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Journal Article

Inside black pearls


Dauphin,  Yannicke
Peter Fratzl, Biomaterialien, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Max Planck Society;

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Dauphin, Y., Belhadj, O., Bellot-Gurlet, L., Cotte, M., Lo, C., Medjoubi, K., et al. (2020). Inside black pearls. Materials Characterization, 163: 110276. doi:10.1016/j.matchar.2020.110276.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-F0C8-A
The quality of natural and cultured pearls depends on the size, shape and properties of the surface. The inner structure of the pearl is not known, and not taken into account. Indeed, it is assumed that the cultured pearl is a nucleus covered by a thin organic layer, a thin prismatic layer and a thick nacreous layer. The examination of spherical and pear shape samples resulting from the grafting of the black lip pearl oyster (Pinctada margaritifera) shows that this assumption is, in most cases, erroneous. Optical, electron and atomic force microscopic observations, infrared and Raman analyses, as well as micro X-ray fluorescence and micro X-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy data show that the inner structure of a pearl does not depend on its shape. Both circle or pear shape and spherical pearls show a large variability of the inner structures and composition. There are no two identical samples. Moreover, the arrangement is irregular within a single pearl, and some structures (aragonitic pseudo-prisms) do not exist in the shell.