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Scallop Pearls

Scallop Pearls are formed in the bodies of the Atlantic Sea Scallop, whose Latin name is placpecten magellanicus, or in the Pacific "Lion’s Paw" or "Mano de Leon". The scallop is recognized for its fluted shell whose ridges radiate out from the center like an opened fan, and can be colored anywhere from dark brown to orange on the outside, and white to purple or brown on the inside.

A byproduct of the scalloping industry, the Pearls formed in the scallops’ bodies are found only rarely during the course of any one scalloper’s fishing life. These Pearls are what are termed non-nacreous, as they are formed of calcium carbonate, without any of the attendant luster that stems from the typical nacre or pearly layered buildup that is seen on typical Pearls. The Scallop Pearl is the same in composition to other non-nacreous Pearl-bearing mollusks, like the conch or the melo melo, which is a sea snail.

The Scallop Pearl has its own mysterious beauty, though, in that it exhibits what is termed aventurescence – a type of reflection from tiny planes of color that twinkle beneath the Pearl’s surface. This gives it almost a three dimensional aspect, as it glimmers while being turned, and each tiny platelet in turn picks up and reflects any nearby light source. This effect is similar to that of the Conch Pearl, which has more of the appearance of flames.

Another specialty of the Scallop Pearl is that it is more often symmetrical – either oval, round, drop or button-shaped. However, these naturally formed pearls are prone to the usual bumps that form in the haphazard calcium carbonate buildup.

The Scallop Pearl, as it is found in the wild-caught scallops, may be anywhere from a tiny seed to forty carats in size. Its color can range from a rare maroon, to more of a purple, to orange or pink.

As scallopers bring in their catch, shuck or open them, and cut out the desirable muscle, they are likely to fling the shells overboard, not necessarily expecting to find a Pearl. Pearls occur so infrequently that they are not actively sought after, and as rarity increases, so does the value, especially for good-looking specimens. These are usually priced high for collectors, and can run to hundreds or thousands of dollars per carat.

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