Pure Science: Common Pearl Treatments that Turn Them Alive

In a world driven by the love for diamond and ruby beads, garnets, the pearls have a place of reverence in the gemstone market. Revered for their clarity and pristine beauty, since time immemorial, pearls have always been an item of great respect. From finding a place in God’s necklace to shining majestically atop the crowns of most powerful rulers, there is a story behind every pearl. After all, pearls are one of the few known organic gemstones found exclusively on the planet.

Ruby gemstones beads

Not all naturally produced pearls have the signature lustre and translucency. Most pearls require an additional treatment to derive the clear appearance.

Here is what you should know about pearl treatments in a highly competitive industry.

Accepted commercial pearl treatments:

Polishing is a world-renowned process done to improve the lustre of the pearls. It has been established as an accepted process since many centuries, much before the technology to dye and heat up the pearls were discovered.

The common treatment used in pearl manufacturing and marketing industry are:

-  Irradiation
-  Bleaching and dyeing
-  Heating
-  Waxing
-  Filling and working
-  Drilling
-  Cutting

Any treatment is engaged in pearl manufacturing only after ensuring its credibility in alleviating the aesthetic and economical value of the item. All pearls are anyhow polished and cleaned off the organic debris before setting up for sale in the market.

For a lustrous shine, a pearl is subjected to following treatments.

  • Dyeing:

Pearls are subjected to a solution of silver nitrate and oils. They give the pearl gemstones a more uniform shade. The use of silver nitrate works in the same way as in the development of a photographic film in dark room. The pearl gets a rich metallic sheen with a blackish shade. Over a period of time, the effect of dyeing fades away.

  • Irradiation:

It is done using powerful gamma radiations on Akoya pearls. Since it involves use of radiation, only certified pearl treatment units are allowed to carry out the process legitimately.

The irradiation produces a more consistent appearance, with iridescence conspicuously visible on the surface. Unlike dyeing, irradiation of pearl gives a long lasting effect.

  • Maeshori:

Though a Japanese term, this treatment has found its way into freshwater pearl and Tahitian pearl manufacturing. The process involves systematic heating and subsequent cooling of the pearl to tighten up the nacre. It is more of a makeover or a facelift for the pearls, deriving a rather long-lasting lustre without the involvement of any chemical agent.

Treatment traces in the market:

Some pearls can lose their sheen by the time they reach the market. Some of them may even lose it after buying! As a pearl lover, you must verify the authenticity of the pearls beforehand by checking out the nature of treatment done during processing.

From concentration to consistency, an artificially enhanced pearl is hard to detect unless tagged correctly by the manufacturer. The only way to find out the true story of pearl treatment after processing is to do a destructive test! And it is a very expensive test to perform.

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