Pearl’s are pretty, but how do I wear them?

Pearls, unfortunately, have a reputation for being stodgy and old-fashioned. When I think of pearls, I automatically reflect back to my grandmother’s fashion sense. Not a day went by that she did not have her pearls on. With her hair in place, her lacey apron on and lipstick painstakingly applied, she was ready to tackle each day. As a child, I admired the precious gems that adorned her neck. Little did I realize that someday I would own those pearls. So, what does one do with such a treasure whether inherited or purchased? The most important advice I can give to you does not put the pearls away! They are beautiful and are meant to be worn daily. A personal client of mine, PlumbersOfPompano.com bought his wife an amazing set of Tahitian pearls for their Anniversary and she looked absolutely marvelous in them.

Pearls 101

Know your pearls as they come in different colors and sizes. Some are more valuable than others.

Natural Pearls

These are the most coveted of all pearls, and over the centuries the supply dwindled.

Cultured Pearls

Man devised a way to intervene with Mother Nature and began to farm oysters. This help to produce a more brilliant and perfected pearl. Although cultivated pearls are not quite as valuable as a natural pearl, they can be expensive. Farms producing cultured pearls are either located in saltwater or freshwater environments. Freshwater pearls are produced by mussels, not oysters and are usually farmed in ponds, lakes or tanks.

Imitation Pearls

Affordable to all, imitation pearls can be just as attractive as the real deal, however hold very little to no value.

 

Choosing Your Pearls

As with any other fashion accessory, personal choice is the basis in purchasing your pearls.

Helpful Hints in your choice of pearls

  • Educate yourself on the different types, colors, and shapes of pearls. In doing so, you can make an informed decision on your choice of pearl.
  • If you are purchasing pearls as an investment piece, ensure that you are buying from a retailer that specializes in pearls.
  • Decide on size and shape of pearls.
  • When choosing a color of pearls, think about how you will incorporate this color into your wardrobe.
  • Carefully examine the pearls for luster and surface condition. Are they brilliant with shimmer? Do they have pits or blemishes?
  • If purchasing a necklace or bracelet, examine the consistency of the shape and color of pearls in the strand. A strand of quality pearls should have a cohesive overall look.
  • There is a fail-safe way to check to see if the pearl is fake or genuine. Using the “Tooth Test,” you can rub the pearl against your tooth. If the pearl is real, it will feel gritty, not smooth.

What style of pearl necklace is best?

Princess

  • This is the most common choice of pearl necklace
  • Formal as well as Casual attire
  • Measures: 17-19”
  • Type of Neckline: high and low

Collar (3+-stranded)

  • Typically, 3 or more stands are worn while drawing attention to the throat area
  • Formal or Business attire
  • Measures: 12-13”
  • Type of Neckline: low, dipping, boat neck, V-neck, off-the-shoulder

Choker

  • Not typically worn by mature women
  • Formal and Casual attire
  • Measures: 14-16”
  • Type of Neckline: adaptable to any neckline apart from turtleneck

Rope

  • A single strand or multi-strands worn with varying wardrobe styles. This is a perfect statement piece to go with pantsuits.
  • Formal, Casual and Business attire
  • Measures: 37-180”
  • Type of Neckline: adaptable to any neckline

Opera

  • Typically worn as a single strand or doubled with 2-strand style to form a choker
  • Formal attire
  • Measures: 26-36”
  • Type of neckline: adaptable to any neckline

Pearl Fashion Etiquette

While there is nothing “official” that dictates when and where you wear pearls, there are some things to take into consideration.

At the Office

Simple yet elegant is the ideal style. Select your pearl style to be more understated than something that is massively overstated. As the old saying goes, “less is more.”

Casual Everyday Elegant

Again, a simple style choice of pearls to go with your jeans is a perfect pairing.

Formal Events

Pearls come alive at formal events and adorn those in evening gowns. Creative ways to wear all styles of pearls can be evident with simple pearls all the way to ornate pearls. You can never go wrong with the timeless elegance of pearls!

