Why Pearls?

I want every person to wear pearls somehow: on their hair with headbands or pins, ears with earrings or ear cuffs, neck through necklaces, collars, or scarves, chest through a brooch, wrist with bracelets, hands with rings, waist with a belt, ankles through an anklet and in their outfits on buttons, keychains and purses. The options are endless, as the gem or their representation has been present throughout history. It could be a whole piece with pearls or only one pearl as a final touch, you will enjoy the look of it.  The pearl, with its celestial glow and mystery, is the only gemstone formed within a living creature and always has been a symbol of wealth and sophistication.  We usually don't equate timeless with trendy, but pearls are truly a timeless trend. 

Why pearls? 

Origins.....

The birth of a pearl is a miraculous event! Pearls are grown by live oysters far below the surface of the sea, making them the only gem not needing man's hand in transformation. Gemstones must be cut and polished to bring out their beauty, but pearls need no such treatment to reveal their loveliness. They are born complete with a shimmering iridescence, luster and soft inner glow unlike any other gem on Earth. They can be made in either freshwater or saltwater environments. Wild (or natural) pearls, formed without human intervention, are very rare. Freshwater pearls can take between 1 and 6 years to form; whereas saltwater may take between 5 and 20 years. The longer a pearl stays in the shell, the more nacre that forms and the larger the pearl. Cultured pearls share the same properties as natural pearls, and most pearls today are cultured. Cultured pearls are formed in pearl farms, with the aid of humans as well as natural processes. The only difference is a person carefully implants the irritant in the oyster, rather than leaving it to chance. We then step aside and let nature create its miracle. While some colored pearls can be achieved naturally, some freshwater pearls are treated to produce a distinctive or particular color. The process of culturing pearls revolutionized the pearl industry and meant that pearl farmers could control the cultivation of large numbers of consistently high quality pearls. This allows farmers to produce millions of pearls at a time therefore reducing their market value to a level that is affordable to everyone. Consistency is another big benefit of cultured pearls. Now man and Mother Nature can create the pearl gem. 

History....

Ancient Chinese legend tells us how the moon holds the power to create pearls and Arabic legend says that pearls were formed when dewdrops filled with moonlight fell into the ocean and were swallowed by oysters, creating the precious gem. Tribal Indians, too, believed that pearls were tears of their gods. Pearls are the earliest known gem. They appear in the ancient religious texts: scriptures of Christianity, Hinduism, Islamic  and Judaism.  The oldest known pearl jewelry, a Persian Princess’ necklace from 500 BC, is displayed in the Louvre in Paris. The Romans did have a word for pearls: Margarita. Legend has it that Cleopatra drank a pearl crushed to powder in her wine to show her great wealth and the Roman general Vitellius is said to have financed his entire military campaign with the sale of a single natural pearl.
A pearl is a perfect simile because a fine pearl is a valuable treasure that needs no polishing or cutting by man. It comes to us complete and lustrous created by God through nature, as is the kingdom of heaven, which only God could create and perfect. Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a "pearl of great price". The Gates of Heaven are made of pearl, according to the King James Bible.
Some historical accounts stated, Native Americans accepted strings of beads in exchange for the island of Manhattan. A few centuries later, in 1916, renowned French jeweler Jacques Cartier acquired land there for his first American store. The price? A strand of natural pearls. This long and storied past only adds to the appeal of the incomparable pearl, cherished today as a traditional wedding gift, a birthstone, and in jewelry that reflects taste and refinement. The history of faux pearls is almost just as ancient. Some of the first were made from a mixture of powdered glass, snail slime, and egg white. Eventually bead makers began incorporating the pearlescent luster of fish scales.

Pearls thru the decades.....

There are many more references to the pearl in works of great literature, and the lustrous jewels are often seen in famous paintings as jewelry, hair decorations, and clothing adornments. Pearls are also called "The Queen of Gems" and "The Gem of Queens" for being really quite unique and are synonym of innocence and modesty.
Pearls are considered semi precious stones because of its organic nature. Pearls are the ultimate gem, coming in a rustic organic way while they represent a symbol of love, beauty, and confidence, which you can obtain with any kind of pearl.  Until fairly recently, pearls were still worn exclusively by royalty and wealthy nobility, as they were far too expensive for anyone else to afford. Freshwater cultured pearls come from freshwater mussels and appear in a wide variety of shapes and natural colors. They tend to be less expensive than saltwater pearls, making them a popular choice for younger people and jewelry designers. As freshwater pearls are solid nacre, they are also quite durable, resisting chipping, wear and degeneration. 

Pearls in modern times....

Then in the early 20th century, three Japanese men began perfecting the process of implanting mollusks and by 1921 the first round cultured pearls appeared on the market.  Decades later Jackie O. and her triple-strand pearl necklace would become fashion icons, followed by Princess Diana and Barbara Bush.

