This is our last post on pearls for June, which is pearl’s birthstone month. First a few words about pearl care and then some pointers on what to look for when shopping for pearls.
Pearls are resilient and meant to be worn, but they are also delicate and require proper care.
Pearls are organic gemstones that are vulnerable to acid, alkaline and extremes of humidity. To preserve your pearls’ radiance, avoid letting them come into contact with cosmetics, hair spray, or perfume. Always put on your jewelry as a final touch, after applying make up and styling hair. The pearl’s luster can also be harmed by perspiration. To prevent this, before returning your pearls to the jewelry box, wipe them gently with a soft cloth.
Pearls are exceptionally cohesive and shock-resistant, but may be scratched by contact with sharp objects or other gemstones. To prevent tangles and scratches, fasten clasps and pins, then lay each item out separately in a compartmentalized jewelry box. When carrying jewelry, use a protective jewelry pouch. Leaving pearl jewelry in a safety deposit box for long periods may cause pearls to dehydrate, so avoid doing this. There is a saying that “pearls want to be worn,” and it is true!
I don’t normally use the word never but here are a couple of NEVERS for pearls.
- Never use toothbrushes, scouring pads or any type of abrasive material to clean your pearls. Avoid using anything other that water and soap (not detergent) to clean your pearls.
- Never use any type of ultrasonic cleaner.
- Never store your pearls in any type of plastic bag. Plastic can emit a chemical that will cause the surface of the pearl to deteriorate.
- Never leave your pearls around a direct source of heat such as a fireplace mantle, on top of a television set, or stove.
The Five Components of Pearl Value
Here are some tips on what to look for when shopping for pearls. The five components to look for are luster, complexion, shape, color and 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. The highest quality pearls always have the most luminous luster.
Complexion refers to the subtle blemishes and tiny marks that are part of a pearl’s natural texture and proof of its genuine origin. These blemishes are the result of 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.
When comparing shape, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. While perfectly round pearls are among the rarest and most valuable, there are now a variety of shapes to consider. Decide what shape you like best. It might be a south sea pearl, a button pearl, a tear drop shaped pearl or baroque pearls.
Pearls vary widely in color based on the type of oyster that produces them. The rarer the shade, the more valuable the pearl. Colors range from cream, pink and grey to black, green and blue. White and pink rosé are among the most popular Akoya colors; peacock green and gold are among the rarest South Sea shades. While color choice is a matter of personal preference, always look for rich color, evenly distributed throughout the pearl. Look for what you like and what looks best on you.
While size does not affect the quality of cultured pearls, it does affect the price. Large pearls are more difficult to cultivate and find and as a result, their rarity makes them more valuable. Pearls are measured in diameter increments of millimeters (mm). The classic Akoya cultured pearl generally ranges from 3mm to 10mm. South Sea cultured pearls begin at 8mm and can grow as large as 18mm.
Most importantly, shop for what you like and what looks best on you. Wear your pearls and enjoy them!
What did you think of our many pearl posts? Did you enjoy the series?