Learn More about Pearl Jewelry
Confused by all the options for your pearl jewelry purchase? Wondering about the different kinds and shapes of pearls? Let us help you learn more about the intricacies of pearl jewelry so that you can make the right purchase, whether you’re looking for pearl necklaces, pearl earrings, pearl rings, or any other type of pearl jewelry.
Natural and Cultured Pearls
There are two different types of pearls. Natural freshwater pearls are considered more valuable because they occur in the wild and are harder to find. The value of a natural freshwater pearl is determined much in the same way as a precious gem. A jeweler will assess factors about the pearl such as its size, shape, quality of the surface, orient and luster to determine its value as a part of a pearl jewelry piece. The other type of pearl, the cultured pearl, is much more common than the freshwater pearl. This is because cultured pearls are raised in pearl farms and therefore can be harvested year round. There are many types of cultured pearls and different ways they can be made/harvested. Jewelers are able to tell the difference between a cultured pearl and a natural freshwater pearl by putting the pearl under an x-ray.
Pearls come in eight different shapes: round, semi-round, drop, button, oval, pear, circled and baroque. A perfectly round pearl is the rarest and most valuable of all pearl shapes. Button pearls are used primarily in pearl earrings because one side is flat, which gives the illusion on the ear that it is a perfect round pearl. Drop and pear pearls appear in a variety of types of pearl jewelry, including pearl earrings, pearl pendants and as centerpieces in pearl necklaces. Baroque pearls make for very interesting pearl jewelry pieces because of their unique shapes.
There are many different colors of pearls, but the colors most commonly used in pearl jewelry are white and black. Other pearl colors you might encounter are pink, blue, champagne, green and purple pearls. These unique colors can make a particularly striking statement in a piece of pearl jewelry.
Lengths and Types of Pearl Necklaces
Unlike most necklace lengths, which are identified simply by the number of inches that the necklaces measure, pearl necklaces have different length measurements. A collar pearl necklace sits on the throat and is very small around. This necklace will not hang down. Pearl Chokers sit at the base of the neck. These necklaces are also shorter in overall length. A Princess-length pearl necklace is longer and sits at the collarbone. A pearl necklace of Matinee length falls just above the breast. Next longest is the Opera length of pearl necklace, which is long enough to reach the beast bone or sternum. The longest is called a Pearl Rope, which describes any pearl necklace longer than the Opera length.
Pearl necklaces, or strands of pearls, can also be classified as uniform or graduated. In a uniform strand of pearls each pearl is the same size as the next. Conversely, there are usually three different pearl sizes in a graduated strand of pearls. The smaller pearls are generally placed in the back of the necklace; the medium-sized pearls come towards the front and the largest pearls appear in the center. The graduated style of pearl necklace became popular in America in the 1950’s. Graduated pearl strands are also often a more affordable piece of pearl jewelry than uniform strands, since they are made up partly of smaller pearls.
The Meaning of a Pearl
In eastern cultures the pearl symbolizes purity and spirituality; the pearl is thought to help wearers remain honest, wise and to act with integrity. The pearl is a part of the gemstone “calendar” of birthstones, as the gem designated for June birthdays. Pearl jewelry is also popular as an embellishment for weddings. Both brides and members of the bridal party are often seen wearing pearl jewelry. The pearl is especially fitting for weddings because of its light color and classic elegance.