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Pearl Education - Please enter your jewelry question or comment. > Tahitian Pearls

07-21-2011, 11:49 AM

Luster is one of the most visible ways to measure the quality of a Tahitian pearl. It comes from more than just a surface reflection, and can display the qualities of layers deeper inside the Tahitian pearl. A pearl with a truly high luster will reflect shapes distinctly, as well as have a high contrast between the light and shadowy surface areas.

Due to their spherical shape, Tahitian pearls reflect light in a way that produces a glow. The layers of nacre that make up the pearl are composed of tiny nacreous crystals, which have a wide range of translucency. When the pearl is formed, these crystals stack in layers, creating an irregularly shaped surface that can reflect and refract light. This phenomenon is unique to spherical pearls because of the concentric way that the layers form.

The intensity of a pearl’s luster is determined by the smoothness of its surface, the thickness of its nacre, the quality of the nacre itself, and the percentage of conchiolin present in the pearls layers, which is opaque and can dull the luster of the pearl. After harvesting, pearls are cleaned, either mechanically or by hand, to ensure that the surface is clear and can be examined for quality.

Orient is another term that can be used for the surface quality of a Tahitian pearl, though it is more commonly used in reference to irregularly shaped pearls. It also more specifically refers to the colors that can be seen in the light refracted by the pearl’s nacre. If the layers form properly and are sufficiently translucent, light can refract to produce a very intense iridescent quality.

Last edited by pearleducation; 07-21-2011 at 05:41 PM.
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