Today I’m sharing some tips when shopping for pearl jewellery.
Hi everyone, I thought I would write a different style of post today as I was recently browsing for pearl jewellery to buy, and it reminded me that it can be quite confusing knowing what type of pearl is what and all the different names and places to get them from. So I wanted to put together a short guide for shopping pearl jewellery. I am not a jewellery expert by any means but have worked briefly in the industry many years ago where I studied the basics as well as a life long love of learning about jewellery!
Tips When Shopping For Pearl Jewellery
Pearls are one of the oldest gems in history. They are the only gems that are naturally grown by a living organism making fully natural pearls rare and extremely high value. In 1893, the cultured pearl was first created in Japan by Kokichi Mikimoto. The Mikimoto luxury brand of pearl jewellery is still around today producing some of the most beautiful designer pearl jewellery in the world. Cultured pearl jewellery in modern times has definitely become more accessible and affordable.
Pearls are the birthstone for the month of June and the gem of 30th wedding anniversary’s too so they make a wonderful gift for these occasions but also a beautiful piece of jewellery for any occasion.
It’s useful to know the basics when shopping for pearl jewellery so please see below for a general guide.
How pearls are formed?
Putting it simply, pearls are formed when an irritant gets into an oyster or mussel. It can be a piece of sand. As to protect itself, the oyster releases a substance called nacre which coats the irritant layer by layer and over time creates a pearl. This process can take months or years to become a pearl!
Different Colours Of Pearl
Pearls come in many colours the most popular being white, also cream, gold, pink, green, grey, purple and black. All of these colours can occur naturally but many of the lower priced pearls in these colours are in fact dyed so it’s useful to find out when purchasing.
Different Types Of Pearl
Natural pearl – Made naturally without any human interaction. Very rare and sought after. As I mentioned above, a natural pearl is so rare that a good sized natural pearl from the ocean with a good colour, round shape, lustre and smooth surface can be priceless.
South Sea pearls – One of the rarest and most expensive cultured pearls. They come in beautiful shades of gold and white and more rarely black. They have a soft beautiful lustre and are generally round and quite large in size. South Sea pearls generally originate from Burma, the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia.
Tahitian pearls – Are naturally grey or black in colour. They are one of the most beautiful types of pearls in my opinion. They generally have green or purple overtones which make them lustrous and shimmery. They are natural in colour due to the fact that they are made by a black lipped oyster. Although they are called Tahitian pearls they are from French Polynesia and not Tahiti! As they are more rare and natural you can usually find Tahitian pearls in higher end jewellery designs.
Akoya pearls – Made in Japan in saltwater from Akoya pearl oysters. They are rarer cultured pearls than freshwater pearls (see below) they are usually really round, and have a beautiful lustre and can naturally come in shades of white, cream, pink and lavender.
Freshwater pearl – One of the most affordable and popular pearls today. Freshwater pearls are mainly cultured in China from mussels and can come in various levels of quality, so could be used in fashion jewellery to more expensive jewellery. Although freshwater pearls can naturally come in white, cream, pink and lavender shades, many of the coloured freshwater pearls are dyed, especially the darker coloured ones. You can also find many different shapes of freshwater pearl that are getting more popular for a modern look like the baroque shape, button shape and oval.
Simulated pearl – A glass or plastic bead with a coating made to look like a pearl. These are non organic and man-made to look like pearls and can be usually found in costume jewellery.
When looking at buying pearls here are some things to look for:
The lustre – This is how the pearl shines and catches the light. The higher the quality of pearl the more lustre it will have.
The shape – Although there are many different shapes of pearl the perfect round shape is the most prized and highest in value.
The size – Like any gem the bigger the pearl providing it’s of top quality it will be more valuable.
The quality and smoothness of the surface of the pearl – As a pearl is natural there can be surface blemishes and irregularities that will affect the value of the pearl. So unless you are buying baroque pearls, look for a smooth pearl.
I hope you found this guide useful and let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.