All the glitters is not gold. Discover a different kind of shine with diamonds, pearls and gemstones.
Pearls are the epitome of elegance and sophistication. As bridal jewellery, they are classy, feminine and versatile, matching easily with most bridal and evening gowns.
Types of pearls
The Black Tahitian derives its name from the Black Lipped oyster found in the waters of French Polynesia. In spite of its name, the pearls are rarely just black. They can be silver, peacock, gray, yellow bronze or green with a multitude of iridescent hues ranging from black rose to green gold. These pearls can be very large because the Black Lipped oysters are quite sizeable.
Cultivated in Australia, Myanmar, Indonesia and the islands of The South Pacific, these pearls tend to be the largest and rarest of all pearls. They are taken from white-lipped oysters, which are the largest of pearl oysters. Common colors are white, silver and gold.
Akoya pearls are cultivated from a species of oysters of the same name, the most widespread pearl oyster species. Almost all pearls cultivated in Japan come from Akoya pearl oysters. The pearls are usually white or cream with yellow, pink or blue hues, and have incredible lustre. They are not very big in size though as the mother oysters are usually palm-sized.
These are actually taken from freshwater mussels, not oysters, but the formation process is the same. The Japanese were the first to cultivate freshwater pearls in Lake Biwa. The all-nacre pearls produced colors unseen in the saltwater variety and had immense lustre and luminescence.
Pearls are classified by origin and graded by size, shape, nacre, thickness, color, lustre, surface clarity and matching. Certain factors are weighted to determine the final grade. Pearls are compared withing the same type rather than against another type.
Color Typical colors are white, beige, yellow, pink, silver or black but they can also have hints of another color. Pearls can also be artificially colored; colors are artificially infused by a treatment known as dying or by subjecting the pearls to irradiation.
The choice of color is really a matter of personal preference. Pick a color that complements your hair color and complexion. Pinkish color suit a pale complexion while cream or gold toned pearls look better on darker complexions.
Lustre This refers to the shine or glow of the pearl. Larger pearls will have more nacre ( the crystalline substance coating the pearl ) and therefore appear more lustrous. This is perhaps the most important factor in evaluating the quality of the pearl.
Surface When pearls are created, spots and bubbles can appear as the nacre forms. These natural blemishes will affect the quality of the pearl – the fewer the natural markings and the smoother the surface, the more expensive the pearl. Very few pearls are blemish free, so these can be overlooked but several flaws like cracks, overgrowths on the skin and deep holes should be avoided.
Shape Common shapes include round, semi-round, off-round, oval, drop and baroque. The more spherical and symmetrical the pearl, the more valuable it is but some irregular shapes can also be attractive to certain buyers.
Size Generally, the larger the pearl, the more expensive it is but size shouldn’t be considered at the exclusion of all the other factors. As with diamonds, quality should be given preference to quantity even when selecting pearls. Compromise on the color and size if need to be but never the quality.
Matching The more uniform a group of pearls – in color, lustre, graduation and shape, the more expensive it will be as it means a lot of time was spent in selecting this combination. Bear in mind a lot of factors that determine the quality of a pearl happen without human influence and hence trying to find pieces that match is no easy feat!
Caring for pearls
Since pearls are organic gemstone, they are particularly soft and delicate. They are also easily get scratched, cracked and damaged. In addition, they are also sensitive to chemicals like perfume, lotions, hairsprays, cleaning detergents and so on.
The best way to care for pearls is to wear them frequently because the body’s natural oils keep them lustrous but reomve them before applying perfume and other cosmetic products. After wearing, wipe them with a soft, damp, lint-free cloth to remove traces of perspiration, dirt and chemicals to prevent build-up that may dull the lustre of the pearl. Every six months, get a professional jeweller to check that the string and setting are still secure, and still secure and get your pearls restrung every once a year.
Because of their delicacy, pearls should be stored separately, away from hard jewellery items to prevent scratches or other damage. If possible, store them wrapped in soft cloth or in a soft-lined container, pouch or jewellery box.
If you're on honeymoon in Japan, get yourself Mikimoto Pearls!