 

Color pairing with Pearls

Pearls look best with darker apparel. This not only gives the pearls more brilliance but gives you a fresher look. Avoid wearing pearls with pale colors or flesh tone colors. It reflects a matronly look while giving the pearls a washed out appearance. Neon colors and pearls do not go together well either.

Creative Ways to Wear Pearls

  • Accentuating your hair with pearls on bobby pins, hair clips and headbands gives your hair a romantic vibe.
  • Grab a clutch with decorative pearls for your daily errands. This gives you a fun and fresh look.
  • Bedazzle a pair of boring jeans with pearls.
  • If going to a formal event, give your makeup a pop. Using cosmetic adhesive, glue a small seed pearl to each outer corner of your eyelid.

 

Remember…if you inherit your grandma’s pearls, don’t put them away, but give them life and wear them daily. Your grandma would love you for that!

Mermaid Teardrops

How are Pearls Formed?

 

It All Starts with the Oyster

Most of us do not associate the beautiful pearl with something we consider a delicacy to eat! The very innards that we devour, house and slowly churn a mere piece of grit into the precious gem that only nature can produce.

An oyster is comprised of two shell halves which protect the soft tissue and organs. It is within these shells and this soft tissue that the miracle of a pearl takes place. A piece of foreign matter (grit) infiltrates the shell of the oyster, and immediately it will begin to produce a protective secretion called nacre. Over time the layers of nacre released forms an encasement around the grit, layer after layer. Nacre is responsible for the luster that pearls are famous for.

What kind of pearls do the oysters produce?

There are two categories of pearls produced in this world; natural and cultured.

Natural pearls are cultivated by Mother Nature herself without human intervention.  A natural pearl in its rarity fetches high dollar and is prized by many collectors. Although the origin is unknown, it is said that a diver found one hunting the sea floor for food. The beauty of the pearl sparked the hunt for natural pearls, and with that, the advent of pearl diving as a profession was born. Centuries ago, pearl diving began in China. Before long it was introduced to Japan and consisted mainly of women known as “Ama.” The Ama would dive at depths of 100 feet without the aid of air tanks or any specialized equipment. Not only was free-diving fatal to many, but the Ama also endured the lack of protection against predatory sea life. The tradition of pearl diving was quite often passed from mother to daughter.   Man was now looking at easier methods of obtaining the coveted gem, but in a way that was safer.

Cultured pearls were introduced as man devised a way to add the “grit” (foreign matter) into the shell of the oyster. The oyster naturally secreted the nacre producing the pearl. This process was perfected over the decades resulting in a more brilliant pearl. Man devised a way to farm oysters in controlled areas in the sea. By doing so, pearl divers were no longer  required to dive dangerous depths, and often protective barriers were in place against sharks and other dangerous sea life. Cultured pearls can also be farmed in freshwater (ponds, lakes, tanks) thus producing Freshwater Pearls. These pearls, however, are produced by freshwater mussels. A cultured pearl can take up to three years to reach maturity and be ready for harvest.

Did you know?…

  • Oysters are born male; however, they transform into a female at three years old.
  • Oysters are not killed when the pearl is removed but are returned to the sea.
  • The earliest known pearls were found to be dated back to 520 B.C. in the tomb of a Persian princess.
  • Pearls is the birthstone for June.
  • Pearls are given as gifts on the 1st, 3rd, 12th and 30th
Mother Nature produced the pearl to replace the tears of the mermaid.

See pictures below

Email us for inquiries on pearl purchases. Thank you and be sure to read our older post

Rarity and Value of Pearls

Rarity and Value of Pearls

 

How do we know the value of pearls?

 

Grading a Pearl

 

When placing a value on gems, there are standard grading systems in place that a gemologist or appraiser refers to. However, pearls stand alone in that they do not have an official grading system. Value is dependent upon several factors; luster, surface condition, shape, color, and size. There are two groups of pearls that undergo grading based on these factors.

