Jackie Kennedy once said, “Pearls are always appropriate”, and I couldn’t agree more. Whether you’re going to a fancy event or heading out in your jeans, pearls fill the bill. Since pearls are June’s birthstone, guess what we’re talking about? Umm….pearls!
“I feel undressed if I don’t have my pearls on. My pearls are my security blanket.”
– Lady Sarah Churchill
Pearls come in so many shapes, sizes and colors. One of my favorites to work with, particularly on pendants, is the mabe pearl, which is a cultured blister pearl that is grown on the inside of the shell instead of in the body of the mollusk, making it flattened with the blister in the middle, almost like a fried egg. Sometimes the mabe will be cut to a specific shape, like the picture on the left below.
Natural pearls are extremely rare (and costly), simply because most of the naturally-occurring pearls have been harvested already. As a result, the pearls you commonly find are cultured, whether they are round, oval, pear-shaped, stick, or even misshapen. The misshapen ones are called baroque pearls.
“I favor pearls on screen and in my private life.”
– Grace Kelly
Saltwater pearls can come from China, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Tahiti.
Pearls from China and Japan are typically white or cream colored and range from tiny (seed pearls) to 10 millimeters (mm). Australian, Indonesian and Filipino pearls can also include a golden color and will be the larger sized (up to 20mm) pearls you will see. Black pearls (as well as gray, blue, green, or purple) are from Tahiti.
Any colored pearls not listed above are likely dyed. This process is done either using cultured pearls or plastic beads of the desired size and shape. Then they are dipped into colored pearl dust (pearls that have been ground and dye added) to give the pearl their color and shimmer. The greater the shimmer, the more pearl matter, and therefore, better quality.
“All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.”
– Federico Fellini
Freshwater pearls are grown predominantly in China and can be in many various shapes, sizes, and pastel colors.
Pearls are quite soft and scratch easily. Be sure to clean them with a soft, damp cloth (no soap or bleach or ultrasonic cleaner). Store them in a soft cloth or pouch, never in plastic.
Many of the pearls I’ve shown here are either works in progress or waiting to be put into the perfect piece. I love doing custom design work, and would be happy to help you match your perfect pearl with the perfect, one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry.
So channel your inner Jackie Kennedy and grab your pearls…you’ll always be appropriate!
Until next time,