Pteria penguin oyster shell with a small blister pearl. Blister (left) and eleven pearls from this oyster species are displayed in the foreground.
M.S. Krzemnicki, SSEF Swiss Gemological Institute
Natural Pearls: The beauty of diversity
Pearls have bacome beloved and affordable jewels since the emergence of large-scale pearl farming. Especially the huge production of cultured freshwater pearls from China has rendered necklaces containing such pearls accessible. Efforts to considerably improve culturing practices have resulted in ever better and more homogeneous pearls available for the world market. Unfortunately, these developments have overshadowed much of the exclusivity and singularity of natural pearls and relegated their particularities to a state of neat obscurity. Natural pearls are just not always perfect. It is specifically this individuality that makes natural pearls unique jewels.
In this and the following articles, the focus will be on natural pearls: beginning with pearls that present a mother-of-pearl lustre, to later examining porcelan-like natural pearls from mollusks (part 2) and to finnaly discussing those originating from marine gastropods (part 3).
Salty or sweet:
Numerous rivers in central Europe were more or less well known for their pearls in past times. The pollution of rivers due to industrial waste, means that these pearl-forming Mollusks have become rare and are protected species - reserving the presence of freshwater natural pearls to antique jewellery, these days. The number of natural saltwater pearls is much greater, being found from the Persian Golf to the Indian coast and all the way to the Pacific. The difference a criterion.
Freshwater pearls (both natural and cultured) have much greater concentrations of Manganese than saltwater pearls. Pearls are analysed using X-rays at the SSEF, both to visualise the internal structure of the pearl (radiography) and to record the X-ray luminecences of the pearls (freshwater pearls display a bright reaction due to their more elevated Mn concentration, whereas saltwater pearls remain dark). But it often remains difficult to classify physical or visual (e.g. colour) characteristics, which might facilitate classification. We have been able to analyse an important number of pearls in our laboratory in the past year with which Thomas Hochstrasser (Dörflingen) also kindly lent the corresponding shells for our research on natural pearls.
This especially large oyster species produces up to 20-30cm mighty shells, which often display beautiful mother-of-pearl. One differentiates between the Silver-lipped and Golden-lipped Pearl Oyster, depending on the colour of the mother-of-pearl towards the rim of the shell. Pinctada maxima can be found in the East Indian Ocean all the way to the tropical west Pacific; especially in Burma, southern Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and right up to Australian coast. In practically all these areas, pearls are cultured in Pinctada maxima host oysters and are marketed as the widely desired South Sea cultured pearls. It is often forgotten that natural pearls can also grow in these pearl oysters.
In this case, an irritation such as the snapping of a crab or the drilling of a borer is often the trigger for the formation of a natural pearl. Depending on wether the pearl lies completely in the organism, or adheres to the shell, or merily of a nacre-covered mount on the shell; pearl, a blister pearl or a blister. Pinctada maxima natural pearls generally have a colour ranging from white to cream or gold/yellow. Unlike most South Sea cultured pearls, which have a round nucleus, these natural pearls are commonly individual formed, ranging from a slight teardrop shape all the way througt to barock.
Singing bowls, produce the primordial sound of ’AUM’: The fundamental utterance of energy metamorphosing into matter. They alter space, mind and time; awakening cellular memory and healing the energy body. The act of listening to their captivating overtones effectively stops one's internal dialog, the ’Monkey Mind’. The individual is transported into a space of tranquillity and balance where the ’Universal Chord’, found within each self, is touched, joined with, and understood. The Universal Chord, if you will, is the primordial substance from which our whole reality is made and from which our universe originated. Although the vibrational energy of the bowls can be directed to a specific area for healing purposes, they work more on a fundamental level.
These instruments are used within meditations and physical vibrational healing techniques. Their harmonic resonance is used to:
#Reduce stress and pain
#Create vitality synchronization and spontaneous healing
#Effectively alter consciousness into a peaceful and expansive meditative state (trance induction)
Ira Road Cemetery is a small well-kept cemetery of about a hundred
graves just south of the Peninsula
area, in the Cuyahoga Valley park system, with a large open field off to
one side. It is close to a main road with moderate traffic. The
earliest burial dates
from 1829, with a few right up to the present. A couple of Civil War
soldiers are also buried here.
Orb activity was light to moderate, with one or two being exceptionally
The area of greatest activity seemed to be centered towards the very back of the cemetery on the
right hand side, which would be the southeast corner. Not only was that where most of the orb activity
was captured, but also this extremely rare shot of a blue mist in the same area, which was not seen anywhere else that night.