  • Natural Pearls – rare, hard to find and are produced without any help from humans.
  • Cultured – man introduces the foreign material into the oyster for it to create a pearl using farming methods.

 

Factors Used in Grading a Pearl

 

Luster

When one looks at the pearl, what is the first thing that you notice? Pearls are infamous for its silky, iridescent color. This luminosity is what’s known as “luster.” Luster is what gives the pearl the beautiful shimmery appearance. Pearls have varying degrees of brilliance with  some being bright and some being rather dull or matte in appearance. Luster can be compared to paint. When you choose paint, you have choices of finish; gloss, semi-gloss, matte, eggshell. A gloss is shiny, bright and stands out just as the luster would on a high graded pearl. Eggshell, however, is dull and flat lacking vibrancy. A pearl that is at the low spectrum of grading would be like the eggshell finish of paint.

Luster is the predominant factor in grading a pearl. Classification of luster and the guidelines in ranking a pearl’s luster are:

 

  • “Excellent” AAAA – when the pearl’s reflection of light is bright and distinctive
  • “Very Good” AAA – when the pearl’s reflection of light is bright and somewhat distinctive
  • “Good” AA – when the pearl’s reflection of light is bright, but the vibrancy appears dull
  • “Fair” A – when the pearl’s reflection of light is poor, and it lacks any shimmer
  • “Poor” – when the pearl lacks any appearance of vibrancy is nothing more than dull

Surface

The surface condition of a pearl is vital when grading it. Conditions such as blemishes, pits or ring-like formations on the surface cause the value of the pearl to be low. A pearl with a smooth rounded surface is graded higher.

Shape

Pearls are not all entirely rounded; however, the rounded pearl is more valuable and is generally graded high.

Color

Not all pearls are white. There are variations in color and intensity. Those that are darker in color are considered rare and fall within the top grade.

Size

Pearls are not all dainty as we envision and can vary in size. Some are as small as seeds and can be as large as 75 lbs.! Of course, the bigger they are, the more value they bring and demand top grade.

 

The cost of Pearls

Natural pearls

Although extremely rare, they can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars

 

Cultured pearls

  • Akoya – $300 to $10,000
  • South Sea – $1000 to $100,000
  • Tahitian – $500 to $25,000
  • Freshwater – $50 – $2,000

 

What are some rare pearls?

 

The golden pearl is the rarest pearl grown in the world. Very rare to find – only 0.01% of oysters produce a gold pearl! The golden-lipped oyster produces this pearl in the Philippines. Its color is pale sunny yellow to honey amber.  Value of a small pair of golden pearl earrings easily costs $8,000.

 

Conch pearls are also rare and are created in a queen conch sea snail. These pearls are small and range in color; peach, pastel pink, dark pink. The dark pink is the most coveted of conch pearls. Only 1 in 10,000 queen conch sea snails produce a conch pearl and 1 in 100 are of gem quality. The efforts of many to try creating a cultured conch pearl has proven unsuccessful. The queen conch does not do well with the culturing process.

 

The black-lipped oyster produces the magnificent Tahitian Black Pearl. These oysters are found just off the French Polynesian coast. These pearls come in a variety of colors such as black, dark green, and peacock.

 

Melo Melo Pearls can be found in the Melo Melo sea snail located in Southeast Asia. Its shape is spherical and is hard to find. Its color ranges from hues of orange to pale yellow. This pearl tends to fade with exposure to the sun.

 

What is the world’s most valuable and expensive pearl?

 

Discovered by a Philippino fisherman in the sea off the coast of Palawan Island. The pearl brings a jaw-dropping value of $100 million! He found this pearl hiding inside of a giant clam. Little did he realize what he had much less the value of the gem. Taking it home, he hid it under his bed. It measured 26” long and 12” wide and came in at a whopping 75 lbs.

