Quality and Fashion

Cultured pearls are:

  • Suited to many tastes
  • Feminine and romantic
  • Suitable for women of all ages
  • A sign of accomplishment and status
  • A fashion staple that never goes out of style
  • Significant of special occasions and achievements

 

Quality Factors of Cultured Pearls

LUSTER: High quality pearls clearly reflect objects, colors and textures near them.
SURFACE: The finest pearl is virtually free of spots, cracks and bumps on the surface.
SHAPE: The rounder, more symmetrical a pearl is, the more valuable it is. Asymmetrical pearls – called baroque pearls –can also be lustrous and appealing and usually cost less than round pearls.
COLOR: White pearls with a hint of rose overtone are considered the most valuable, followed by creams, golden and blue/gray. Natural black pearls can be very expensive.
SIZE: Cultured pearls are measured in millimeters. Generally, the larger the pearl the more valuable it is.
MATCHING: The consistency in appearance and quality of the pearls in a strand.

 

Cultured Pearl Sources

Akoya: Japan and China
White South Sea: Australia, Myanmar (Burma) and Indonesia
Black South Sea: French Polynesia (Tahiti)
Freshwater: Japan, China, United States
Mabe: Japan, Indonesia and Australia

 

Types of Cultured Pearls

SALTWATER

Pearls that are cultures in the salt water oceans and bays of the world. There are three primary locations/varieties.

AKOYA

Cultivated primarily in Japan and China using the small akoya mollusk. Most are white to cream body color and range from 2 mm to 10 mm.

SOUTH SEA

Cultivated in Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. They range in color from white to golden yellow (unusual colors, too) and range in size from 8 to 20 mm.

TAHITIAN

Cultivated around the islands of Tahiti and French Polynesia in general. They range from white to black and include colors like green and purple. They range in size from 8 to 18 mm.

FRESHWATER

 Cultivated in a freshwater mollusk; usually nucleated with mollusk tissue rather than a shell bead. May be any of a variety of shapes, including round.

BLISTER

 Pearly domes that grow attached to the mollusk's shell.  They are cultivated in both saltwater and freshwater shells. Only one side has nacre. They are cut from the shell to be used in jewelry.

MABE

 Blister pearls that have been cut from the shell, filled with epoxy and cemented to a mother-of-pearl back; AKA assembled blister pearls.

KESHI

 Tiny pearls which form naturally in the mollusk during the pearl culturing process.

¾ PEARL

 A round to semi-round pearl that, because of an irregularity, has been flattened on one side.

½ DRILLED

A pearl drilled halfway through its diameter so it can be cemented onto a post.

 

Cultured Pearl Processing and Treatment

PROCESSING

TREATMENTS

Before they are brought to market, cultured pearls usually undergo one or more of the following processes:

Cleaning: Removes any residue from the mollusk
Polishing: A buffing that enhances surface luster and is undetectable
Bleaching: A process that removes dark spots and is usually undetectable

Processes that change the natural color of the pearl

Dyeing: Changes the color of the pearl by immersing it in a natural or chemical dye; detection is in recognizing the unnatural uniformity of the color of the pearl and in dye concentrations that may be visible near the drill hole.

Irradiation: Changes the color of the pearl; is suspected if the color of the pearl is highly metallic or if the nucleus bead is very dark.

 

Care and Cleaning of Cultured Pearls

PEARLS ON SETTINGS

PEARL STRANDS

  • Remove pearl jewelry before:
    • Applying cosmetics, perfume or hair spray
    • Doing strenuous activities
    • Entering chlorinated pools
  • Clean periodically in a solution of warm water and mild, non-detergent soap. Do not leave pearls in solution for a prolonged period as it may loosen the cement that holds the pearl.
  • Use commercial cleaners that are specifically made for pearls.
  • Never put pearl-set jewelry in the ultrasonic machine or expose to steam-cleaning.
  • Knotting between pearls keeps them from abrading each other.
  • Silk string is best for absorbing and holding oil and grime and keeping them from discoloring the pearl.
  • Never immerse a strand of pearls in liquid; the string can rot and possibly discolor the pearl from the inside.
  • Clean strands with a damp, soft cloth, being careful not to tug in the string.

 

Occasions

  • Cultured Pearl Occasions
  • The Birth of a Child
  • Mother's Day
  • First Communion
  • Sweet Sixteen
  • Graduations
  • Business Promotions
  • Valentine's Day
  • Weddings

Gifts

  • Pendants
  • Necklaces of varying lengths
  • Necklaces of varying shapes
  • Necklaces of varying colors
  • Add-a-Pearl Necklaces
  • Stud Earrings
  • Drop Earrings
  • Pearl Pins
  • Mabe Pearl Earrings
  • Mabe Pearl Pendant
  • Mabe Pearl Enhancer
  • Single Pearl Rings
  • Multi-Pearl Rings
  • Single Strand Bracelets
  • Multi Strand Bracelets
  • South Sea Drops