MUSSEL SHELL NUCLEI
All nuclei are manufactured using only the best quality freshwater mussel shells. Each shell is specially selected for colour and structure and only if they meet these criteria are they further processed. Once the shells have been cut and cubed, they then enter the nuclei forming process. This consists of a series of stages that takes the shell from cube to finished bead. Each process uses precision machinery to enable us to achieve the exacting specifications set out by our technicians.
The finished nuclei is perfectly round and features a surface finish and polish, unequaled. Our nuclei are the perfect basis for the production of beautiful pearls. We can supply nuclei in various categories including:
A White - smooth, round, very little to no internal structure
B White - smooth, round, some internal structure
1st Grade stain - smooth, round, light to medium stain
2nd Grade stain - smooth, round, medium to heavy stain
Standard sizes range from 5mm up to 18mm but other sizes can be manufactured on request.
Many different nucleus materials have been used in pearling, both natural and synthetic, but shell material is predominantly the material used for round pearls. With mussel shell stocks in decline, especially for the larger sizes required for South Sea Pearl production, an alternative is required to cater for this need.
Nacre will grow on nearly any solid material; indeed plastics are used for mabe production. However with round pearls where the nucleus remains, it must have a comparable coefficient of expansion to the nacre. Resins and plastic have very high coefficients leading to flaking nacre with these nuclei.
Bironite is a natural dolomite that has been modified by a process to overcome these deficiencies. This raw material is carefully hand chosen prior to entering the production phase. It is sourced from a special part of the world where it began its life as remnants of shells and other marine organisms. Over time and after being subjected to the Earth’s pressures, this unique material is transformed. It is the most stable carbonate material and sourced from a marine environment.
Bironite, after modification, exhibits the necessary characteristics for pearl production. It has a similar hardness & specific gravity and comparable coefficient of expansion. In fact, it is a more uniform and consistent material than mussel shell itself. It drills more uniformly and does not tend to split or crack during manufacturing.
Although we can manufacture in any diameter, the larger sizes are our focus due to the high cost and low availability of mussel shell. Cost advantages are considerable especially in these larger size ranges.
HALF PEARL (MABE) NUCLEI
One of the first types of cultured pearls produced were half pearls. The Chinese experimented with and produced many types of half pearls or 'Mabe' as they are collectively known but perhaps one of the most often quoted were Buddha's. They would attach lead Buddha's on the inside of the shells and within a short period of time, a half pearl would form.
We can offer modern day pearl farmers are variety of shapes and sizes including half rounds, ovals, drops, stars and hearts.
As the 'mother of all pearls', the quality of the nuclei your technician uses is of vital importance. If it's out of round, has flat spots, cracks or other defects, this can all impact on pearl quality. At Pearling Technologies, we developed our own unique processing techniques to ensure we can provide the highest quality nuclei in the world.
We have developed our own antibacterial applications for pearl nuclei. Traditional bio-coatings apply a layer of anti-bacterial substance to the outside of the nucleus. Once implanted inside the oyster, the coating is absorbed by the oyster and helps to prevent bacteria from causing pearl rejection and mortality and can also help with the formation of the pearl sac.
Our application is not a coating but an impregnation. The nucleus is treated with similar anti-bacterials but instead of a coating applied to the outside of the nucleus the anti-bacterial agent is impregnated into the organic matter of the nucleus (conchiolin).
Handling impregnated nuclei is also easier as the anti-biotic does not rub off as it can do with traditional bio-coats. All self-sterilized nuclei are securely and conveniently packed.