Meaning.....

Pearl means precious, it also is the birthstone for June,  and is the 30th wedding anniversary gem. Since it comes from the sea, it is associated to the moon and water. They are used to described the "gates of heaven" and Ancient Egyptians associated pearls with Isis, the goddess of healing and life.
They are the gem of gems, its humble origin, development, and end product is just divine. Even with man hand involvement, they still depend on nature to do its part. Pearls signify attractiveness, elegance and refinement. Every First Lady and Queen own a pearl necklace.
No other gem has captivated our fascination and admiration like the pearl. Diamonds may be forever, but pearls have been recognized as prized jewels for centuries longer than any cut stone. Pearls are beautiful as they are - straight out of the mollusk. Pearl has become a metaphor for something rare, fine, admirable and valuable.

Facts....

  • No two pearls are ever exactly alike.
  • Oysters change gender regularly, as some oysters ‘swap’ others will do so too in order to keep the balance of male/female even.
  • Pearls serve as an early-warning sign of pollution problems, this explains why pearl farming is performed in remote islands.
  • Harvesting a pearl does NOT kill the oyster, which makes pearl farming a ‘sustainable’ practice. The longer an oyster lives the better and bigger the pearls its produced. 
  • Whiter pearls are not necessarily better.
  • A pearl’s surface is closer to sandpaper than silk.
  • There's no such thing as a ‘round pearl’, the word comes from "pirum" means "pear," which is their most common shape.
  • Although clams and mussels can also produce pearls, they don't do so very often. Most pearls are made by oysters, and they can be made in either freshwater or saltwater environments.
  • As oysters grow, an internal organ called the mantle uses minerals from the oyster's food to produce a substance called nacre.
  • Freshwater pearls are typically the least expensive and are cultured using a small piece of mantle tissue.
  • Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea pearls are all saltwater pearls grown by implanting a round shell bead and allowing the mollusk to secrete layers of nacre around the bead. As an example, to find 47 pearls for a perfectly matched 16-inch necklace, a pearl processor must cull through more than 10,000 pearls.
  • A perfect pearl is truly a rare event; less than five percent of nucleated oysters yield pearls of such perfect shape, lustre and color as to be considered fine gem quality.
  • It can take an oyster 5 years to form a tiny 3mm pearl in the wild where as a 7mm cultured pearl can be created from a 6.5mm nucleus in just 3-5 years.
  • When it comes to purchasing pearls you can be sure that they will be of the cultured variety which means that they are real pearls made by oysters and are not artificial as many people think.
  • One interesting piece of freshwater pearl trivia: a single freshwater pearl mussel is capable of producing up to 50 pearls at a time (although current production limits each shell to 24-32 pearls).
  • The color of a pearl is determined or influenced by the mother oyster’s ‘lip’, the outer part of the shell. Another way pearls get their color is from microscopic pigments inside the conchiolin layer. Conchiolin is the organic “glue” that holds the crystalline aragonite layers together. Conchiolin cements these platelets together (think of the structure of a pearl as something like a brick wall, and the conchiolin is the cement). Factors contributing to the pearl’s color include the kind of oyster, the number and thickness of nacre layers, and potentially trace elements within the oyster’s aquatic environment.
  • Pearl manufacturers also may influence the pearl’s color to some level by presenting tissue from an additional oyster into the host oyster alongside the shell nucleus. The pearl’s color is decided by a mixture of factors: iridescence, overtone, and the base color. Also, cultured pearls are occasionally dyed. Pearls (cultured and wild) are quite soft, with a hardness of 2.5 on the Mohs scale – among the world's softest gems.
  • Cultured pearls are still actual pearls, sharing the same properties of wild pearls and growing organically inside of oysters in the same fashion. The only difference is a person carefully implants the irritant, a small piece of polished shell, in the oyster, rather than leaving it to chance. However, it's still up to nature to create the miraculous beauty of a pearl.
  • Because pearls are made primarily of calcium carbonate, they can be dissolved in vinegar.
  • Most freshwater cultured pearls sold today come from China.
  • Most saltwater cultured pearls are grown with beads.
  • Tradenames of saltwater cultured pearls are Akoya, white or golden are South Sea, and black are Tahitian.
  • Most beadless cultured pearls are mantle-grown in freshwater shells in China, and are known as freshwater cultured pearls. 

Types of Pearls

There are two basic varieties of cultured pearls: freshwater and saltwater. Freshwater pearls are grown primarily in man-made lakes and reservoirs in China. Saltwater pearls, which include Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea, are grown in bays, inlets and atolls in many places around the world.

