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Everything you should know about pearls

last updated at July 16, 2022 | 5 min Read

If you are thinking of buying pearls, I am sure you are charmed by their beauty. The gorgeous sheen with holographic reflection is undoubtedly stunning. Jewellery made from pearls is timeless - very classy, elegant, and sophisticated. And over the years, icons like Audrey Hepburn, Coco Chanel, and Elizabeth Taylor have made pearls a staple piece to own.

Back in the day, pearls were considered a luxury and were not allowed for the commoners. However, being the world's oldest gemstone, it was first discovered in the sarcophagus of a Persian princess. Although today pearls have become a common phenomenon, it is still considered to be a status symbol.

Now, let's look into some insights into this precious gemstone.

How are pearls made?

Pearl Cultivation for Pearl Jewellery

Pearl is an organic gemstone. Meaning they are formed naturally, unlike the other gemstones. A pearl is formed when an irritant particle gets stuck inside an oyster, mollusc, or clam. These particles begin to create layers of fluid over the particle as a defence mechanism. The layers formed to protect the oyster from the irritant then develops into a beautiful pearl. However, these days cultured pearls are obtained through cultivation, wherein a grain of sand is inserted into the oyster or clam to form the pearl. These pearls are also equally natural. The increase in demand for pearls has led to the cultivation of pearls in a considerable number.

Did You Know?

The rarity of a pearl and the perils of obtaining it made it such a prized possession that it was restricted to the ruling class, and commoners were forbidden to use them.

Type of pearls & their colour:

Akoya Pearls:

Also known as classic pearls, Akoya pearls are found along the coasts of Japan and come in shades of white, cream etc. The term "strands of pearls" was created for Akoya Pearls famous necklaces.

Akoya Pearls in Pearl Jewellery

Freshwater Pearls:

These are the budget-friendly pearls known for their shapes and softer lustre. They come in pastel colours like pink, lavender and peach. Many freshwater pearls have a baroque shape and can also be called baroque pearls.

Freshwater Pearls in Pearl Jewellery

Tahitian Pearl:

These come in hues of metallic like black, green, gold, brown etc. Because of its metallic sheen and shape, the Tahitian pearl necklace has quite a demand in the market.

Tahitian Pearls in Pearl Jewellery

South Sea Pearls:

Perfectly round in shape, these are known as the Rolls Royce of Pearls. Being one of the most valuable, they are rare and come in different shades from white to light gold.

South Sea Pearls in Pearl Jewellery

Some interesting facts about Pearls

Now that you know how pearls are formed and their types let's look into some interesting facts about this stunning gemstone.

  • The colour, texture and glow of a pearl depend on the quality of the nacre secreted by the parent (oyster)!

  • It is rare for a pearl to be formed by a natural process; only 1 out of 10,000 oysters can have one.

  • Freshwater and cultured pearls are cultivated; the difference is their lustre. It differs due to the animal (oyster, molluscs) and quality of nacre produced.

  • Only 1% of the natural pearls are used in jewellery.

  • Natural pearls are one of the most unexpected rarest jewels in the world.

Did you Know?

Kokichi Mikimoto was the first person to invent cultivated pearls in 1893, thus bringing down the cost of pearls and making them available to the masses.

How are the pearls priced?

Pearl grading and pricing depends on the following four factors –

  • The bigger, the better: Unlike most gemstones, pearls size is measured in grains, i.e. 4 grains = 1 carat.

  • If it's smooth, it's probably a fake: Pearls have a gritty surface. To check, you can slowly brush the pearl against your teeth and confirm.

  • Comes in all shapes and sizes: If you think pearls are round, they are not always! Pearls come in different shapes, i.e. round, semi-round, pear, drop, button, oval, etc.

  • The inner glow comes from within: Pearls secrete a natural nacre when a particle or irritant enters an oyster. This is a defence mechanism that carries on for years and forms a pearl. The shine on a pearl is the glow of the nacre. The older the pearl, the more layers.

Popular pearl jewellery to shop:

Pearl Rings

Big bold rings make quite a statement, especially if it has a pearl on the top! Pearl rings are also popular for astrological beliefs, but you can also wear them and make a statement if you don’t believe in astrology. Flaunt it at a party or a wedding, especially during the nighttime.

Pearl Rings in Pearl Jewellery

Pearl Earrings

Pearl earrings, especially studs, are one such classic that every woman must own. But if you are not a fan of the studs, that's ok! You can go for pearl jhumkis, chandbalis, or even simple dangle earrings. A style tip, pair it with your plain silk saree or a gorgeous gown; you will surely have heads turning.

Pearl Earrings in Pearl Jewellery

Pearl Necklaces

How can I miss this! Pearl necklaces are such a classic and sophisticated piece of jewellery I think every woman should own them. Gorgeous pearls strung together sitting on your collar bones can make any outfit glamorous. One interesting fact about this piece - as you increase or decrease the length of a pearl necklace, each length has a different name! The names start from minimum to maximum length – Collar, Choker, Princess, Matinee, Opera and Rope or Lariat.

Pearls Necklace in Pearl Jewellery

How to tell if the pearls you brought are real?

If you are not a jewellery expert, it might get difficult to tell if the pearls you brought are real or not. But that shouldn't stop you from getting the best deals in the market, right? And here's some advice on how to determine it:

  • No two pearls are identical. There's always a difference in colour, shape, size, or even shine!

  • Pearls are not perfectly shaped, which means the perfectly round ones are probably fake.

  • Real pearls are cold to touch, irrespective of the weather.

  • It's believed if you shake pearls that are strung together, it makes a soothing sound.

How to care for pearls?

Like any other precious stone, pearls, too, need special care. And a fun fact, although pearl is a gemstone, every gemstone needs to be cared for differently depending on its properties. Here's how you can care of pearls:

  • Wiping it with a soft cloth or a tissue after every wear is recommended.

  • Keep an eye on it, as the friction between the pearls can cause scratches and might lose its lustre.

  • Don't store them with any sharp objects.

  • Make sure to re-string your pearl necklace from time to time to avoid breakage.

  • Don't dunk it in water, as it can get damaged.

Now that I've shared everything you need to know about pearls, I hope you are all set to buy and style your favourite outfit with them. I hope you found this article helpful. Let me know which part of the info was most interesting in the comments.


Nikita Keskar

Obsessed with Fashion and Biryani, you can find her binge-watching movies and shows in her free time.

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