Look at this beauty! In recent blog posts I have been discussing non-nacreous pearls. Do you know what they are? Well, I previously called them pearls without the luster. Which, is so not true!! Look at this pink conch pearl and tell me it doesn’t have its own bit of shine!
Well non-nacreous pearls are pearls without the same luster that we think of when we think of pearls. They are almost porcelain like. I have used some fabulous photos of conch pearls which made me think, “Gosh I should devote a whole post to these beautiful non-nacreous PINK pearls!!”
First thing first, conch pearls come from that fabulous pink shell that you will easily find on the beach through the Caribbean.
The Conch Shell
Look at that amazing shell!
As you know, mollusks make pearls from the same material they use to make their shell so this fabulous conch makes the ever so fabulous conch pearl!
But, here is the deal, this conch is not a bivalve, is it? A bivalve has two shells that close right up… think of a clam, an oyster, a mussel, etc. And in that sweet little home, it is easy (well, let’s say easier) to make a pearl and to hold onto it. This conch is a sea snail. And like all snails it can retreat into its shell or it can come out to move around. Not a good spot for hiding pearls.
Rare Conch Pearls
We like to say, as a rule of thumb that one in every thousand bivalve mollusks produce a pearl. Now, this may or may not be a marketable “pearl.” It might be a small pearl, an ugly pearl, a misshapen pearl or whatever but it is some type of pearl and for every thousand bivalve shells you open, you will, on average find one pearl. With conchs, the number is higher. For every 10,000 conch harvested, we will find one pearl. So you are ten times LESS likely to find a conch pearl.
Now, I say harvest, because just like other seafood, conchs are harvested and eaten and, occasionally pearls are found. See that hole at the top of the shell. Yum, yum! That is where fishermen pull out the conch met.
Because of a conch’s unique shape, it is very difficult to find a round conch pearl and, when you do, the price tag is much higher. A gemologist from New York shared that, up to the late seventies, conch pearls were not very expensive in the West Indies. “I remember the time when fishermen would ask 150 French francs for a nice one (live and learn, I should have bought all I could then, I might have been rich today).” And he might have been. Conch pearls are incredible expensive these days.
I found this beautiful conch pearl at a wholesale jewelry market for $70,000.
Conch Pearl Prices
Of course pricing has to do with a lot of factors including the seller and the value they place on their gems, the size, shape, the presence of a flame structure, etc. I just remember being amazed. When I came across this gem, over 5 years ago, it was the most expensive pearl I had seen that was for sale! And guess what, they wouldn’t let me touch it! 🙂
Now, the main difference with conch pearls and other non-nacreous pearls is that they are not formed the same way nacreous pearls are formed with their layers upon layers of nacreous pearl deposits. They are more like a calcium deposit. Which is kind of cool. We even had a friend on The Pearl Girls Facebook page jokingly ask why kidney stones done have value. Well, ahem, these are similar to calcium deposits. And there is lots of value in these conch pearls!
Now, something to consider before dropping $70,000 is that there are more affordable conch pearls. I even just scored three conch pearls from St. Croix. Look at them here. And it gives me a marvelous idea for another pearl adventure!!
So, there is always that option for those of you who can’t live without these pink pearl beauties! And I may have kept a conch pearl for myself so I can one day make a diamond and conch pearl ring. You know, a girl has to have dreams!
And now for Heidi Klum rocking some conch pearls at the 2009 Academy Awards…. those are some seriously beautiful conchs!!!
I am a modern day treasure hunter who travels the world for gorgeous pearls and amazing adventures. I own a pearl jewelry and jewelry repair business, ThePearlGirls.com, with a cute retail store in Athens, GA. I also have a Pearl Travel business and travel blog at TheWorldofPearl.com.