A timeless fashion item with the rich and famous, pearls are fast becoming a prized piece of must have jewellery.
Where do pearls come from and what should you consider when purchasing a piece of jewellery showcasing the exquisite pearl?
Pearls have been farmed for many centuries and are the only jewels created by a living animal. Natural occurring pearls command the highest prices as they are rare and hard to find. A natural pearl is found 1 in every 10,000 wild oysters. That’s a lot of oysters!
There are three types of cultured pearls; Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea. These account for approximately 5% of the total weight of pearl production. The oceanic oysters typically grow only one pearl at a time. White pearls from Broome, Western Australia and Golden Pearls from the Philippines are among the most valuable South Sea Pearls in the world. When looking to purchase pearls, researching this will determine the price of the piece you are considering.
Freshwater pearls on the other hand account for 95% of total global production. They are less valuable than their salt water cousins. A single fresh water mussel will typically produce between 30-50 pearls at a time.
Even with today’s modern cultivation practices, South Sea Pearls are still incredibly rare. The weight of Diamond production each year is about 10 times greater than the weight of the annual Australian South Sea Pearl harvest.
Recently a two-thousand-year-old pearl was found in an Australian Aboriginal archaeological dig in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The stories that pearl could tell!
One of the most famous pearls in the world is the La Peregrina which is Spanish for “the incomparable”. This 500-year-old pearl is pear shaped and the size of a Pidgeon’s egg. Previous owners included the King of Spain, Napoleon Bonaparte and Elizabeth Taylor.
Elizabeth Taylor wearing the “La Peregrina”. Come and see our version in store.
When looking to buy pearls, consider the 4 following virtues of pearls in your decision making:
1. Lustre. The most important value factor when considering the beauty of the pearl. It is caused by light travelling down through the translucent layers of nacre and reflecting from deep within the pearl back to the eye, creating that lustrous, iridescent visual effect that pearls are renowned for.
2. Shape. As pearls are natural organic gems they can occur in a variety of shapes. The round pearls typically seen are not the only shape a pearl can form. Perfectly round pearls are in fact quite rare.
3. Colour. A pearl can have three main colours; Body Colour, Overtone & Orient-iridescent. Body colour refers to the dominate overall body of the pearl. Overtone is one or more translucent colours that appear over the pearls body colour, while orient-iridescent is the rainbow colour that shimmers on or just below a pearls surface.
4. Size. The average pearl sold is between 6.5mm – 11mm although pearls measuring up to 20mm have been found.
Whether buying pearls for yourself or as a gift, follow the above recommendations to make informed decisions in your purchase. Watch the catwalks and red-carpet events around the world and you will see pearls adorn the rich and famous. Jewellery designers have ensured that the pearl has become a fashion statement that is both timeless and elegant. So, consider carefully your choice of jewels and maybe consider the pearl?