Certified Pearl Professional
The ISG Certified Pearl Professional course is a complete education in pearls that will provide a professional level education in the pearl industry. This course takes the student through the formation process of various types of pearls, how these formations create different structures of pearls, the pearl types, pearl grading, and pearl marketing. A free preview of this course is available below.
The course consists of 9 lessons with many high-quality images, videos, and demonstrations to help the student get the highest level of education as a Certified Pearl Professional.
Completion of this course awards the student the title of Certified Pearl Professional, and a Certificate of Completion and Badge are provided for printing upon completion of the course materials and examinations.
Course is available in multiple languages, please contact the ISG for any questions.
Please follow these steps to begin your path as a Certified Pearl Professional:
Certificate of Completion: Yes. You will receive your digital Certified Pearl Professional Certificate of Completion and your Certified Pearl Professional Badge via PDF by email within 5 days.
How to Begin:
- When you pay for this course using any credit card or your account on PayPal you will be able to start immediately.
- SSL Secure Payments can be made through PayPal using any credit card or PayPal card using the PayPal payment system. Payments can also be made using our new Stripe Credit Card terminal available at check out. You do not need to have a PayPal Account to use your credit card through PayPal. Please follow these steps carefully.:
- Click on the BUY NOW button on the upper right side of this page.
- The payment gateway will take you through the PayPal payment system. PayPal uses either a PayPal account or you can use other credit cards with PayPal without having a PayPal Account.
- Once you receive payment confirmation you will be brought back to your course to begin or to the Gemology.pro website. Either way, go to the course home page to begin. You can also access the course page through your Profile Page available at your user name in the top right corner of the home page.
- Once you have returned to the course home page click the Start the Course button to begin.
- When you complete your course, go to your Profile Page by clicking your username in the top right corner of the website page.
- Go to the Certificates and Badges section.
- You will print your Certified Pearls Professional Certificate of Completion, then right click and save your Certified Pearls Professional Badge.
ISG Pearls Course Lesson 1
The History of Pearls
It is difficult to know just how far back people have treasured pearls. But one thing is known, pearls have been around far longer than man has. Perhaps the strongest clue can be found in the sedimentary rock of the Texas Hill Country where one can find oyster shells encrusted in fossil sediments from the Cretaceous Period, some 100 million years ago, that are exactly like the oyster shells that are dredged up from shallow sea oyster beds around the world today. Since the first natural pearls are the result of an intrusion making its way into an oyster shell without the help of people, it can only be surmised that these prehistoric oysters also created their own pearls those many millions of years ago.
Of course, the problem is, what is a pearl worth when there is no one around to appreciate it? In fact, for those ancient oysters the pearl was the result of an irritant that made its way into the shell of the oyster. So rather than being a thing of value and beauty, the pearl was actually the result of what would today be a splinter in one of our fingers, at least to the oyster.
It was not until people could find pearls and appreciate their beauty that pearls joined the ranks of gem materials. The first people to find pearls were reported to be fishermen along the coast of India and East Asia. These groups of fishing nomads would dig oysters from the shallow waters and open them for a tasty dinner. Occasionally, one would open the shell to find a beautiful shiny white pearl inside considering it a gift from the gods. As they began to use pearls for trade based on their rarity and beauty, the first true gemstone market was created.
BC to AD
To appreciate the true value of pearls during the period of 2500 B.C. to the late 19th Century, one has to remember that all pearls that existed were natural. Every pearl had been formed by the chance intrusion into an oyster of an irritant that caused the oyster to cover it with nacre. This means that every pearl was very, very rare. Add beauty to rarity, and you get value. Lots of it. So much, in fact, that only the very, very rich could afford to own even a single pearl earring.
The main sources of these pearls were the waters of the Persian Gulf, the shallow waters off the coast of present-day Sri Lanka, the Indian Ocean, and the Sea of Japan. These areas not only had a large population of oysters, but also offered the water temperature and seasons that allowed the oysters to spend years making these natural pearls. The secondary sources of natural pearls were the rivers and lakes that contained various types of mussels that made natural freshwater pearls. While these were also very rare, they did not rival the size and beauty of the saltwater pearls found in the above-mentioned sources.
There are many stories about the value of pearls through the centuries of recorded history. Each involves a king or queen, ruler or general, who used the value of pearls to secure a kingdom, form an army, etc., that required a high value investment. Pearls were considered of such high value that even a small set of pearl earrings was beyond any common person’s ability to own. Tributes were paid from one country to another in pearls. Ransoms were paid in pearls. Even the religious texts of the Bible, Koran, and other great religions refer to Heaven as being draped in pearls, or pearls being a gift to those who made it to the “Pearly Gates”.
Those of us in the era of cultured pearls cannot fully comprehend the value of pearls in historical times. This is mainly because we cannot comprehend the rarity of finding a natural pearl, and even more rare was finding enough to create a matching set or even a matching strand of natural pearls. They were so very, very rare, and expensive that throughout the ages pearls have been considered the item that only kings could afford.
You may be asking…where are all of these natural pearls of times gone by; the pearl necklaces that were worn by Cleopatra, the Kings of Persia, and the Royals of India? We can easily find other historical gemstones that were from the same periods. The Hope Diamond, the Black Prince’s Ruby, the Colombian Emeralds in the Topkapi Dagger, and various historical gemstones that have adorned royalty for hundreds of years but where are all of these pearls that were mentioned in so many ancient writings?
Truth is that pearls have their own life span. Unlike gemstones such as diamonds, rubies and emeralds, pearls are organic creations of an oyster. And due to their structure, a pearl has a lifetime of about 150 years. This means that we can see some of these pearls from perhaps as late as the 1850’s, but beyond that the pearl itself will start to break down and deteriorate, to the point that it peels apart and disintegrates. This created a situation where we read about the wonderful dresses embroidered in pearls worn by the Romans, and in some cases see ancient pearl jewelry in a museum, but virtually all of the pearls from ancient jewelry items have long since disintegrated based on the calcium carbonate from which they came. But we are getting ahead of ourselves here. We are now up to the very early 1900s, where a man named Kokichi Mikimoto is about to change the world of pearls forever.
The Age of Cultured Pearls
There were actually several players involved in the development of cultured pearls. Names like Nishikawa, Mise, and Alverdes, but as is usually the case, it is the person with the best marketing organization that gets the credit (you might remember that Mr. Tesla invented the radio…but it is Mr. Marconi who is remembered for it).
At any rate, there were many attempts, some successful and some not, going on at the same time that Mr. Mikimoto was working on his process for culturing pearls. While we will go further into that process in a later chapter, it should be noted that it was Mr. Mikimoto who perfected not only the process of making cultured pearls but also brought that process to fruition with a marketing plan that worked.
Kokichi Mikimoto found a method of artificially introducing a small foreign object (we will talk about the specifics later) into just the right place inside an oyster so that it would (1) not kill the oyster, but (2) irritate the oyster enough that the oyster would cover it with nacre, and (3) stay with the oyster long enough to get big enough to become a pearl.
Now, that was a lot easier said than done. The Sea of Japan had seasons that required the oysters to migrate during the winter months since the water got too cold, and the oysters had to be protected from parasites to insure that they lived long enough to make the cultured pearl. All of these problems had to be solved before a commercially viable source of cultured pearls would be available.
Remember the three attributes of a gem material: Beauty. Durability. Availability. Mr. Mikimoto had the beauty. He had the durability as proven by centuries of pearl history. What he did not have was availability. enough products to create a market for cultured pearls.
To understand the process, we will take a look at the processes that go into making a cultured pearl in the next lesson.
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