Freshwater Cultured Pearls...The Fashion-Forward Pearl

The most affordable pearls sold today, freshwater pearls are known for baroque shapes, white and pastel body colors and softer luster than Akoya (except in the case of rare metallics). With natural pastel colors and shapes that range from perfectly round to free-form baroque, freshwater pearls offer a widest range of options. Common sizes range from 5 mm to 12 mm, but recent advances have led to the development of round and baroque pearls as large as 20 mm. If you are looking for an affordable piece or something more fashion-forward with unique combinations of colors and shapes, shop freshwater pearls. Although freshwater pearls are the most commonly produced pearls, their unique shapes and wide range of colors combined with their attractive prices and charming character have made them a favorite among jewelry designers, shoppers, and pearl connoisseurs alike. Best known for their whimsical shapes and wide variety of sizes and colors, the character of a freshwater pearl is found in its distinctive surface texture and the warmth of its luster. Their affordability makes them a popular choice when searching for your next pearl jewelry purchase. There are not two identical and they're mostly oddly shaped, which makes any piece one of a kind. Also, when you find very similar shaped ones, they are generally affordable, giving most people the opportunity to own a natural pearl piece of jewelry and getting all the benefits that comes with it. Lastly, their reproduction is still a natural product with much more workforce and accessibility.

Akoya Pearls...The Classic Pearl

For nearly 100 years, Akoya pearls, grown off the coast of Japan, have been the classic pearl of choice. Akoya pearls are truly the perfect choice and most popular if you are considering a pair of pearl earrings or an elegant strand of pearls. Cultured in the Akoya oyster and primarily found in Japan and China, they are lustrous and are generally white or cream colored with overtones of rose, silver, or cream. Although Akoya pearls may seem surprisingly similar in appearance to freshwater pearls, they are very different when the two are compared side-by-side. They are smoother and rounder than freshwater pearls. Akoya pearls range in size from about 6.0 - 8.5mm; while exceptions do exist, most Akoya pearls produced today range in sizes from 4 to 10 mm. If you are looking for a classic strand of round, white pearls, you are probably looking for a strand of Akoya pearls.

Tahitian Pearl...The Dark Exotic Pearl

Enchanting and mysterious, Tahitian pearls are unique unto themselves due to their natural dark colors: metallic silver to the color of graphite. Within this range of colors, they can have bluish, purplish, or greenish overtones. Found in the waters off of the islands of French Polynesia, the natural black color of Tahitian pearls comes from the color of the oyster's black lips. They are much larger than average oysters and are extremely sensitive to the cultivation process. This makes the large pearls they produce extremely valuable and sought after. Tahitian pearls grown in French Polynesia are the only naturally dark pearls. Although often referred to as black, Tahitian pearls come in a rainbow of exotic colors. Round Tahitian pearls are quite rare but other fun shapes like drops, baroques and ovals are highly-sought and still considered very valuable. When measured perpendicular to the drill hole, most Tahitians range in size from 8 mm to 15 mm regardless of shape. If you are looking for a naturally dark pearls that go well with almost any style, Tahitian pearls may be your best choice.

South Sea Pearl...The Rolls Royce of Pearls

South Sea pearls are the rarest of pearls and simply spectacular with a unique satiny luster, as well as an array of colors considered unusual in other types of pearls, and are typically white, silver and golden. Cultivated in the white-lipped oyster, larger than the oysters used to produce Akoyas and Freshwater pearls, the size of pearl they produce is considerably larger, reaching sizes as large as 15mm. White-lipped oysters are rare, sensitive and difficult to cultivate, making the pearls they produce more expensive and highly desirable and are grown primarily in Australia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Ranging in color from white to gold, South Sea pearls are the largest saltwater pearls grown today and because of their tremendous size, perfectly round South Sea pearls are quite rare. Other more common shapes are drops, baroques and ovals and all are considered very valuable. While South Sea pearls range in size from 8 mm to 18 mm, the most common sizes range from 10 mm to 14 mm. If you looking for the statement piece of jewelry with large pearls, South Sea may be the way to go.

Blister and Keshi "Pearls"

Blister and Keshi pearls are accidental creations of nature – beautiful ones at that! A blister pearl is a pearl that grew attached to the shell of the mollusk. Since a blister pearl needs to be cut off the shell in order to be used, pieces of the shell are often left attached and in a free-form shape. Blister pearls make intriguing pendants and earrings, especially when set in a bezeled frame.
A Keshi pearl is an irregular-shaped byproduct of a pearl cultivation, composed entirely of nacre and containing no nucleus. When an oyster (mollusk) rejects the pearl cultivation process, a beautiful and unique Keshi is born. Keshi pearls come in myriad of colors, and tend to be high luster. Because the implanted nucleus of the pearl has been expelled by the oyster, the resulting pearl is 100 percent nacre, giving it a lustrous and shimmering surface quality. Even though Keshi pearls are solid nacre, they are not considered natural pearls because they are a byproduct of the culturing process, not a natural occurrence. The word Keshi means ''poppy seed'' in Japanese, and these pearls are often referred to as "poppy seed pearls".  Keshi may form in either saltwater or freshwater pearls and they are generally small in size with widely varying shapes because there is no nucleus to guide the process.
Both blister pearls and Keshi pearls have an irregular shape and no two are alike. For this reason, we can guarantee that each piece of blister pearl and Keshi pearl jewelry will be interesting, special, and one of a kind. You'll find abstract and artisanal designs full of imagination. And the look they create is organic and whimsical. 

