls on last when getting dressed.

Acids in skin oil can damage pearls. To the extent practical avoid prolonged contact with perspiration.

Use a soft, damp cloth to gently clean pearls.

Have pearls restrung when the string becomes soiled and discolored.

Freshwater pearls are as beautiful and elegant as saltwater pearls. Enjoy wearing them.


Free Shipping

Don't forget, we're offering free shipping on all orders over $99.

Just deduct the shipping charge when you fill out the order form. If you forget, we'll deduct it for you.


Until next month… please, visit me anytime at for a great selection of colored gems at great prices.

Carolyn Doyle

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Scottsdale, AZ 85252-8232