Monday, December 12

Soufflé Pearls: Frail Necks of the World, Rejoice!

Do you love big pearls for their size but not so fond of their weight? Innovation in Chinese freshwater pearls has led to cultivating soufflé pearls that are large and hollow inside. Good or bad idea?

Large soufflé pearl cut in half

Soufflé pearls were introduced for the first time in 2009. They are created by inserting small clumps of mud into the freshwater pearl mussels. The mud is collected from pearling ponds and dried in the sun before the insertion. The pearl grows around this muddy sphere and produces beautiful range of colors from white, bronze and silver to shades of green, purple, or peach.

Large soufflé pearl cut in half; other soufflés in the background

Their nacre is thick and lustrous, with many pearls exhibiting extreme iridescence, that play of colors in the light makes the pearls looks different from different angles and under different lights. Elements present in the muck nuclei, including metal oxides, are indicated by experts as the possible cause of the intense colors.

Large soufflé pearl cut in half, with mud nucleus still inside

What makes them so unique? Their size ranges from 13 to an astonishing 27 mm, but unlike other cultured pearls of this size, soufflé pearls are very light. So light, in fact, that I was absolutely amazed at being able to hold 15 necklaces on my index finger in one hand without making a big effort. How is this possible? The mud that serves as a nucleus is flushed out before the pearl becomes a part of a necklace or earrings, hollowing out its core. This is very good news for large pearl lovers as they can wear them day and night without risking a sprained neck :o)

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