Archive for the 'pearls' Category


February 2, 2010 | Filed under: pearls

Pearls are timeless and have been fashionable for centuries. They come in many shapes, sizes and colours. At one time there were only natural pearls (which were harvested by divers) that were found in oyster beds in the seas. Once it was understood how a pearl develops (an irritation such as a grain of sand in the oyster causes nacre to build in layers around the irritation-a way of minimizing it), oysters were seeded manually and thus cultured pearl farming was started.

Natural pearls are rare and extremely costly and even a necklace of matched cultured pearls is worth a lot of money. But oysters require unpolluted water to survive. As a result, it has become more difficult to farm oysters and this means that cultured pearls have become progressively more expensive. But people are innovative and creative. Improvements were made to the farming of freshwater pearls These are grown in mussels but in the beginning they were not of very good shape or size but were inexpensive. Now, the farming of freshwater pearls has produced beautifully shaped pearls that are still obtainable at a reasonable price. In the 1990’s more uniform round pearls were developed. Thus you can purchase a freshwater pearl necklace of 16″ with about 6 mm. round pearls for less than $300. A cultured pearl necklace from oysters could be 5 times that much. And a natural pearl necklace would be an incredible price, perhaps in the hundreds of thousands if the pearls were matched. The best way to tell the difference and know what you have is through X-ray. To differentiate between artificial pearls and the real thing, rub the pearl against your teeth. A rough feeling indicates a real pearl and a smooth feeling on your teeth means that it is artificial. Barring that, you should know and trust your jeweller or supplier.

The value of pearls is based on their lustre, size, lack of flaws and symmetry. Of these lustre is most important. Pearls come in a number of identifiable shapes–round, semi-round, button, drop, pear, oval, baroque and circled. Circled pearls have what look like lines around the middle of the pearl.

Pearl necklaces also have names which denote their length–

Collar (sits against throat)——-10 to 13″
Choker (sits at base of neck)—-14 to 16″
Princess length——————17 to 19″
Matinee————————-20 to 24″
Opera—————————28 to 35″
Pearl Rope———————–45″ +
A necklace may also be described as uniform in which the pearls are the same shape but in a small range of sizes, e.g. 6 to 7mm. Or graduated which was popular in the 1950’s.

Pearls are often treated and their colour enhanced. Freshwater pearl harvesters will add a small quantity of metal to the water so that pearls with colour will develop. Pearls are also bleached to lighten their colour and flaws are lessened through gentle tumbling.

Pearls should be the last item that you put on when dressing as sprays, cologne, make-up etc. will affect the lustre. They should also be stored apart from other jewellery to prevent the surfaces from being scratched.

Pearls, birthstone for the month of June, symbolize purity, honesty and wisdom.

Check my previous blogs for other gemstone information:
AMETHYST- March 11, 2009
ONYX- February 19, 2009
JADE- February 10, 2009

Posted by Stephanie @ 6:03 pm | Comments


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