 

Another pearl that follows suit to the big one is the “Pearl of Allah.” Valued at $35 million and weighing 15 lbs., this pearl was also found off the Palawan in the Philippines. It is now on exhibit in New York’s Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum.

 

This concludes our blog about pearls. If you’d like to discuss options to view and purchase our rare pearls. Email us

The gem that has stood the test of time!

When we gaze at the beautiful pearl, one can’t help but wonder how this precious gem evolved into such a treasured accessory in many jewelry collections.

 

What is a Pearl?

When a foreign material is introduced into an oyster, the oyster begins to produce layers of a substance known as nacre around the foreign material This is a defense mechanism as the oyster tries to prevent the foreign material from irritating its delicate tissues. The multiple layers of nacre form calcium carbonate that builds a smooth coating around the foreign material and with time, this coating produces a beautiful pearl. The lustrous shimmer of a pearl is what sets it aside from all other gems.

How far back can pearls be traced?

It is unknown as to the origin of pearls; however, one can surmise that someone may have discovered the pearl when searching for food on the bottom of the seafloor. Pearls date back to Ancient Greeks. They viewed pearls as symbols of love and held true to the myth that Aphrodite and Venus emerged from oyster shells.

  • Ancient history denoted that specific pieces of jewelry had a purpose. For example, a necklace was worn for protection to protect one’s soul from departing the body.
  • Ancient Egypt adorned their buildings and clothing with mother of pearl. Mother of pearl is the inner layer of the oyster shell and was also fashioned (along with pearls) to create beautiful jewelry. Back in that time, when one wore pearls, it was considered a rare luxury and depicted wealth and status.
  • Hindus, Hebrews, Christian and Islamic religions have embraced the pearl as a symbol of purity over the decades.
  • The South Seas used pearls as a means of currency.

What presence did pearls have in each era?

Middle Ages

Medieval Europe attached great symbolism to pearls. To many, pearls reflected wealth, nobility and royalty. Pearls commanded respect. Royalty’s use of pearls was not limited to mere pieces of jewelry but were statement pieces within the network of gems in crowns, scepters, clothing, accessories and even in medicinal and beauty products. It was not unusual for the house of the noble to serve a glass of wine with crushed up pearl.

It wasn’t until the 16th and 17th Centuries that the beloved and most rare of pearls (the natural pearl) was discovered by Western explorers. Natural pearls were rampantly depleted due to high demand causing imitation pearls to be fashioned from mother of pearl. The natural pearl was in a downfall as far as the ability to attain it.

1900’s

Art Nouveau – The Art Nouveau movement in jewelry fashion came to life. These pieces were styled to compliment the pale color palette of Queen Alexandra. Varying semi-precious, translucent gemstones, natural stones, and enamel brought life to pearls in a way that reflected sophistication and style.

Edwardian – This is perhaps a very elegant time for the pearl as it adorned beautiful dresses and fashion accessories. One refers to this period as romantic and feminine. Fashion accessories used the pearl as a decorative element; jewelry, chokers, hair pins/combs, hatpins. The cultured pearl was also introduced during this time and would transform commercial production making them inexpensive and accessible to everyone. This was the next best thing to the natural pearl.

1920’s – Costume jewelry became popular while becoming less expensive to produce and purchase. Imitation pearls were being introduced to consumers as the cheaper alternative. Materials such as glass and Lucite were used to make imitation pearls.  The finer side of pearls seems to have taken a turn for a less desirable level of quality.

1930’s – Costume jewelry continued to filter down to the masses as the Depression loomed. Hollywood glamour now set the tone for fashion leaning more towards diamonds and “glitz.” Pearls were no longer the choice of the fashion-forward thinking such as movie stars and the wealthy. The downfall of the natural pearl was demised as a result of the cultured pearl. Natural pearls are now considered the rarest of rare and fine jewelry.

1940’s – Wartime caused women to be thrifty with their money thus turning to costume jewelry. Forms of Bakelite, plastic and imitation jewelry appeared with a vengeance. Towards the end of the wartime, jewelry designers opted for fun and whimsy as the tone of fashion accessories. Jewelry became playful, less sophisticated, no longer symbolic of money, status or desire.

