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A Pearl’s Worth

March 26, 2011

The past couple of weeks The Pearl Girls have been asking you to guess how much certain pearls are.  We have showed you pictures of the pink Natural Conch Pearl and Orange Natural Horse Conch Pearl. The Orange pearl is worth $137,500 and the Pink pearl is worth $72,625. We wanted to explain to you why these pearls are worth what they are worth!

Pearls come from mollusks. Mollusk is actually a word that encompasses a lot of different species. Squid are mollusks, octopus are mollusks (no pearls there!), oysters and mussels (of course) but also sea snails (such as conch!)

Conchs are saltwater gastropods. They are univalve mollusks (like all snails), and they have the ability to withdraw their bodies into their shells. The conch shell is shaped like a spiral, and  it is most commonly found in the Caribbean Sea and in small areas of the Atlantic Ocean.

Natural pearls are found when conchs are harvested for food, but they are not very common!  It is estimated that a pearl is found in one of every 10,000 conchs. It might sound like a lot, but rarely are these pearls very large or of very good quality! So, when a natural large conch pearl of good quality is discovered, it becomes unusually valuable.

The conch pearls are typically oval or irregular in shape. Symmetry is very important in determining a conch pearl’s value. Color is the second most important factor with pink and a brownish yellow color being the most valuable color of pearls. Conch pearls are known for their flame structure, and this is an optical feature caused by the interlocking calcite and aragonite crystals. When these flames are prominent (as in the horse conch), the value increases!

So, these pearls are big, great quality, and the horse conch has a prominent flame structure…. And they cost big bucks!

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