Conch Pearls

Conch Pearls

Conch pearls come from the Queen Conch snail, also known as strombus gigas. Conch pearls are calcareous concretions of the queen conch mollusk.

Conch Pearl is of a calcium carbonate, conchiolin and water chemical formula. They have a hardness ranging from 2.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale and occur with a flame-like structure. The flame structure in conch pearls make them easy to identify and a clearly visible flame pattern is sought after and desired. The most coveted have a vibrant chatoyancy that allows the flame to be visible to the naked eye.

Conch pearls have a pearl structure but, like melo melo pearls, are non-nacreous according to the Gemological Institute of America. They have a creamy, porcelain-like appearance and a unique shimmer.

South sea pearls, freshwater pearls and the Mikimoto pearls come from oysters and mussels. Conch pearls come from conchs and they take a long time to be made and therefore are rare and expensive. The rarity and thus the value of conch pearls far exceed that of natural pearls. It is said that it takes 10,000 conchs to find one natural conch pearl and of those, only 1 in 100 is gem quality.

Conch pearls are also called pink pearls. They are found in a variety of colours, from white, beige, yellow and brown to golden and many different shades of pink. White conch pearls are super rare, and the golden yellow conch pearls are known as Golden Pearls.

Conch shells have been prized by ancient civilizations for the sound that they make. When blown, the sound heard from the conch shell is said to be symbolic of the sacred "Om" sound. The conch was revered in many ancient religions.

Conch pearls have been cultured in 2009 by the Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI). However, they still remain a rare gemstone not affordable to the common working person. Maybe very soon everyone will be able to buy pink pearls. We should, nevertheless be aware of imitations such as glass, coral and pieces of common shell.

Moreover, the queen conchs live in warm tropical waters from the Caribbean all the way up to Bermuda. Overfishing has caused a decline in the number of new conch pearls, with some places now banning the fishing of Queen conchs.

Finally, the color of conch pearls is known to fade away after prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. So, it is not recommended for every day jewelry.