As I discussed at great length in this post on the pearl jewelry trend for 2016, not only are pearls versatile and great for professional dress, they’re also the birthstone for June. If you’re a not a real pearl girl, I encourage you to read this post and the prior post, as the current trend isn’t grandma’s pearls anymore. (But if you have nana’s pearls, hang on to them…they may be valuable.) There’s truly a pearl style for everyone!
Here are some fun facts, things to consider when investing in pearls, and how to care for them:
The origin of pearls dates back to the 4th. century BC, during the reign of Alexander the Great. They were rare, valuable and treasured by the wealth and were long a symbol of power, elegance, affluence, and purity during the Middle Ages.
Because real pearls (you know, from oysters,) are so rare, cultured pearls (produced by human intervention) were introduced in the 20th century leading making the popular gem much, more affordable.
Fine pearls are extremely rare. Only 20% of the oysters that bear pearls are marketable, and only 5% of them are considered “gem quality”.
There are four types of pearls: Akoya, South Sea, Tahitian and Freshwater.
With luster being the very most important, the following factors determine the quality and value of pearls:
- Luster: the higher the more valuable
- Surface: the fewer the blemishes, the higher the value
- Shape: the rounder, the more valuable; however, pearls come in the shapes of round, drop, button, oval, semi-round, ringed, baroque, and semi-baroque.
- Color: no color is considered more superior than another. It’s purely a matter of taste. (Rose’ and silver look best on fair skin, while cream and gold-toned are more flattering to darker complexions)
- Size: measured in millimeters in diameter, with all qualities being equal, the larger the pearl, the more valuable
And lastly, here’s how to treat and take care of your pearls:
Pearls are delicate thus requiring extra care. Avoid harsh cleaners, makeup, and hairspray. And as glam as they may make you feel, definitely don’t wear pearls in the pool! These activities and chemicals will permanently damage the “nacre” of the pearl thus affecting the luster and making it dull.
Pearls need a certain amount of moisture to retain their beauty. Wearing them actually helps retain the moisture. Store pearls separately from other gemstones and metal jewelry. Never store in plastic, but do store them in a soft pouch or cloth.
Clean pearls with a soft damp cloth but never in an ultrasonic or steam cleaner. Make sure they are completely dry before you wear them.
Re-string strands of pearls when you notice looseness between pearls, fraying of the silk, or when the silk looks dirty. When you have them re-strung, make sure they are knotted between each pearl to prevent them from rubbing each other. Knotting also provides more flexibility in the strand , and they will lay nicer.
Over to you…do you wear pearls? What is your favorite type/style? Please feel free to share any care or wearing tips you may have!