Two EVPs were caught that night, one of which being the most remarkable we've ever recorded. In the first
IRA CEMETERY CLIP 2006-1 one can
hear a short 2-syllable pharse of word being spoken at slightly faster than normal speed. It becomes
slightly clearer here
IRA CEMETERY CLIP 2006-1A,
but not much. The voice isolated on its own can be heard at IRA CEMETERY CLIP 2006-1B,
One cannot make out what is being said other than it is a voice that should not be there.
The second clip is one of the most interesting we've ever
caught. One of our group, Pat, had earlier
in the spring undergone extensive foot surgery that kept her off her
feet for more than two months. At this cemetery
is a small park-like bench towards the back. During this clip you can
hear the exchange where I suggest that there's a
bench nearby in case she'd like to sit for a bit. Pat replies, "No,I'm
better off walking" and then goes on to make a
comment about a nearby headstone. Soon after starting her comment she is
almost drowned out by a voice that seems to be
replying "Sit down here"! At first we weren't sure what was being said,
but the voice seems to be speaking with either a slight
Southern or New England accent. Once my wife noticed that, the rest just
clicked into place. The full exchange is heard here
IRA CEMETERY CLIP 2006-2 and a shorter, slightly enchanced
version here IRA CEMETERY CLIP 2006-2A. This implies that a
spirit or entity was not only present, but aware of our conversation as well!
IRA ROAD CEMETERY, SECOND INVESTIGATION - 9/30/07
Almost a year to the day after our initial investigation we had an
opportunity to revisit both Ira Road Cemetery (also known as Everett
Cemetery) and the covered bridge. We arrived about 45 minutes before
sunset, and after enjoying a spectacular sunset got quickly to work.
With 5 people present we covered the area in a systematic fashion,
concentrating on the back third area of the cemetery where we had
obtained results before. Unlike last time, there were almost no orbs
photos worthy of note. Immediately after it got fully dark,
however (about 20 minutes after sunset), we started picking up a
whitish mist that in later photographs seemed solid enough to be
compared with the old-fashioned ideas of what “ectoplasm” was.
The first photograph (above) was taken by my wife. It is interesting
to note that evidence of the mist was captured independently by two
different individuals, using two completely different cameras of
different makes and manufacturers, which helps during investigations
in ruling out a flaw in any particular camera.
In the first few images the mist seemed to build slowly and the
pictures needed to be enhanced to see it. Photos were obtained
of this patch of mist both near the ground, moving across and among
certain headstones, and above near the trees. It seemed to center
in that back area of the cemetery and moved along with us as we
took pictures. In some case it would appear in a single photograph,
be totally gone for the next few, and reappear 3 or 4 pictures later.
The ground was dry and humidity for that day was recorded about 65%.
Just before dusk it had reached the high for the day of 75-78,
and was still warm enough at the time of the investigation for
shorts and T-shirts. The mist moving from one headstone to another
makes it unlikely to have been normal ground fog, as does this
unique photo of a bright blue patch of mist that was photographed.
The vivid blue coloring does not appear naturally, especially at
night. It is interesting that a bluish-colored mist was also
captured at this same cemetery last year (see above).
These were the most spectacular images we obtained that night. Whoever was present was defintely trying to make itself known.
After appearing in various photographs for about a 10-minute period, it slowly faded
away and vanished, as if no longer interested in what we were doing.
These two enlargements come from the second and third photos above.
These sections clearly stand out in the originals. Are these faces
formed in the mist or just the power of suggestion?
We recorded some spectacular EVPs on this visit. My wife Sharon
started out conducting the EVP session and caught four different
responses over a ten minute period, coming from at least two distinct
individuals. It was the closest thing to a "give-and-take" conversation
we had yet encountered.
In the first clip, Sharon asks "Is anyone here with us?" and almost
immediately gets a response "Yes" from what appears to be a man's voice:
IRA CEMETERY CLIP 2007-1.
In the next, Sharon says she will leave the recorder at a particular
spot. Over her comments can be heard a woman's voice either singing or
humming: IRA CEMETERY CLIP 2007-2.
In the third, Sharon asks "How did you pass away?" and the response, again from a man, is the single word "fire": IRA CEMETERY CLIP 2007-3.
In the last, Sharon asks if there is anything more the spirits would
like to tell us. In the background, again from a woman, is a very clear
response "Oh I'm Sad": IRA CEMETERY CLIP 2007-4. These are among the clearest EVPs we have ever recorded, and would definitely be considered of the Class A variety.
Three or four other EVPs were also recorded that night, either noises or
voices that didn't belong there, but were either of a much lower
quality or otherwise indecipherable. A good example of one of these is IRA CEMETERY CLIP 2007-5,
which is just a garbled whispered voice. Other than the fact that it
appears to be the same man's voice again, nothing can be made out of it
when slowed down, filtered, or reversed. It would fall under the Class C
category. Needless to say, it was a very productive and worthwhile
visit and we will definetely return again some day.
