What are Conch Pearls
Conch pearls are among the rarest pearls in the world and are prized for their beauty and unusual color. Conch pearls are natural pearls, meaning they are formed by nature without human intervention. They are produced by a Queen conch (pronounced ‘conk’) mollusk, which is a large, edible sea snail that lives in the Caribbean Sea. Conch shells are typically harvested for their prized meat and the pearl is found as a byproduct of the harvest.
Are conch pearls rare? Incredibly! It is estimated that only one conch pearl will be found in every 10,000-15,000 conch shells. And less than 10% of the pearls found are gem quality. The gem-quality conch pearls are easily distinguishable from other pearls because of their pastel color, oval shape, and wave-like flame structure on their surface.
Where is the pearl in a conch? In a pearl sac in the mantle – but not in every one!
Conch Pearl Characteristics
While conch pearls are referred to as pearls, they are not comprised of nacre like other pearls. Instead, they are formed by fibrous crystals that build up around the irritant in the conch, similar to how kidney stones grow in humans. This substance gives the pearls a wave-like flame structure on their surface and leaves them with a creamy, porcelain appearance.
Even though they are sometimes referred to as pink pearls, conch pearls come in a variety of colors, including salmon, orangey-pink, white, and even brown. They are usually oval-shaped, but can also be baroque and rounded. (This is different from abalone pearls – which are usually cone-shaped.)
Conch pearls are small in size and measured in carats, unlike other pearls. A normal conch pearl weighs between two to six carats.
Conch pearls value
The rarity of the conch pearls is the biggest answer to the question are conch pearls valuable. Not only are the conch pearls extremely rare in nature in the first place, but the sea snail population that produces conch pearls is now endangered due to environmental pollution. That means there are limits on the harvest of conch, further reducing the number of conch pearls available on the market.
It is primarily the rarity of the pearls that determines how much are conch pearls worth, but their color, size, and shape also factor in. Chocolate-colored conch pearls are considered the rarest, but the ones deemed most valuable are often the pinks. They can range from very pale pink to a pink that is nearly red. The most prized of all are the brilliant pink conch pearls that have a beautiful flame-like quality.
Conch pearl care
Conch pearls are an organic gem, meaning they were produced by a living organism. That makes them more sensitive than other gemstones. Borsheims always advises pearl wearers to have pearls be the last thing they put on and the first they take off, limiting the pearls exposure to perfumes, oils, and other chemicals.
Special care should be taken with conch pearls because their coloring can fade over time due to exposure to sunlight. Conch pearls are perfect to wear in the evenings.
Pearls should be wiped with a clean cloth after wearing and, if soiled, can be cleaned with a mildly soapy water. Pearl strands should never be submerged in water because it could damage the silken strands.
Conch Pearl Jewelry
Conch pearls can be set in a number of ways for jewelry – from pendants to earrings. It is rare to see a strand of conch pearls; more often they are the focal point in a piece accented with other gemstones. They are an exquisite choice for a June birthstone piece or for any person who is touched by their rarity and beautiful flame.