“Pearls are always appropriate” - Jacky Kennedy, “I favour pearls on screen and in my private life” -Grace Kelly and “A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls” – Coco Chanel… The most influential influencers all time agree: pearls are the best. As gemstone pearl is the birthstone for June: let’s talk pearls!
Every gemstone is formed by a natural process. Pearls are unique for forming underwater, in stead of underground compared to other gemstones. We distinguish three kinds of pearls: fresh water, salt water and imitation – the latter just a glass ball filled with a glue and fish scales mixture. Ew.
Salt water pearls
These pearls grow in, you’ll never guess, salt water. The process starts when an irritant, a grain of sand or a parasite, finds its way into a mollusc’s shell. The animal protects itself by coating the irritant in a layer of nacre. During two to five years, the layer builds up until it is a small nacre ball: a pearl! You can only re-use salt water oysters two or three times. The Japanese name for salt water pearl is Akoya, meaning ‘my child’.
Fresh water pearls
Fresh water pearls, on the other hand, grow in fresh water. They are best known for their whimsical shape, wide variety of sizes and colours and the warmth of their lustre. As they offer a wider diversity of shapes, colours and sizes than other pearls, freshwater pearls are often used in high-end jewellert design. The nacre of high-quality freshwater pearls does not typically have the metallic, glossy finish found in salt water pearls, and they are evaluated on separate quality scales. Fresh water pearls are way more ‘productive’: one single fresh water pearl can produce up to fifty pearls at a time.
Up until the year 1893, all Pearls were wild or natural and therefore, incredibly rare. In this year they however also discovered how to induce molluscs to start producing the gemstone pearls. This new variety, farmed pearls, increased the availability and started the creation of more affordable jewellery.
A pearls' value depends on a combination of its size, colour, lack of surface flaws, symmetry and lustre: the gentle yet irresistible sheen when a pearl catches the light. The multiple layers of nacre all interacting with the light in a slightly different manner create this. This is also the reason that large pearls are more valuable: more layers of nacre, the more they willl shine!
Pearls make most women very happy, even though pearls represent tears. Therefore, traditionally, pearl jewellery is considered the most appropriate for funerals.
How to treat your precious pearls
Keep your pearl rope in a moist cloth and never use perfume on your pearls. To give your pearl jewellery a natural moisturizer, rub it against your nostril.
Would you like more tips on how to keep jewellery clean? Visit our blog.