The Wonder of Pearls
THE WONDER OF PEARLS.
Pearls are treasures from the Earth’s ponds, lakes, seas, and oceans, and they’ve always embodied the mystery, power, and life-sustaining nature of water. Pearls, both natural and cultured, occur in a wide variety of colors, nearly every hue of the spectrum, making them one of the world’s most beloved gemstones.
– Pearl culturing occurred hundreds of years ago in China, and Japanese pioneer Kokichi Mikimoto successfully produced whole cultured pearls in 1893
– Pearl is the birthstone for June
– Pearl is the gemstone for the third and thirtieth wedding anniversaries
– Cultures have coveted natural pearls as a symbol of wealth and status for thousands of years
– The oldest written mention of natural pearls was 2206 BC
– The spherical shape of some pearls led many cultures to associate this gem with the moon
DESIRE FOR PEARLS
-Members of royal families as well as wealthy citizens in Asia, Europe, and elsewhere treasured natural pearls and passed them from generation to generation.
-In ancient China, pearls were believed to guarantee protection from fire and fire-breathing dragons.
-In Europe, they symbolized modesty, chastity, and purity.
QUALITY OF PEARLS:
There are five key factors used to assess the quality of pearls:
Luster is the amount of light a pearl reflects…both from its surface glow and its inner light, a deep mirror-like reflection. The better the nacre quality of the pearl, the more superior its luster.
Subtle blemishes and tiny marks are part of a pearl’s natural texture and proof of its genuine origin. These blemishes result from sea particles that drift into the oyster and brush against the pearl as it forms. Fewer surface imperfections denote a higher quality, more valuable pearl.
Shape of a Pearl
Of the many shapes available, perfectly round pearls are the rarest and most valuable. South Sea pearls unique shapes like button, tear drop, oval and baroque are also favored.
Color of a Pearl
Pearls vary widely in color, based on the type of oyster that produces them. The rarer the shade, the more valuable the pearl. Colors range from cream, pink and grey to black, green and blue. White and pink rosé are among the most popular Akoya colors; peacock green and gold are among the rarest South Sea shades. While color choice is a matter of personal preference, always look for rich color that is evenly distributed throughout the pearl.
While size does not affect the quality of cultured pearls, it does affect the price. Large pearls are more difficult to cultivate because oysters often reject the large implanted nucleus; their rarity creates higher value. Pearls are measured in diameter increments of millimeters (mm). The classic Akoya pearl generally range from 3mm to 10mm. South Sea pearls begin at 8mm and can grow as large as 18mm.
ALWAYS A WINNING PERFORMANCE
Always a captivating accomplice to any wardrobe, pearls have been an integral piece of women’s fashion for hundreds of years. Both timeless and modern, pearls are perfect for women at any age. The always-elegant Coco Chanel believed that a woman should be draped in ropes of pearls…literally wearing many strands of varying lengths at a time…and First Lady and fashion icon Jackie Kennedy Onassis continually added pearls to her magnificent attire. Other chic ideals including Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly knew a thing or two about charm-boasting pearls.
With a few simple tips, everyone can wear this classic gem with panache and style.
Change your lengths: Feel free to layer different lengths of pearl strands; ditto for mixing freshwater pearls with cultured, colored with white, and all different shapes and sizes. There are dizzying arrays of options when it comes to necklace length in pearls:
1. The Pearl Choker – 14 to 16 inches. Classic and versatile piece.
2. The Princess Necklace – 17 to 19 inches. The popular length for pearl necklaces, as it is well suited for most clothing necklines.
3. The Matinee Necklace – 22 to 25 inches. This length looks best with high necklines and is well suited for more elegant attire.
4. The Opera Necklace – 30 to 32 inches. This is a very versatile length which presents the option to wear as a single strand with high necklaces or doubled to create a fashionable two-strand choker. It can be knotted at the neckline or above the bust to create a stylish look.
5. The Pearl Rope – 37 inches or longer. Such a luxurious length that can be both demure and sexy…try it doubled or tripled to create a stunning multi-strand choker. Pearl ropes can also be knotted and slung over the shoulder to accentuate the beauty of a backless dress.
Adapt the style for the occasion: For work: opt for understated, simple pieces to wear to the office. Wearing one strand at a time adds polish and sophistication to your attire. Pair a short strand of pearls with a business suit, or wrap a long strand of pearls around your wrist. Wear pearl stud earrings with your work attire. For formal occasions: choose more ornate pearls to create an elegant evening look. Perhaps choose colorful, large and long pieces when wearing a solid-color dress, or go for small pearls when wearing intricately embellished attire. If wearing your hair up, opt for more elaborate drop pearl earrings.
Update with pendants: This is an easy and modern approach to refresh a simple strand of pearls. You can add almost any pendant that has an open clasp to a pearl necklace, just be sure that the necklace can handle the weight of the pendant. The same idea applies to wearing more trendy pearls with casual attire…there are no rules, it’s perfectly fabulous to wear pearls with jeans! You can make an entirely new look with a vintage clasp, velvet bows or ribbon, or a favorite crystal amulet.
Remember what a lady knows best: Pearls reflect a flattering light to the complexion – just like having your own personal lighting crew following you around…always casting the most beautiful glow on you.