The History of Pearls

Until recent times and the era of the "cultured pearl", pearls have been a hallmark of great wealth.  Pearls were the most valuable of gemstones for centuries, owned only by nobility and the wealthiest of families.  Now through cultivation, pearls can be enjoyed and owned by many.  Although no longer requiring a "King's Ransom" to own, pearls still offer a captivating beauty that no other gemstone offers.  Pearls are given to us by nature, perfect and ready to enjoy and appreciate just as they are.

For thousands of years pearls have been associated with the loftiest of ideas including; heaven, God, purity, virtue, modesty, nobility and a host of other sublime concepts.  Pearls have been thought to be instilled with many supernatural powers for healing, good luck, prosperity, love and other good fortune.

How Pearls are Formed

Natural Pearls, formed without human intervention are a result of mollusk's natural defenses as they secrete protective smooth shell material (nacre) around irritants in order to isolate them within the mollusk's own inner-shell material. 

Cultivated pearls are formed much the same way, although the "irritant" (generally a spherical shell bead) is implanted in the mollusk along with a tissue fragment.  Under cultivation, the optimal conditions for pearl formation are maintained and yet, even then, the yield of perfect pearls of superior quality is still minimal.  Therefore, while affordable, the best pearls are still rare and require a significant investment.
Freshwater Pearls

It is our view that freshwater pearls represent the best value in pearls today.  We are convinced that as the public re-evaluates and subsequently modifies its preconceptions about Chinese freshwater pearls, we will see prices rise over the coming years, but for right now, these pearls are a wonderful bargain.

Freshwater Pearls are produced not by oysters but rather by mussels.   China is the primary producer of cultured freshwater pearls.  While previously thought of as inferior, new and improved techniques of cultivation have produced freshwater pearls that easily rival their saltwater counterparts at a fraction of the cost.  Freshwater pearls are priced well below saltwater pearls because often several pearls can be produced in each mussel cultivation cycle, production costs in China are lower and various market forces are working to the consumer's benefit at this time. 

Being virtually solid nacre, freshwater pearls offer high luster and durability.  Of course as with all pearls some are better than others.  The few best of a harvest command the highest prices but very beautiful freshwater pearls are available at surprisingly affordable prices.

Saltwater Pearls

The most common cultured sea pearls are from three different oysters.  Akoya pearls produced principally in  Japan and China come from the Pinctada Fucata oyster.  They are generally white or cream colored with pink, green or blue overtones.  Akoyas are generally smaller than either Tahitian or South Sea pearls, typically ranging between 5-9mm sometimes reaching as large as 13mm.  This is the most widely available type of pearl. 

Tahitian "Black" Pearls are produced in the tropical lagoons of French Polynesia and come from the Pinctada Margaritifera oyster.  They come in shades of grey, black, silver, green and mixed colors of predominantly green with purple called "peacock".  Sizes generally range between 9mm and 18mm.

South Sea pearls come from  Australia , Indonesia and surrounding waters.  They are produced by the Pintada Maxima oyster and are known for their deep lustrous quality and large size.  South Sea pearls are mainly gold or white with pink, green or blue overtones.  These pearls typically range in size between 9mm and 20mm.
Other Types of Pearls

Abalone, conch and melo melo pearls come from are among the less commonly encountered types of pearls found commercially.  In the case of conch and melo melo pearls, these are called calcareous concretions and are non-nacreous.  Their look is altogether different than that of the more traditional nacreous pearls.

Although Akoya, Tahitian, South Sea and Freshwater pearls are the four dominant pearl varieties commercially available, there are a number of other interesting and beautiful types of pearls.

Judging Pearl Quality

Pearls are graded according to the following criteria:

Make - Although not a quality characteristic of the pearl itself, "make" refers to quality with which the jewelry is assembled including the care taken in matching the pearls used.  The pearls in the piece should complement one another so that the overall affect is pleasing.  Current fashion often calls for the use of mismatched pearls in terms of color and size.
Choosing Your Pearls

Choosing jewelry is a very personal and subjective thing.  Ultimately you should buy the pearls you will feel good wearing and that you think look good on you.

• Choose pearls that look good from a normal distance under typical social settings.  Small inconsequential blemishes are generally not noticed upon casual observation but can save you hundreds of dollars

• Place high value on luster and iridescence over shape or size as these qualities give pearls their mesmerizing beauty.

• The ability to determine the value of pearls and to understand what you are buying can take years.  That is why it is imperative that you trust the company you do business with.  We pledge to our customers that the pearl jewelry you buy from us will represent a good value and that you will be happy with the product you receive.  If, for some reason you are not - just return it.  Your happiness is our number-one goal.
Caring for your Pearls

Here are a few tips to keep your pearls looking good for a lifetime.

Interesting Facts about Pearls
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Pearls and Flowers
The History of Pearls and How Pearls are formed
Freshwater Pearls
Saltwater Pearls
Other Types of Pearls
Judging Pearl Quality
Choosing Your Pearls
Caring for Your Pearls