Imitation pearls

Imitation of pearls are man-made objects (often beads) that are designed to resemble real pearls. A variety of methods are used to create them, from starting materials that include glass, plastic, and actual mollusc shell. These do not carry all the advantages of using natural pearls but they do achieved the same emotional response.

Benefits......

Pearls were rumored to cure hundreds of ailments. Natural pearls also add health benefits. Besides been the symbol of beauty and good luck, they are gemstones that stand for purity, charm and love. Known for their calming effect, pearls can balance one's karma, strengthen relationships, and keep children safe. The pearl is also said to symbolize generosity, integrity, and loyalty of its wearer. They can increase women's beauty and facial luster besides adding glow to any plain outfit. It shows your confidence and individuality by shining the inner qualities like the pearl luster. As a symbol of purity bringing truth and loyalty to situations, therefore wearing them can develop good harmony, love, and faith between couples. Wearing pearls can reduce anxiety and the feeling of exhaustion, promoting better sleep and helping your inner peace. They bring calming influence and increases the feeling of love to those mentally weak and pessimistic. People who wear pearls are blessed the by goddess of wealth and good fortune. They also have a healing properties, as they contain a great amount of calcium as well as amino acids and minerals, which we need. It regulates and ease female-related conditions (menstrual and menopausal). They also prevent and even treat chronic sore throat and the thyroid gland. Pearl powder, when absorbed by skin cells, increase their vitality, promoting metabolism and also prompts growth of collagen, improving skin regeneration keeping skin soft and clear. 

The benefits of the pearl gemstone are quite impressive. It is a great gem that well worth owning. I guess you cannot wait to buy pearl jewelry. If you do not use or wear pearls, you can start using pieces with pearls and as you start noticing the elegance, delicacy, and uniqueness to your style of jewelry, then you might get the urge to own a faux pearl item and eventually embrace your own one of a kind, original, and natural Dama pearl creation. 

Wearing pearls....

When people first started wearing pearls centuries ago, they wore them as a statement of beauty, wealth, power and exclusiveness.  The beauty hasn’t changed, but now your pearls can be a statement of compassion, inclusiveness and global consciousness since their production helps people in remote places to have a living and a purpose. Wear natural pearls and you will feel different. People around you will see a more gracious and balanced beautiful you.
When you own a piece of jewelry that its been frequently admired, loudly or quietly, it is relevant, especially if it becomes a treasure to pass along to other generations. My pearl necklaces are the most precious pieces of jewelry I own, real, not real, natural, cultured, glass, acrylics, it does not matter. They were worn by an elegant stylish overall beautiful women, my mom and they are priceless!!!
The value of the pearls in jewelry is determined by a combination of the luster, color, size, lack of surface flaw, and symmetry that are appropriate for the type of pearl under consideration. Among those attributes, luster is the most important differentiator of pearl quality according to jewelers. Pearls are an elegant and tasteful way to express your style, and once worn you add value to them by putting all the mentioned factors together.

Caring for your pearls....

Pearls are the world’s only organic gemstone, and therefore, tend to be quite delicate. Proper care of your pearl jewelry is essential to ensure your investment will last a lifetime. Personal care products, such as perfume or hairspray, can severely damage the luster and beauty of a pearl. It is best to put your pearls on at least 30 minutes after applying any personal care products, and to take your pearls off before getting ready for bed. A good rule of thumb to remember is that pearls should be the last thing to put on and the first to take off. Wiping the pearls with a damp, soft cloth after you wear them will ensure that they remain free of harmful build-up of compounds that may damage the nacre of your pearls. Pearls are best kept in a soft-cloth pouch or a soft-lined jewelry box separated from other jewelry. If you wear your pearl necklace often, it should be strung about once a year to prevent strand breakage. The thread, which silk is the best choice, should be knotted between each pearl to prevent all the pearls in a strand from falling off should a break occur as well as preventing possible damage from the pearls rubbing against each other. Restringing the pearls is preferred over attempting to wash the thread, as cleaning may weaken or stretch the knots and some soaps may be abrasive and damage your pearls. 

 

Agnes Haddad