Pearl beads have been used in jewelry making across history. They were naturally found in fresh or seawater oysters, and were drilled through the middle to be strung into jewelry.

Throughout ancient empires, these pearls were rare, breath-taking and highly sought after. There are many early Hindu fables and urban legends existing about the value of the pearl bead.

Modern society does not afford them the same level of value. This is because today's plastic pearls are mass produced which has devalued the real pearl's once-unique appearance.

Pearl beads, whether real, cultured, plastic or mother of pearl, can be used in jewelry making to produce some stunning results.

Depending on your tastes and budget, there is a peal bead to suit your needs.

Real pearl beads

George Frederick Kunz believed that the first pearls to be appreciated by humans were a tribe along the coast of India. He claims these fishermen discovered them while opening oysters for food and were enthralled by their natural beauty.

Evidence of their worth and value in Chinese and ancient cultures extending back beyond the 23rd Century BC.

With appearances in religion, stories of Cleopatra and long ago tales, pearl beads have captivated the attention of humankind for centuries.

Real pearl beads are still strung into exquisite necklaces today, but their value has been greatly undercut by the popularity of other precious stones.

Cultured pearl beads

Cultured pearl beads are 'created' using a technique that Tokichi Nishikawa mastered in Japan at the beginning of the 20th century. A thin membrane was inserted into an oyster by a special needle, forcing them to produce a pearl.

This technique completely changed the pearling industry. While pearl beads were traditionally only worn by nobility, cultured pearl beads became available quite inexpensively to all, in various shapes and sizes.

Plastic pearl beads

Further to real pearls or cultured pearls, plastic pearl beads are also freely available in the beading world. They are different from the glass pearl bead in that their surface is not as shiny or as mirror-like, making them much more muted and subtle in appearance.

They look far more like a real pearl than a glass pearl bead, but are much lighter and a lot cheaper. These plastic pearl beads are easily manufactured in many sizes, and the tear-drop shape is popular for jewelry making.

Plastic pearl beads are incredibly cheap because they are able to be produced on such a large scale, and this price makes them great for beaded jewelry making.

Plastic pearls are used in many pieces of handmade and costume jewelry produced around the world today.

Mother-of-pearl beads

Mother of pearl beads are fashioned from the colorful, iridescent inside lining of seashells of certain mollusks. These seashells create a rainbow-like illusion to the viewer, and have been used to fashion mother-of-pearl beads in jewelry making for some time.

Particularly popular as pendants, mother of pearl beads are one of nature's treasures that can lend great beauty to your jewelry pieces.

The Egyptian people were thought to use the mother of peal bead first in jewelry before 4000 BC. The Egyptian love of decoration and adornment is well known to all historians, and the popularity of mother of pearl beads has followed on since this time.

Available to consumers quite cheaply now, mother of pearl is a natural wonder that is affordable and breath-taking. Mother of pearl beads are particularly effective in summer fashions, and are often used with shells.

Also called 'nacre', mother of pearl beads are used the world over in jewelry to produce quite stunning and inexpensive jewelry pieces.

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