Pearls are renowned for their shine and smoothness, whilst eliciting a timeless elegance that makes them a popular choice for women of all ages. Throughout the centuries, pearls have been an emblem of elegance and style and still remain the preferred choice for Jewellery due to their versatility. Whether worn on pendants, necklaces, bracelets, and even earrings they are able to add an extra layer of beauty and class to your look.
Nonetheless – and unlike other gemstones such as diamonds or rubies – pearls are not a matter of geology or even chemistry but Biology. That is because pearls are a product of living creatures and are made by a mollusk, triggered when an irritant comes in contact with it inside an oyster’s shell. Whether the irritant is a parasite, grain of sand, or piece of food, the mollusk secretes nacre for protection which in turn helps form the pearl itself.
What are pearls?
Pearls are one of the oldest known gems that can be dated back to ancient times. The only classic gemstone that derives from a living animal. Pearls are more commonly round in shape with a smooth texture and lustrous appearance, but they do come in a variety of shapes and sizes from round or oval, to pear or baroque.
How are pearls formed?
The pearl gemstone is formed inside mollusks that reside in both saltwater and freshwater. Freshwater pearls can be found in rivers and lakes and are grown inside mussels. On the other hand, Saltwater pearls are formed inside oysters found in oceans. When a foreign object such as a food particle touches the surface of the mollusks, it becomes irritated. As a natural response, it will protect itself by covering up the irritation with a layer of nacre that lines the inside of the shell. Over time this repetitive process is what creates the pearl.
What types of Pearls are there?
Pearls tend to be categorized in Natural and Cultured types derived by the process they are created and whether that involves human interference or not. Natural pearls are indeed very rare to find and tend to be produced spontaneously by shell-producing oysters, or mollusks, which have lived on earth (land and water) for more than 530 million years.
Cultural pearls, on the other hand, make up the majority of today’s pearls and their growth process has been expedited by humans. Even though they are technically formed by living organisms, by cultivators creating ideal conditions, they are able to grow faster without affecting their quality. Cultural pearls tend to be classified into 4 major types, them being Freshwater pearls, Tahitian pearls, South-sea, and Akoya pearls, each of which has each its own unique characteristics.
In most cases, pearls tend to be within the 7.0mm and 9.5mm range, which are universally considered the most traditional and versatile pearl sizes to buy. As a rule of thumb, the larger the pearls get (all other attributes like Luster, Shape, and Surface Quality being equal), the more valuable they are
When it comes to the colour of your pearls, it is the nacre that is the determining factor. Although most commonly associated with the classic white shade, you can also find pearls in many other colourations such as yellow, pink, silver, black, and green.
Colours tend to be attributed to certain types such as White for Purity, Sincerity, and Peace, Gold for Wealth, Prosperity, and Freedom. whilst pink is normally associated with Love, Kindness, and Compassion. Last but not least, Blue pearls portray a sense of Tranquility, Loyalty, and Courage.
Pearl care and aftercare
When it comes to taking care of your precious pearl jewellery, it is crucial you follow the 4 industry steps, cleaning, wearing, re-stringing, and storing. Even though pearls require wearing to absorb oils from the skin, you need to always be careful not to knock them off. In addition, it is vital that you use the appropriate chemicals to clean and they are stored in a soft cloth to prevent scratches. Last but not least, strings of pearls tend to be knotted to prevent them from rubbing together and make sure that only one pearl would be lost if the strand breaks. Make sure if your string strands do break, you use an experienced Jeweller like HC Jewellers to individually re-string your knots for you.
Even though pearls tend to generally be associated with the classic, beige-white shade, in reality, there is a great variety of different colourations and ranges available. At HC Jewellers, we are pleased to be able to offer a multiplicity of cultured pearls set in necklaces, bracelets, pendants, and studs, appropriate for formal events or daily wear.
Have a look at our other blogs on our website that have more in-depth information about everything jewellery including ‘A Guide to Jewellery and Metals’ and keep an eye out for our upcoming blogs on: ‘Wedding bandwidths and profiles’ and ‘The ultimate diamond” for more tips, guides, and useful information.
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