Friday, August 3, 2012

Synthetic Pearls

What will they think of next? There is so much news about lab created gemstones and diamonds it was natural to hear that a lab at Cambridge University is now able to synthesize nacre. Nacre is the iridescent coating that is found on the inside of some mollusks and on the outer coating of pearls, commonly known as mother of pearl. Apparently this lab has been able to make nacre through an artificial process.

Now I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and pearls are pretty easy to come by. You can go to any jewelry store in China town and find strings of pearls for cheap. There are also wholesalers who will sell unstrung pearls by the pound. It is not very expensive and the pearls are not of the highest quality, but if you’re looking for miscellaneous pearls to string together it’s a good way to go. So why would anyone go through all of the trouble and expense of making synthetic pearls?

Even 15th century royalty wore pearls

Mankind is obsessed with trying to make what nature does naturally. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is amazing. It just doesn’t seem like a good use of time and energy. The pearl is a naturally lustrous and beautiful object. It is amazing that a tiny irritant like a grain of sand can turn into a shiny orb. When you wear pearls the warmth of your body is transferred to the pearl. They feel pliant, supple and sexy around your neck. Part of the romance of a pearl is how it is created beneath the ocean waves. Divers must brave cold water and depths to fish them out of the sea. It doesn’t get any more romantic than that.

Scientist can try and recreate nature’s beauty in a lab. They can try and do something unique and unusual, probably just so they can say they did it. It doesn’t make it better, only more interesting. I will take a crummy, misshaped and disparaged natural pearl over a lab created one any day of the week. It may not be the most attractive but it has a natural beauty that cannot be recreated. It’s this natural beauty that attracts me to pearls in the first place. The pearl is the queen of gems and the gem of queens. That’s just something you can’t get from a lab.

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