How To Buy Pearls
Pearls are one of the most elegant and timeless accessories that you can add to your wardrobe. They can enhance any outfit with their natural beauty and lustre. However, buying pearls can be a daunting task if you don’t know what to look for. There are many types, shapes, sizes, colours and qualities of pearls available in the market, and each one has its own price range and value. How do you choose the best pearls for your budget and style? Here are some tips to help you make an informed decision
Know the difference between natural, cultured and imitation pearls. Natural pearls are formed when a foreign object, such as a grain of sand, enters an oyster’s shell and triggers a defensive reaction that coats the object with layers of nacre, a substance secreted by the oyster. Natural pearls are very rare and expensive, and most of them are found in antique jewellery or museums.
Cultured pearls are created by inserting a nucleus, usually a bead or a piece of tissue, into an oyster’s shell and allowing it to grow layers of nacre around it. Cultured pearls are more common and affordable than natural pearls, and they come in various types depending on the oyster species and the cultivation method. Imitation pearls are man-made products that mimic the appearance of natural or cultured pearls, but they have no nacre and are usually made of plastic, glass or resin.
Imitation pearls are the cheapest and lowest quality option, and they can easily lose their shine and colour over time.
Learn about the different types of cultured pearls. Four main types of cultured pearls exist Akoya, Tahitian, South Sea and Freshwater. Akoya pearls are produced by a species of saltwater oysters that live in Japan and China.
They are known for their round shape, white colour and high lustre. Akoya pearls are usually small to medium, ranging from 2mm to 10mm in diameter. Tahitian pearls are produced by a species of black-lipped oysters that live in French Polynesia.
They are known for their dark colour, ranging from grey to black, with overtones of green, blue or purple. Tahitian pearls are usually large, ranging from 8mm to 18mm in diameter. South Sea pearls are produced by a species of white-lipped oysters that live in Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
They are known for their creamy colour, ranging from white to gold, with overtones of pink or silver. South Sea pearls are usually the largest, ranging from 9mm to 20mm in diameter.
Freshwater pearls are produced by a species of freshwater mussels that live in lakes and rivers worldwide. They are known for their variety of shapes, colours and sizes, from round to baroque, from white to pink to purple, and from 2mm to 15mm in diameter.
Consider the quality factors of pearls. Five main factors determine the quality and value of pearls: size, shape, colour, lustre and surface. Size is measured by the diameter of the pearl in millimetres.
Generally speaking, larger pearls are more valuable than smaller ones, because they require more time and resources to produce. However, size is also a matter of personal preference and style.
The shape is evaluated by how symmetrical and regular the pearl is. The most desirable shape is round, followed by near-round, oval, button and drop. Baroque pearls are irregularly shaped and can have unique forms and textures. Colour is influenced by the type of oyster, the environment and the cultivation process.
The colour of a pearl consists of three components: body colour, overtone and orientation. Body colour is the dominant hue of the pearl, such as white, cream or black. Overtone is a secondary hue that appears on top of the body colour, such as pink or green. Orient is a rainbow-like effect that appears on some pearls when light reflects off their nacre layers.
Lustre is the measure of how shiny and reflective a pearl is. The higher the lustre, the more mirror-like the pearl’s surface is. Lustre is affected by the thickness and quality of the nacre layers that form the pearl.
The surface is the assessment of how smooth and flawless a pearl’s surface is. The fewer blemishes such