Edison Pearl Gemstone
“There are two things which couldn’t be made at my laboratory – diamonds and pearls.” –Thomas Edison. Thomas Edison famously said that he could neither create diamonds or pearls. Eventually, the jewelry industry would prove him wrong on both counts. Edison pearls represent years of hard work and innovation at the hands of the Zhan family, the creators of Edison pearls. A newcomer to the pearl industry and jewelry scene, what is it that makes Edison pearls so desirable?
What Color is Edison Pearl?
Often, we find ourselves thinking of the quintessential pearl as a pure white organic gem. Here, Edison pearls don’t disappoint! These cultured pearls undergo treatment to ensure a strong and uniform white color, ensuring they all match. In addition, expect to witness a unique Orient with Edison pearls. This iridescent sheen contains notes of muted yellows, pinks, blues, and greens. Edison pearls are well poised to become a modern classic, alongside Akoya pearls and South Sea pearls.
Other Edison Pearl Qualities
Besides its awesome white color, the most striking characteristic of an Edison pearl is its size. At Shop LC, you’ll find these pearls ranging in size from 10-millimeters to 15-millimeters. This dominates other Chinese cultured pearls and rivals South Sea pearls in size. Due to the proprietary cultivation techniques, it is extremely rare to find Edison pearls in sizes over 15-millimeters.
Nucleation is the special process used to create cultured pearls. Traditionally, with freshwater pearls, a piece of shell is seeded into the mollusk to start the process. Edison pearls have adapted saltwater pearl techniques, and use a perfectly round bead. By using a bead, Edison pearls produce wonderfully round near-round and round shapes. While irregular baroque pearls are growing in popularity, rounds pearls are the classic gold standard by which pearls are still judged. This makes Edison pearls a timeless choice when choosing pearl jewelry.
Expect a fair to good luster from Edison pearls. Many dealers were astounded at the quality of these gems when they first entered the market and were surprisingly pleased with the quality of the pearls’ luster. These pearls possess an intense metallic luster rarely seen anywhere else.
The surface of Edison pearls is clean and largely free of any blemish. These pearls undergo washing after harvest, which removes any remaining matter from the pearls. Afterward, they are bleached to achieve their even color. Depending on the pearl, this process can take anywhere from a week to 60 days.
Who Should Wear Edison Pearls?
Edison pearls are positioning themselves as a very affordable alternative to more expensive white South Sea pearls. With an efficient culturing process, Edison pearls provide a similar look to their saltwater cousins, without the higher price tag. If you love the classic look Akoya pearls create, but always wanted something larger, then Edison pearls are the option for you. Though a new player to the market, many dealers are eyeing Edison pearls as the new standard in modern pearls for their affordability and quality.
The Future of Edison Pearls
With the growth of the Chinese middle class, there is a larger demand than ever before for luxury goods. Items like jewelry are an easy way to express one’s increased social standing, meaning that pearl prices are rising. This is especially true for Chinese cultured pearls. In China, consumers are willing to pay a higher price than ever before. In Western markets, this is reflected by a steady rise in prices over the last 10 to 15 years.
Pearls farms know they can receive a good price domestically, meaning they’re not worried about passing along a higher cost to other markets. Due to the demand for these gems, it is very difficult to make buying appointments. Shop LC was able to secure our supply of Edison pearls after months of negotiation. Our industry reputation and proven buying power allowed us to negotiate lower than the average market price.
Pearl farming is also an industry with a rising blue-collar workforce. Fewer young people are entering the trade, as many prefer to pursue academic educations. For this reason, skilled workers are fetching a premium wage. This is especially vital to the industry, as many age out by their mid-40s. Pearl sorting is a task that is taxing on the eyes. As a result, reforms are occurring in the pearl industry to acquire and keep the skilled employees required to manage the operation.
The Edison Pearl Name
• If you haven’t guessed by now, the Edison pearl name is an homage, of sorts, to Thomas Edison. A famed inventor in his time, Edison famously struck up a friendship with Kokichi Mikimoto late in the lives of both men. Mikimoto was responsible for developing and refining many of the techniques that make modern pearl farming possible. He also developed the famous Japanese Akoya cultured pearl.
• When the two men first met, Mikimoto presented Edison with a sample of the pearls he was developing. Here, Edison famously remarked, “There are two things which couldn’t be made at my laboratory – diamonds and pearls. It is one of the wonders of the world that you were able to culture pearls. It is something which is supposed to be biologically impossible.”
• Thanks to this endorsement, Akoya pearls were cemented in the public consciousness. For this reason, the Zhan family decided to name their new pearl after Edison. Sometimes seen as a back-handed compliment, without Edison the early cultured pearl industry may have continued to struggle.
Location: Zhejiang, China
Pearl farming occurs all over the world, and represent over 99-percent of pearls on the market today. China is one of the largest pearl producing countries, best-known for their freshwater cultured pearls. Edison pearls are cultured in the Zhejiang region of China.
The town of Zhuji is the epicenter of the Edison pearl movement. It is here that the Zhan family has perfected the creation of these pearls. It has taken over 20 years of research to develop the proprietary techniques used in farming Edison pearls.
Culturing Edison Pearls
While the actual techniques for culturing Edison pearls are closely guarded, the overall process isn’t much different than traditional pearl aquaculture.
First, pearl farms must raise their host stock. Typically, this is a portion of the previous year’s oysters, reserved for breeding and hosting a new generation of mollusks. Many farms experiment with hybridizing their mollusk population over time. Edison pearls are cultured in a carefully controlled pedigree of oysters. Years of research where spent breeding the perfect pearl oyster.
Once it is time, these animals are nucleated. This is the process of inserting the core bead that becomes the pearl. Unlike traditional Chinese pearl farming, oysters are only inserted with a single nucleus. Like their South Sea pearl counterparts, growing a single pearl produces a smaller yield. However, the benefit of this ensures a larger, higher-quality pearl for the effort. Edison pearls require two to three years to form. As a result, you rarely see pearls occurring that are larger than 15-millimeters.
Harvesting pearls show the sustainability of pearl farming. Those mollusks still capable of bearing pearls will be seeded for the next harvest. Those that no longer produce are sold for their yield of meat, popular in many markets worldwide. Shells are also recycled. Most are crushed and used in construction projects. Practically all parts of these oysters are used during the farming lifecycle.
Besides near total consumption of the mollusk, pearl farming is an environmentally conscious practice. Farms contribute to water conservation as clean water produces the best pearls. For this reason, a majority of pearl farms are involved in projects that work toward ensuring clean waters for the planet to enjoy.
• Ranks 2.5 to 4.0 on the Mohs scale of hardness.
• Edison pearls display a uniform white color and unique Orient.
• Shop LC sources these pearls from Zhejiang, China, the home of Edison pearls.
• Edison pearls undergo bleaching to improve color, a traditional treatment method.