As a symbol of innocence, virtue and modesty, the pearl is a highly sough-after, natural material, something that makes pearl jewelry especially popular. Technically known as “organic gemstones”, pearls have been picked from mollusks (pearl oysters) for more than 4000 years. However, many things have changed after this natural treasure was first discovered. Among these is the way they are now gathered, the way they are used in pearl jewelry and the way they are worn. In order to get a good idea of what you have to pay attention to when you buy jewelry such as peal earrings, bracelets and necklaces, let’s think about the basic characteristics of pearls, the most common forms of pearl jewelry and finally, how to choose them.
Pearls are obviously one of the biggest natural treasures but because of the wide range of colors, sizes and origins, you can get easily confused as to what to look for in a pearl jewelry. Starting from the basics, we will see how a pearl is formed as well as its origins and types, its price and how the latter affects the value of the jewelry.
HOW A PEARL IS CREATED
If an irritant, such as a parasite or an implanted bead, enters a mollusk, the latter secretes a natural substance – the nacre - around the foreign body, because it cannot get rid of it. During its 6 or 7-year life, the mollusk surrounds the irritant with overlapping coats of nacre until a beautiful pearl is formed around it.
Most people who wear pearl jewelry do not know that the majority of pearls used to create jewelry today are not naturally grown. Generally, natural pearls are not widely available because of the perennial overfishing and the great demand in round pearls for jewelry use.
NATURAL PEARLS (OR GENUINE PEARLS)
They are accidentally formed in a mollusk. People do not interfere during their creation but they just collect them when the pearls reach a satisfactory size. Therefore, a natural pearl has a random size and color.
In many countries mollusks are cultivated for pearl production just like mussels are grown in Greek seas for consumption. Cultivators put a bead inside the mollusk so that a pearl will be created over the years with the secretion of nacre.
TYPES OF PEARLS
During your search for pearl jewelry, you will realize that pearls vary in color, size and shape according to the mollusk breed, the cultivation conditions, the gathering techniques and a number of other factors. Akoya, Cortez, Mabe, South Sea and Tahitian pearls are some of the most common varieties, each one of which has its own qualities. Akoya pearls are usually white or creamy but they can also be grey or black. Cortez pearls are available in a variety of colors, including a shiny, black pearl. Mabe pearls are highly lustrous while South Sea pearls are some of the biggest and can be found in white, creamy or gold color. Tahitian pearls are naturally grey, silver or black. The most sought-after Tahitian pearl is black with a peacock-green hue. As you can understand, the options can go beyond the classic white pearl necklace and include pearl jewelry in various colors and sizes.
THE CLASSIC PEARL NECKLACE
Undoubtedly, pearls are very popular to jewelry lovers all over the world but no other type of pearl jewelry has fired up women’s imagination so much as the traditional pearl necklace. Always giving a sense of elegance, the pearl necklace captured people’s imagination after the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was out in 1961. In this movie, the unique Audrey Hepburn defined her style with a magnificent, pearl necklace and clearly introduced this piece of jewelry in the American history of pop culture. Since then, this necklace has been the most favorite piece of pearl jewelry.
HOW TO BUY PEARL JEWELRY
Given that the overwhelming majority of modern pearl jewelry is made of cultivated pearls, a sound understanding of the way they have been appraised would be practical when you buy a set of pearl earrings, a pearl bracelet or any other form of pearl jewelry. Below is some useful advice that you can take into account during their selection:
LUSTER: It is the most important quality of a pearl and it should be your first priority. Luster is the measure of sharpness and intensity of reflections on a pearl surface. To recognize the luster of good quality, look at the clarity of the reflections on the surface of a pearl. The identical the image you see, the better the luster.
SIZE: The size of a pearl that is used for every piece of jewelry is important for both aesthetic and financial reasons. Larger pearls are usually preferred for necklaces but they may be considered less desirable for earrings because they are said to attract attention away from the wearer’s face. Moreover, larger pearls used in rings are beautiful, yet often bulky and difficult to wear. Finally, the larger the pearl, the higher the cost, so the informed buyer should balance between the size of the pearl and the expected cost.
SIMILARITY: While searching for the ideal pearl jewelry, we should see how well the pearls match together on the jewelry. With so many different varieties in color, size and finish, even the slight difference may create an unbalanced look. Look for pearls that are similar, having always in mind though that when they absolutely match, the cost will be higher.
Pearl jewelry is one of the most favorite for many people; however, because of their wide range, the final choice may seem confusing. If you become acquainted with some the pearls’ basic characteristics and, then, familiarize yourself with this piece of jewelry, you will be very well-prepared to find a beautiful necklace, a bracelet, a ring or a set of earrings that will accompany your outings for life.