The sparkling beauty of a strand of pearls has held the attention of brides for millennia. The ancient Greeks believed that wearing pearls would promote marital bliss and prevent newlywed women from crying. In modern times, cultured pearls have graced such 20th century brides as Queen Elizabeth II, the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor.
Nowadays, many pearls are cultured, but what is a cultured pearl? Cultured pearls are pearls that are nudged to life when a worker surgically implants a tiny bead into the oyster (that's the shellfish in which pearls grow). The host oyster returned to the water and, if all goes well, the oyster deposits layer upon layer of a substance called nacre, around the bead. Over time, these nacre layers form a pearl large enough to harvest.
Of course, some oysters continue to produce pearls without man’s help, as they naturally form nacre around a natural irritant that gets inside their shells. These are, however, rare and culturing produces far more pearls than nature could alone.
Here are a few key pointers:
Lustre – This is the most important characteristic of cultured pearls. Look for a mirror-like reflection on the surface of the pearls and avoid cultured pearls that appear dull and chalky.
Surface – Ideally, the surface of a cultured pearl should be relatively clear of blemishes, pockmarks and pits. However, due to the natural growth environment (inside an oyster), finding a blemish-free pearl is very rare. Overall, the fewer the blemishes, the greater the value of the pearl.
Colour – Pearl colour is a personal preference, often based on geographical location or skin tones. In the U.S.A., white pearls with a slightly pink overtone tend to be the most popular, although pearls with a golden tone are gaining popularity.
Size – Like colour, pearl size is another personal preference. For some, delicate pearls ranging in size from 3 – 5mm are preferable; for others, pearls 6mm and larger are preferred. Whilst pearl value is not entirely linked to price, it is usual that larger pearls have a higher value.
Shape – Often, roundness in cultured pearls equals perfection, but modern tastes vary substantially and you can explore baroque (irregularly-shaped) cultured pearls. Baroque pearls often flash with "orient," a display of iridescent colours that moves across a pearl's surface. Jewellery Connection stocks an extensive range of both cultured pearl and shell pearl jewellery, including rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
Please contact us to set up an appointment to view our range of pearl jewellery.