Learn a bit about why Pearls are so special.
How Pearls Form
Pearls have been treasured for more than 4,000 years as a symbol of purity, modesty and virtue. While most gemstones are formed by the heat and pressure of the Earth’s molten core, pearls are created in calm waters by a living gem factory – oysters.
Natural and Cultured Pearls
Both natural and cultured pearls grow inside live oysters. The difference between the two is that natural pearls are formed by chance. A bit of sand gets trapped inside the oyster and is gradually coated in layers of a beautiful, pearlescent substance called nacre which builds up to create a lustrous pearl. In every 10,000 oysters, you might be lucky enough to find a single natural pearl. Because of this scarcity, most pearls today are cultured.
Cultured pearls are real, genuine pearls that are formed inside a living oyster with human intervention. Cultured pearls are made with man’s assistance by implanting a shell bead into the oyster, which acts as an irritant just as the bit of sand did in the natural pearl. From there the process is the same.
Types of Cultured Pearls
These round cultured pearls are most familiar to many customers. They are formed in the saltwaters of Japan and China, have a lustrous white to cream color and are most commonly 6mm to 8mm in diameter.
These pearls are cultured in the streams, rivers, and lakes of China and the US. While these pearls are usually not perfectly round they’re produced in a wide range of sizes, shapes and unique colors. Besides being grown in bright, lustrous white colors, China produces pink, peach, lavender, cinnamon and even butter colored freshwater pearls.
South Sea and Tahitian
These saltwater pearls, cultured in Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Tahiti, are known for their natural color range from white to black, with popular shades in between like gold, silver and green. These pearls grow in larger oysters that produce pearls ranging from 10mm to 15mm in diameter.
Pearls produce an intense, deep shine called luster. Luster is the most important of all the value factors when considering the beauty of a pearl. A pearl with fine luster will look like there is a light bulb inside.
The general color of a pearl is also called the body color. Typical pearl colors are white, cream, yellow, pink, silver, or black.
A pearl can also have a hint of a secondary color, or overtone, which is seen when light reflects off the pearl surface. For example, a pearl strand may appear white, but when examined more closely, a pink overtone may become apparent.
Pearls come in many shapes, as seen above. Pearl matching is more important when considering a strand of pearls. Minor variations between pearls within a strand should be expected as no two pearls are identical. When considering pearl matching, uniformity of pearl factors such as size, shape, color, and luster should be taken into account.
Are your pearls real?
Cultured and natural pearls can be distinguished from imitation ones by a very simple test. Take the pearl and rub it (gently!) against the edge of a tooth.
Cultured and natural pearls will feel slightly rough, like fine sandpaper, because of the texture of natural nacre. Imitations will feel as smooth as glass because the surface is molded or painted on a smooth bead.
Pearls are porous and therefore caring for your pearls is very important. Without the right care, the natural beauty and value of your pearls may be diminished.
Here are our Pearl Rules:
- Pearls should be the last thing you put on. Apply makeup and hairspray before you put on your pearls. Try not to wear perfume on the skin where your pearls will lay.
- Never wear pearls in the pool or hot tub. Chlorine can destroy the natural luster of your pearls.
- Never wear your pearls in the ocean or shower. Pearl strands are strung on silk string. When the string gets wet it will stretch from the weight of the pearls and become more susceptible to breaking.
- Pearl rings or earrings are glued onto a post. Although water will not harm the pearl, it will eventually dissolve the glue giving you a greater chance of losing your pearls.
- Never expose pearls to acids such as vinegar or cleaning agents containing ammonia or chlorine, bleaching agents or inks. Never use jewelry cleaner on pearls.
- To clean pearls wipe them down with a warm, damp soft cloth to remove any residual body oil, makeup or perfume.
Some photos from: www.rawpearls.com.au