1950’s – Pearls come back into fashion as women were portrayed as innocent, elegant and feminine. Symbolic of wealth, purity and class, pearls adorned the necks and ears of many women. Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn were just a few movie stars that pearls were always associated with. The iconic 3-stranded pearl necklace of Jackie Kennedy was infamous with her classy style.

1960’s – Bright colored beads and plastic invaded the scene as women rebelled against the things that made any representation of feminism. Pearls were now considered old and stale.

1970’s – Pearls take back seat yet again as the subcultures try to identify with punk fashion.

1980’s to Present – Upper-class feminism slowly wakes up as pearls reappear. The mere suggestion of tradition is vivid as British royalty reclaims pearls as the choice of jewelry. Through Princess Diana, pearls are once again seen as aspiring and conservative.

Pearls are For Men Too???

Although it is rare to find a man wearing a pearl necklace in this day and age, you will find that men choose pearls as cufflinks and tie tacs. Pearl regalia was undoubtedly the fashion choice of historic men such as Rana of Dholphur and the Maharajah of Patiala.  They did not merely choose to wear a few pearls, but lavishly adorned outfits that were covered in pearls. In those days, pearls were a sign of wealth. The bigger, the better to show off their nobility! Crowns of many kings past and present have pearls inlaid amongst the other precious gems as a sign of wealth and nobility.

 

What About Today?

Although pearls are not the choice of jewelry for the majority, it remains a symbol of purity. Weddings throughout the ages and still today do not disappoint us with the expectant pearls that brides of all ages choose to wear on their special day. We know the pearl is still beautiful, and a miracle of nature.

 

 

 

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Different types of pearls

The graceful simplicity of pearls has adorned many throughout the ages and still reigns strongly. Today, it is not uncommon to find one wearing pearls casually as well as formally. This lustrous milky jewel of the sea is loved by all ages.

 

There are various types of pearls with varying color, size and value.

Natural Pearl

Although very rare, these beauties have been over-harvested and are quite difficult to find. Most are found within the Persian Gulf area. Natural pearls are the most expensive pearl in the world. The odds of finding a natural pearl is 1 in every 10,000.

Cultured Pearl

Cultured pearls are pearls produced by farming oysters. By using human intervention, a foreign body is introduced into the oyster causing it to secret what’s known as nacre. This secretion is excreted in layers (over time) around the foreign body within the oyster. This process produces the cultured pearl.

There are 4 different types of Cultured Pearl:

Akoya

Many refer to Akoya pearls as the “classic” pearl. The perfectly rounded shape and lustrous brilliant color makes this pearl the most common choice among consumers. Akoya pearls are mainly farmed and produced in the regions of Japan and China.

Colors: white, rose, silver, gray, blue, gold, black

Shapes: rounded

Price: $300 to $10,000

South Sea

The South Sea pearl is the most valuable all cultured pearls and are farmed in the coastal regions of Australia, Indonesia and Philippines. This pearl grows to be the largest of all pearls and some have been known to grow as large as a china plate! Because of the size, this pearl is quite rare and valuable.

Colors: white, cream, silver

Shapes: rounded

Price: $1,000 to $100,000

Tahitian

The Tahitian pearl is farmed along the French Polynesian volcanic regions. These pearls are come in a range of beautiful colors and provide the consumer a more exotic choice of pearl.

Colors: blue, dark green, light green, brown, peacock luster, black, gray, aborigine

Shapes: rounded, ringed, baroque, oval, ringed, button, drop

Price: $500 to $25,000

Freshwater

You will find Freshwater pearls in lakes, rivers and ponds in various regions of China and U.S. These pearls are affordably priced and provides consumers with a comparable set of pearls to that of the Akoya pearl.

Colors: white, lavender, pink, white, cream, darker metallics

Price: $50 to $2,000