BUYERS GUIDE OF PEARL JEWELRY
CuteShoppingBag.com offers Real, Natural Freshwater Pearls.
BIRTH OF A PEARL
Creating pearls is a fascinating process that requires much time and dedication. The oyster bed is a natural habitat that must be painstakingly nurtured before a pearl can even be conceived. The cultivation process begins with a core. In natural pearls, this is simply a fragment of shell, fishbone or sand that floats into the shell of pearl oyster. To protect itself from this irritant, the oyster secretes thousands of layers of nacre, forming a pearl.
Nacre is made up of crystalline calcium which the oyster secretes to smooth over the bead nuclei irritating the soft inner body of the mollusk, eventually creating a pearl.
TYPES OF PEARLS – SALTWATER vs. FRESHWATER PEARLS
Cultured pearls come in five main varieties: Akoya, Tahitian, Freshwater, South Seas, and Sea of Cortez pearls.
Freshwater pearls are farmed in natural and man-made freshwater lakes and ponds in China. Larger harvest volume accounts is part of their lower price points. Freshwater pearls are the closest in pearl composition that you can get to a natural pearl formed on its own in the wild. Freshwater pearls are durable, and if cared for properly, will retain the original color, luster and orient for decades to come. Freshwater pearls will feature a softer, more subtle glow than that of their saltwater cousins due to the way in which light reflects and refracts off the various layers of crystal. Freshwater pearl mussel still does a pretty great job of producing smooth shapes that are often round to the eye. Black Freshwater pearls are color-treated, usually dyed. Intensely iridescent, they’re usually called “Peacock”, but can also be commonly seen in colors ranging from dark denim blue to violet and copper.
- Budget is under $350 but you still want a pretty white pearl necklace – the White Freshwater pearls will hit all the right notes for a good price.
- Slight to moderate variation in pearl shape and a softer pearl glow doesn’t matter that much as long as the pearls give off the overall impression you want.
- More suited for “every day” use that can stand up to hot days, children’s sticky fingers, perfume spritzing, an office meeting and more.
Saltwater pearl types – Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea Pearls.
Prized for their brilliant lustre and rich colour, Akoya Cultured Pearls are a traditional symbol of elegance and beauty. Produced by Japan’s Akoya oysters, they are the most popular of all pearl types. Depending on the size of the mother oyster, they grow from 3-10mm. Colours range from white, cream and pink to light green, blue and silver.
- High-end, classic.
- Perfectly round pearl shapes, and a Very High to Excellent pearl luster.
- Budget is $350 and up to get the Classic White Pearl Jewelry.
- Very special keepsake strand of pearls that will be treasured and cared.
- The pearls are meant to be worn in “prestige” occasions like weddings, dinner parties, office meetings, family get-togethers, etc.
Tahitian pearls are farmed in the tropical atolls and saltwater lagoons of the islands in French Polynesia (South Pacific Ocean). Tahitian pearl`s color says it all. Unique, distinctive and saturated colors. These colors are called “overtones” and are a secondary color that lies shimmering over the main, primary bodycolor of the pearl. In the case of Tahitians, these overtones lend a colorful brilliance to their dove grey to dark charcoal grey body colors, and make them a distinctive and highly coveted gem for pearl lovers around the world. Tahitian pearls are one of only two naturally-colored black pearls in the world.
South Sea Pearls
White and Golden South Sea pearls are the largest and most luxurious of all cultured pearl types on the market today. Often called the “Queen of Pearls”, South Sea pearls feature a gorgeous palette of natural Golden and White colors that shimmer with delicate overtones. Mainly farmed along the Northern coast of Australia, Indonesia and Philippine Islands.
Size begin at 8mm and can grow as large as 20mm. These are true treasures of nature and can reach great cost of $1,5 million.
Sea of Cortez Pearls
Cultured pearls from the Sea of Cortez (aka the Gulf of California) in Guyamas, Mexico are the rarest cultured pearls in the entire world. These pearls are also the only other naturally-colored “black” cultured pearl type besides Tahitians available on the jewelry market today.
QUALITY OF PEARLS
Standards are all over the place, they vary from seller to seller, farmer to farmer etc. But in general pearl grade is described by A-AAAA. Follow grading scale so you know exactly what to look for when purchasing pearls. The more “A” the better is quality of pearl. Grade is defined after looking and defining characteristics of pearl like Luster, Surface, Shape, Color, Size.
Luster is the amount of light a pearl reflects from both its surface glow and the deep mirror-like reflection of its inner light. 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. However, because pearls are a product of nature, there will always be some form of blemish even if you can’t view them with the naked eye.
Perfectly round pearls are the rarest and most valuable.
Pearls vary widely in colour, based on the type of oyster that produces them. The rarer the shade, the more valuable the pearl. Colours range from cream, pink and grey to black, green and blue. White and pink rosé are among the most popular Akoya colours; peacock green and gold are among the rarest South Sea shades. While colour choice is a matter of personal preference, always look for rich colour that is evenly distributed throughout the pearl.
Because purple pearls are very scarce, the color depth may be different!
Black Freshwater pearls are color-treated, usually dyed. Other dyed Freshwater pearl colors include red, gold, green, purple, blue and pink.
Naturally colored pink to peach pearls are cultured in the Freshwater pearl mussel, along with various hybrid mussels bred to produce unique colors.
Dying of pearls
The treatment process of a Pearl begins once the unrefined material, eventually called a Pearl, is collected from the mollusk. Once collected the Pearl is washed to be rid of any remaining debris. Pearls are porous accepting any contact with natural and chemical substances. Pearls are placed through a bleaching process; either for a short amount of time or an even longer period of time up to 60 days; this lightens up any dark spots the Pearl may have. A process that is valuable to the enrichment of the Pearls color and vitality for lasting beauty. Once the Pearl is thoroughly rinsed they are paired and then strung.
Pearl size is one of the first things to be noticed.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 millimetres (mm).
We hope you have a better understanding of pearls now!
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