Classic pearl jewelry has a timeless elegance that is hard to match. Since time immemorial, pearls have been prized the world over. A string of lustrous pearls can spell magic - one that will wrap you in its spell. Learn more about Bridal pearl jewelry as well as Tahitian black pearl jewelry. Take a few tips on caring for your precious pearl jewelry so that they retain their luster and shine. Today you can pick up cultured pearl jewelry in an array of designs that can leave you spellbound.
Cultured Pearl Jewelry
A pearl is created when a foreign body such as mud, worm or any irritant enters the mollusk and it starts secreting a nacre that cocoons the intruding element. This results in a lustrous pearl. When a foreign body enters the mollusk accidentally, it results in what we refer to as 'natural pearl'. Cultured pearls on the other hand are created when humans insert foreign bodies intentionally into the mollusks to produce pearls. Kokichi Mikimoto is credited with the technique of creating cultured pearls.
Since natural pearls are rare and hard to come by, the cultured pearl industry has grown considerably as there is a huge market for cultured pearls. Natural pearls are expensive. Most of the pearl jewelry found today is made of cultured pearls. Cultured pearls are grown in either saltwater or freshwater. Pearls cultivated in saltwater tend to be more expensive than the ones cultivated in fresh water. Natural pearls are sold by carat weight, but cultured pearls are sold by their size in millimeters.
Some regions of the world are renowned for the type of pearls they produce. Some of the better known varieties include South Sea pearls and Oriental pearls and Biwa pearls that are cultivated in the Biwa Lake in Japan. The patented technique of creating cultured pearls led to the creation of an entire industry that harvests pearls.
Akoya Pearls: This type of pearl is cultivated in the Japanese Akoya oyster and accounts for a sizeable segment of the pearl market. These pearls are typically in the range of about 2mm to 9mm. A polished shell bead and mantle tissue is implanted into the oyster to create a fine cultured pearl.
Freshwater Pearls: Such pearls are cultivated in freshwater mollusks. Such pearls are harvested in large numbers and can be found at reasonable rates.
Mahe Pearls: This type of cultured pearl is created by inserting a hemispherical nucleus directly next to the inside oyster shell. The nacre is formed over this half sphere. The other half is filled with paste and mother of pearl. Mahe pearls are usually light pink or even bluish in color.
South Sea Pearls: These pearls are created by the big oysters found in the regions of Australia, Myanmar and Indonesia. This type of pearl is larger - 9mm to 16mm. South Sea pearls are white with silver or rose undertones
Buying Pearl Jewelry
The hallmark of a good pearl is its luster. It sets off a good quality pearl from the inferior ones. Pearls are the only gemstones that are created by a living organism. Each pearl is a magical and exquisite gem and it has come to be recognized as a symbol of modesty and chastity and purity. Ancient Greeks believed pearls to be the tears of joy shed by Goddess Aphrodite.
Nacre: Each pearl has a coating known as nacre. The nacre is an indication of the life of the pearl. Typically a pearl with a nacre thickness of over 0.4mm will last a lifetime. Pearls with thin nacres less than 0.2 mm will wear off over time. The nacre is composed of microscopic crystals that are aligned with unique perfection so as to reflect and refract light on different axes. This lends the unique glow to the pearl. The depth of the nacre coating depends on the type of creature involved, the water it lives in as well as the length of time that the foreign irritant is left inside the mollusk. Nacre is a composition of calcium carbonate, water and organic materials.
Color: Cultured pearls come in a wide range of colors - white, pink, cream, yellow, golden, gray, silver, blue, black and green. Pearls come in 5 main color categories - pink, white, cream, light cream and yellow. The white and pink pearls tend to be most expensive. Choosing pearl colors is a personal choice, since women choose pearls that complement their skin tone. Akoya pearls tend to be white or with subtle rose undertones. Each pearl has a main color (body color) and an overtone (additional color that may be spread over the pearl's surface). Women with a fairer coloring would look best in light colored pearls whereas those with a darker skin tone should opt for darker or golden pearls.
Shape: Round is a preferred shape for pearls. Other pearl shapes that are popularly used in jewelry are oval shaped and baroque. Saltwater pearls tend to be mostly round whereas freshwater pearls are oval.
Surface Texture: Pearls have some imperfections on the surface and those with more imperfections tend to be cheaper.
Size: Typically, pearls of sizes 6.5-7mm, 7-7.5mm, and 7.5-8mm are used for necklaces. Small pearls are ideal for petite women as larger ones can be overbearing. Pearl sizes are also chosen, keeping in mind the jewelry design.
Bridal Pearl Jewelry
Bridal pearl jewelry must be chosen keeping in mind the bride's gown and skin tone. Pearl jewelry worn at weddings is considered to bring happiness to the marriage. Often friends and family gift the bride pearl jewelry. Bridal pearl jewelry can range from strings of pearls strung on a gold chain to exquisitely carved jewelry embedded with pearls of different shapes.
Sometimes, other stones are also used to complement the pearls. Wedding pearl jewelry is a statement of purity and chastity. You can choose simple drops of pearl for the ear or go in for elaborately carved gold jewelry inlaid with pearls. Bridal pearl jewelry necklaces are available in different styles - choker, collar, princess, matinee, opera and rope. They can be later worn with casual suits or evening gowns.
Mother of Pearl Jewelry
Mother of pearl refers to the nacre or outer covering of the pearl. This is also used to fashion and craft exquisite pieces of jewelry. This substance, an organic mixture of calcium carbonate is found as a smooth shell layer. Mother of pearl jewelry has its own appeal. Jewelry made of mother of pearl can also include hair accessories, bangles and earrings. You can also find mother of pearl inlays in wooden furniture.
Tahitian Black Pearl Jewelry
Tahitian black pearl jewelry is also a favorite with many brides. The rich sheen of dark black pearl jewelry can be stunning. Tahitian black pearl jewelry is made with pearls that are usually around 9 - 12 mm. Round and baroque shapes are common in Tahitian black pearls that is used to create exquisite necklaces and bracelets and earrings. Other color overtones that can be noticed with Tahitian black pearls is silver, gold, peacock green, rainbow and eggplant.
Buying Pearl Jewelry
Pearl jewelry can be purchased from jewelry stores as well as online retail stores selling pearls. It is prudent to choose a store that provides a certificate for the pearl jewelry. Keep yourself acquainted with the pearl grading so that you do not pay more than is necessary. Pearls must be stored and handled with care.
It is advisable to wear your pearl jewelry items after applying your makeup and perfume. Remember to take them off when you apply creams and lotions. Do not wear pearl jewelry when using household cleaning solutions and harsh chemicals. Clean and put away pearl jewelry after use.
A mild solution of soap and water can be used to clean pearls if they get dirty. Pearls must be wiped clean with a soft cloth. Never store pearl jewelry along with other items that can cause scratches on them. Pearl jewelry such as necklaces must be re-strung periodically as this ensures the strength and safety of the pearls.