These Domains are for Sale
The Secrets of the Pink pearl
A jewel of nature - more expensive than diamonds! Unknown to the general public, the pink pearl of the Caribbean is the rarest pearl in the world. From the place Vendôme in Paris to the Ginza quarter of Tokyo, its flamboyant pink color makes it a stunning natural gem sought after by the most prestigious jewelers on the planet.
Found only in the wild, pink pearls are «fabricated» by the conch, a shellfish hunted for its meat in the Caribbean islands, and especially in the Dominican Republic. Pink pearls are exceptionally rare since only one in 10,000 queen conches produce a pearl, and only one in every 100,00 thousand contains a pearl of “gem” quality… When a pink pearl arrives on the market, it immediately finds a buyer!
After a first golden age in the 19th century, conch pearls totally disappeared from circulation before being rediscovered by Sue Hendrickson, an American adventurer settled in Honduras, famous for her discovery of the finest fossil of Tyrannosaurus Rex ever excavated. Negociated at astronomic prices (up to 400,000 dollars for a single pearl), conch pearls sometimes make the fishermen who find them very rich…and the very rich clients who buy them - very happy. But today the quench conch is a victim of over-fishing and the pink pearls of the Caribbean also risk to disappear… unless, a biologist in Fort Piece,
Florida wins an impossible bet: to graft conches, and like oyster pearls - make from the pink pearl, a simple cultured pearl.
Not all queen conch news is good.
This largest of snails within the greater Caribbean is one of its classic foods. Today, it might be served to you in a salad, in a chowder, battered and fried, or as cerviche, and it was dinner to Caribbean peoples long before any Euro-African settlement began. Pre-Columbian “middens” containing thousands of queen conch shells can still be found throughout the region, and there was always enough conch me at for everyone. But in the early 1970s, numbers dropped
alarmingly across most of the species' range. The queen conch suddenly found itself at the sharp end of a burgeoning international market for its flesh and a growing tourist industry's desire for curios. At first only used to make bijouterie and cameo pieces, entire shells would eventually be jetted away in tourists' suitcases to become mantelpiece kitsch.
By the mid-1970s, the rich Florida-based fishery had entirely collapsed, and today if you swim from the Bahamas to Belize you'll see far fewer conches grazing among the sea-grass than 50 years ago. In 1992, the species was given CITES Appendix II listing (which restricts its international trade) – yet in 2004 the US was still importing 4–5 million pounds of queen conch meat (80% of the entire exported quantity), with just half a pound at best coming from each animal. This took its toll, and in most of the Caribbean, fishing for this once abundant creature is (at least in theory) now strictly controlled, and the animal a focus of conservation efforts.
Conch Pearl: The Only Natural Pink Pearl
What are conch pearls?
Pretty and pastel-hued, a conch pearl is a calcareous concretion produced by the Queen conch (pronounced “conk”) mollusc, which is a large, edible sea snail. Most often pink in colour and normally oval shaped, the finest examples display a wave-like “flame” structure on their surface and have a creamy, porcelain-like appearance and unique shimmer. Unlike pearls harvested from oysters, conch pearls – like other naturally occurring pearls, including the Melo and Giant Clam – are non-nacreous, which means they are not made of nacre, the substance that gives traditional pearls their iridescent lustre.
How are conch pearls formed?
It is believed that a conch pearl is formed when an irritant, often a broken bit of shell, enters the Queen conch, around which a calcareous concentration forms.
These concentric layers of fibrous crystals build up around the irritant, in the same way as kidney stones grow in humans.
Unlike oysters, which can be prized open to reveal the exact location of a pearl, no-one knows precisely where conch pearls are formed because of the elaborate whorled structure of a conch shell. Grown inside a pearl sac in the orange mantle of the Queen conch, they are normally found at the same time as the meat is cut out of the shell.
Where are conch pearls found?
Found in large groups of up to 200, Queen conches live among beds of sea grass in the warm tropical waters of the Caribbean, from the Yucatán all the way up to Bermuda. Conch pearls are a beautiful by-product of the fishing industry in this region. Caught primarily for its meat, the Queen conch is eaten throughout the Caribbean and the US, raw in salads or cooked in local delicacies such as chowders and fritters.
"Conch" is a common name that is applied to a number of different medium to large-sized shells. The term generally applies to large snails whose shell has a high
spire and a noticeable siphonal canal (in other words, the shell comes to a noticeable point at both ends).
In North America, a conch is often identified as a queen conch, indigenous to the waters of The Bahamas. Queen conchs are valued for seafood, and are also used as fish bait. The group of conchs that are sometimes referred to as "true conchs" are marine gastropod molluscs in the family Strombidae, specifically in the genus Strombus and other closely
related genera. For example, see Lobatus gigas, the queen conch, and Laevistrombus canarium, the dog conch. Many other species are also often called "conch", but are not at all closely related to the family Strombidae, including Melongena species (family Melongenidae), and the horse conch Triplofusus papillosus (family Fasciolariidae). Species commonly referred to as conchs also include the sacred chank or more correctly shankha shell (Turbinella pyrum) and other Turbinella species in the family Turbinellidae.
Many different kinds of mollusks can produce pearls. Pearls from the queen conch, L. gigas, are rare and have been collectors' items since Victorian times. Conch pearls occur in a range of hues, including white, brown and orange, with many intermediate shades, but pink is the colour most associated with the conch pearl, such that these pearls are sometimes referred to simply as "pink pearls". In some gemological texts, non-nacreous gastropod pearls used to be referred to as "calcareous concretions" because they were "porcellaneous" (shiny and ceramic-like in appearance), rather than "nacreous" (with a pearly lustre), sometimes known as "orient". The GIA and CIBJO now simply use the term "pearl"—or, where appropriate, the more descriptive term "non-nacreous pearl"—when referring to such items, and under Federal Trade Commission rules, various mollusc pearls may be referred to as "pearls" without qualification.
Although non-nacreous, the surface of fine conch pearls has a unique and attractive appearance of its own. The microstructure of conch pearls comprises partly aligned bundles of microcrystalline fibres that create a shimmering, slightly iridescent effect known as "flame structure". The effect is a form of chatoyancy, caused by the interaction of light rays with the microcrystals in the pearl's surface, and it somewhat resembles moiré silk.
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