EVERETT COVERED BRIDGE - 10/7/06
About a mile and a half down the road from Ira Cemetery sits the Everett
This bridge is actually a replica built in the 1970's after a series of
accidents heavily damaged the original.
Local folklore tells the story that on the night of February 1, 1877,
John Gilson and his wife tried crossing the
creek just north of this location. The horses bolted, tossing the wife
out of the wagon, and charged into the bone-chilling creek, now swollen
by recent rains. Mrs. Gilson was rescued, but her husband and the
horses perished. John's body was finally found four days later.
There have been several accounts of restless souls still roaming, only
this time, taking the safer route - the bridge. Perhaps it’s John Gilson
in his wagon crossing the bridge, trying to make his way home one final
There is another possibility to these legends, however. Immediately to
the right of the bridge is what used to be Chamberlain (Everett)
Cemetery. This was a private cemetery owned by the Chamberlain family.
Several decades ago, the cemetery was abandoned, but only a few of the
bodies were removed. All of the headstones have since disappeared. Over a
dozen graves still remain, forgotten and lost to memory. The spirits of
the remaining dead may be upset by this and still roam the area
surrounding the cemetery and bridge adjacent to it.
Not far from the covered bridge, the quiet streets of Everett also hold
an unknown and otherworldly phantom hitchhiker. The black shadow of a
man in a hat has been seen several times walking the dark road between
the bridge and the local Everett church. No one seems to know who he
might be, and he never stays long enough to tell his story.
On the night we were there, we obtained several good images of orb activity
on the bridge. The bridge is closed to traffic and is now only part of a footpath,
so it's easy to drive by this lonely setting, especially at night on a darkened
road, and miss it entirely.
Several images were taken of the wooded area to the right, in the reported
location of where the abandoned and forgotten Chambelain cemetery should be.
It borders the small stream that runs below the bridge, and is no heavily wooded
and overgrown. It would be difficult to find your way further in, especially at
night, without first scouting the area in daylight. Three or four images turned
up nothing particularly interesting except trees, but one photograph taken from the road
captured an especially strong, whitish-mist in that direction. It is interesting to note
that this image was not captured on the bridge, but might confirm the existence of the
lost Chamberlain cemetery right where local legend says it should be. (NOAA Weather indicates
air temperature at that time was a warm 60 degrees, which rules out the possibility
of it being exhaled breath.)
One EVP was recorded at the bridge that is just at the edge of being discernable. After examining
the inside of the bridge I move outside to start taking photographs of the outside area, and the wooded
area nearby where the abandoned cemetery is said to be located. Soon after I state that I will start
taking some views of the outside, a very faint voice is heard seconds later. It might be one of the faintest
we've yet captured. Upon cleaning up the audio and amplifying it a phrase is heard saying
"help me", as best I can make out. The full untouched
clip can be heard at
EVERETT BRIDGE CLIP 2006-1 ,
an isolated and slightly cleaned up version at
EVERETT BRIDGE CLIP 2006-1A , and another version slowed down to about 60% normal speed at
EVERETT BRIDGE CLIP 2006-1B.
What is remarkable is that it was caught at the same time as the mist photograph (above) was being
taken, implying a connection between the two. We welcome your suggestions at to what you hear in the clips!
We obviously plan on going
back for a more extensive investigation at some point in the future.
EVERETT COVERED BRIDGE, SECOND INVESTIGATION - 9/30/07
On our return to the bridge in 2007, after our second visit at Ira Cemetery,
we set up our equipment are were able to spend a little more time
than we did on our previous visit. Less photographic evidence was
obtained this time around, however, and no signs of any mist as
we had done the year before.
A number of orb photographs were too faint or unimpressive to be
included here, however three very bright orb photographs were
obtained surpassing anything we had seen on our previous
investigation. The first photo about was taken by me, the next
two were captured by my wife. All show a very bright, bluish-colored
orb both near the ground and also up near the rafters of the covered
bridge, close to where we were investigating.
photograph, though visually uninteresting, is notable for another
reason. On the extreme right can be seen a single orb, beyond the white
fence. Rather than on the bridge, it is in the very area just beside the
bridge where the lost graves are located. Perhaps it's tyring to show
Not much was caught this time at our second trip to the
covered bridge. We did, however, catch one very clip when it was silent
and no one was talking. On this clip EVERETT BRIDGE CLIP 2007-1
you can clearly hear the word "danger" near the end of the clip. We did
not feel that it meant we were in danger, but rather that a bridge site
where past tragedies had occurred could always be considered dangerous.
What's interesting is that last year's clip, which might be
interpreted as "help me", fits perfectly in with "danger" recorded
nearly a year later. This is one of the clearest EVPs we have ever
recorded, and would be considered a Class A example.
We will continue to study the site in the future.