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Majorica is the brand name of imitation pearls made by Majorica, S.A. (a Spanish registered company) on the Spanish island of Majorca in the Mediterranean since 1890. Majorica pearls have a closer resemblance to natural pearls, than any other type of imitation pearl (e.g. plastic beads).
Majorica pearls are not formed in mollusks, but are man-made on solid glass balls coated with layers of pigmented and protective lacquers. They begin from high density dull glass with a specific weight, similar to that of real pearls. These nuclei are then dipped into a special pearly liquid, hemage, an adhesive paste made of oil and ground up fish scales or mother-of-pearl for their iridescence.
The coated nuclei are then dried and polished by hand to remove imperfections such as bumps and blemishes. This coating process is repeated (around 30 times) until a multitude of fine layers is formed over the nuclei, building up the density and color uniformity. To assure durability, the formed, blended multiple layers are subjected to various gases and solutions that make them impervious to discoloration, chipping and peeling.
Majorica pearls are different from oyster pearls in several respects. Majorica pearls are man-made in a factory under strict control of the manufacturing process; whereas oyster pearls grow in nature with frequent irregularities uncontrolled by man. It takes only several weeks to produce a Majorica pearl, while it takes years to obtain a sizable oyster pearl and only 5% are gem quality pearls. Majorica pearls lack individuality, as every Majorica pearl is perfectly matched and round-shaped whereas no two oyster pearls are alike. Oyster pearl's peculiarity stems from its certain blemish, similar to birthmarks or fingerprints.
Over the years a number of cheap imitations have surfaced using confusing names such as pearls from Majorca or Majorca pearls. These are all lower quality imitations trading on the brand recognition quality and image of true Majorica pearls.