Sunday, 15 October 2017

Conch Pearls

Among the rarest and most expensive type of pearl in the world, conch pearls are in demand once again thanks to the resurgence in popularity of natural pearls.

A conch pearl is a calcareous concretion produced by the Queen conch (“conk”) mollusc, which is a large, edible sea snail. Most often pink and oval, the finest examples display a wave-like “flame” structure on their surface and have a creamy, porcelain-like appearance and unique shimmer.
Harvested by teams of fishermen, a single, elusive conch pearl is found in every 10-15,000 shells, although less than 10% of these are gem quality.

This rarity, together with its colour, makes the conch pearl extremely desirable. Intense, saturated pink hues and pronounced flame structure (chatoyancy) are what most influence price.
Conch pearls are a by-product of a declining fishing industry. Caught primarily for its meat, the Queen conch is eaten throughout the Caribbean and the US. Overfishing has forced all but three conch-producing countries to ban fishing to protect decimated populations, which it is predicted will not recover for decades. This means ever fewer conch pearls are coming to market.

There are few recorded instances of the successful cultivation of conch pearls. Natural pearls, formed without human intervention, come with the “rare” tag that make them infinitely more desirable.