Pearls

 

         Pearls have been a source of fascination for centuries. They have been considered the most magical and feminine of all gems and are the only one created by a living organism. Pearls emanate a certain warmth and glow not found in other gems, due to their unique beginnings.
         Pearls are found in pearl oysters. However, the origin of the pearl mystified humans for centuries. Many theories were put forward regarding the origin of pearls however, it wasn't until the turn of the twentieth century that the relationship between pearl oysters and parasites was discovered.
         Pearls were created when a foreign body of some sort, such as a grain of sand or a parasite, found its way into a pearl oyster. The oyster reacted by coating the irritant with layer upon layer of the pearly substance known as 'nacre', that gives the pearl its unique appearance and iridescent beauty. This unique relationship gave birth to the natural pearl.
The cultured pearl was created as a way of guaranteeing a steady supply of pearls and satisfying the demands of the consumer. Cultured pearls are formed with a helping hand. In this case, humans rather than nature introduce the irritant: a bead or nucleus is inserted into the oyster by a technician to create a pearl which turns out every bit as natural as one that originated in the wild.
        Due to the rarity and high price of natural pearls, cultured pearls feature predominantly on the market. Side by side, it is very difficult to tell the difference between a natural pearl and a high quality cultured pearl with the naked eye. The pearl is the birthstone for June, and also the anniversary gem for the Third and Thirtieth Wedding Anniversaries. Recognized as the emblem of modesty, chastity and purity, pearls have also come to symbolize a happy marriage.
 

Types of Pearls

 

         South Sea Pearls  There are two basic groups of South Sea cultured pearls: white and black. Pearls from the white group are primarily cultured in the northern waters of Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia. Their rarity and exceptional sizes, from 8 to 20mm, make them highly prized. Their colors range from white and silvery blue to pale gold - the golden or light-yellowish varieties abound in Philippine and Indonesian waters while white or silvery hues occur mainly in Australian waters.
        Tahitian Pearls    The cultured pearl of Tahiti is synonymous with magic and perfection. Most come from the atolls and lagoons of the South Pacific. They tend more toward drop shapes than round and vary in size from 7 to 15mm. They can be black, silver, dark or light gray. The rarest color is "peacock green"the greenish black color of a peacock feather.
         Akoya Pearls   Considered the classic amongst cultured pearls, Akoya Pearls are primarily round or oval in shape and measure 2 to 10mm. They are cultured in southwestern Japan and China. Their colors range from pinkish white to creamy shades and silvery blue.
         Chinese Freshwater Pearls  are grown in an amazing variety of delicate shapes ranging from round and oval to button, drop and baroque. Their colors vary from pure white to orange and rosy violet.
          Mabé Pearls  are attractive half pearls with beautiful, rainbow-colored iridescence. The pearl was named after the mabé pearl oyster which is found mainly in the tropical seas of Southeast Asia and in the Japanese islands around Okinawa. Mabé pearls are available in round, oval, cushion, drop and heart shapes.
          Keshi Pearls  Possessing a whimsical charm entirely different to the perfectly round, large pearls, seedless keshi pearls arise spontaneously in the culture of Akoya, and South Sea pearls. These small freeform pearls make fascinating necklaces in colors ranging from silvery white to silvery gray.

 

Diamonds

Type of Pearl Strands

      

 
         Pearl Choker – 16 inches   The pearl choker is a classic and can be worn to any occasion, with any style. As this is the shortest style of pearl necklace, it would be better not to wear this style of pearl necklace if you have a short or long neck as it draws attention to the neck.
 
        Pearl Princess – 18 inches  The length of this pearl necklace falls right around the neckline and accents the collar-bone. This is a great style of pearl necklace for office attire as it falls right around the neckline of a blouse.
 
        Pearl Matinee – 24 inches  As a longer and more dramatic style of pearl necklace, the matinee is great for more formal events. This is also a good style of pearl necklace for girls with larger chests as it draws attention to the neck and shoulders and ends right above the cleavage.
 
        Pearl Opera – 32 inches  This style of pearl necklace can be more versatile as it is long enough for a dramatic evening effect, and also can be double up to be worn as a choker for daytime events.
 
        Pearl Rope – 46 inches   The pearl rope can be styled into numerous fashions. This strand can be double or tripled, twisted and knotted, and falls somewhere around the waistline. This style of pearl necklace is definitely an important piece for the fashion-forward.
 

 

Pearl Characteristics

 

      The most important factors taken into consideration when valuing cultured pearls are luster, color, shape, surface and size.  Generally speaking the larger and more flawless the pearl, the more valuable it is.

 

Color

Pearls present a whole palette of colors to choose from. Light colored pearls are produced in shades of white, pink, silver, gold and blue, while dark colored pearls range from peacock green and aborigines purple to all the shades of gray.

Above all, a pearl's color is a question of personal taste. Although some shades are especially rare or popular and therefore highly valued, such as rosy white, silvery white and pale gold, the color of a pearl is certainly not an indication of its quality.

 

Luster

      The most important indication of a pearl's quality is luster. The luster of a pearl refers to the glowing appearance of its surface, and is judged by it brilliance and ability to reflect light. A pearl with a high luster will be very shiny and show reflections like a mirror while a pearl with poor luster will appear very milky or chalky.

         Luster is determined by the quality of a pearl's nacre-its transparency, smoothness and overall thickness. Factors affecting the quality of the nacre include the cultivation place, the health of the mother oyster, the length of time spent in the oyster, pollution and the type of oyster used. Only strong layers of nacre can produce deep luster.

          It is better not to compromise on luster as this feature cannot be hidden or enhanced by its jewelry mount.

 

Shape

 The shape of a pearl plays a major role in determining its value. Pearls can be divided into four basic groups of shape. These are in order of value:

Round

 

Off-round 

Slightly round or ovalish

Semi-baroque    

Not round. Some examples are pear, drop, egg and button shapes

Baroque

Very irregular in shape with a surface that is often very uneven, occasionally resembling teeth, cacti, tadpoles, and mushrooms

 

      Throughout history, the round pearl has been considered the most valuable and popular shape. However, most of the world's most famous and valuable pearls are often not symmetrical in shape, and that is because the other grading factors are also important.

      Shape is a good category to compromise on if you need to cut down on price. Actually, baroque and circled pearls can make for very interesting jewelry pieces.

Surface

  The fewer the spots or blemishes a pearl has, the higher its value. But again flaws can also be positive features. They may serve as identifying marks that a pearl is yours and not somebody else's, and help prove that it is real and not imitation. Flaws can also lower the price of a pearl without necessarily affecting its overall beauty.

Size

  The size of a pearl is expressed in terms of its diameter, which is measured in millimeters. Size has a significant impact on price.

 

Pearl Care

     One of the few “organic gems” commonly used in jewelry, pearls are softer than gemstones, but suitable for everyday wear. Pearls love to be worn, taking their warmth from the skin and deepening their luster. Pearls should be cleaned by using a soft cloth to wipe pearls. Avoid contact with oils, soaps, and chemicals, including hairspray, perfumes, and cosmetics. Strands should be inspected regularly, and restrung as necessary.

 

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