Jewellery Catalogue co.uk

PEARLS & PEARL JEWELLERY

PEARLS are an organic substance classed alongside precious gems.
When pearls first arrived in Europe from the Middle East, they were more expensive than diamonds.
Colour and lustre are important for assessing the value of a pearl.

Pearls are formed when a grain of sand or irritant is present within the mollusc.
In cultured pearls this irritant is introduced manually, it is then surrounded by layers of nacre until a pearl is formed.
The thicker the nacre, the more lustrous the pearl becomes.

There is a wide colour range including white, black, grey, pink, and yellow.

Natural pearls are relatively rare, for environmental reasons and because cultured pearls are so common.
Most natural pearls come from the oyster but conch and fresh water mussels also produce natural pearls. The oriental pearls have a different lustre and sheen from freshwater pearls, colour and lustre are important qualities in pearls.The more regular the shape of the pearl the more valuable it is.Blister pearls are formed on the internal surface of the shell and are semi circular.Pearls are soft and should be treated with care they are discoloured by perfume and sometimes by the acidity of the wearers skin.
In the late Georgian period seed pearls were very fashionable.Freshwater pearls are found in large mussels in many European rivers.

 

 

The Romans prized pearls from Scottish rivers. They can still be found in the Tay, Dee, Tweed etc.
The traditional source of pearls is from oysters in the Persian Gulf and The Gulf of Manaar in Sri Lanka, this is why since Mediaeval times they have been referred to as Oriental pearls.
In the South Pacific and off the coast of Australia is found a large oyster up to 12" across. This produces large pearls along with the conch shell which produces a fine pink pearl and is found off the Gulf of Mexico.
Mr Mikimoto first patented his cultured pearls in 1915, cultured blister pearls are known as "Mabe" pearls, this means half in Japanese.

Artificial pearls were first made in the 17th century but you can tell an oriental or cultured pearl by gripping lightly between the teeth and rubbing the surface along the edge of a tooth. The artificial pearl feels smooth but the real pearl feels gritty.

Pearl jewellery should be worn with care, particularly antique pearl set rings which were not intended to endure the rigours of modern living, but were worn by ladies of leisure who did nothing more exerting than a little tapestry work or needlepoint.

Pearls for sale

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