What is Pearl Luster?
Pearls are formed as the mollusk (oyster) secretes layers of a protective, pearly substance called nacre (pronounced NAY-ker) around an irritant. This effect is created when light reflects off the many layers of tiny calcium carbonate crystals that compose the pearl. The luster of a pearl depends on the quality of the nacre, its transparency, smoothness, overall thickness as well as the thickness of each of the microscopic layers of nacre. The most important quality of a pearl is the thickness of its nacre. It gives color, luster, and appearance. A thinly coated pearl won't last many years.
How Many Shapes do Pearls have?
Throughout history, round has generally been considered the most valuable shape for a pearl. Perhaps this was because pearls were considered a symbol of the moon. Nevertheless, the most famous and valuable pearls are often not round. That's because factors such as size and luster are also important. A lustrous pearl has more than just a shiny, reflective surface. Pearls should glow from within. Listed below are only a fraction of the actual shapes of pearls available.
How do you Care for your Pearls?
When cared for properly, pearls can last a lifetime and are perfect to hand down to another generation. The best way to care for pearls is to wear them often as the body’s natural oils keep pearls lustrous. However, it's important to keep them away from household chemicals including perfume, makeup and hairspray. Chemicals found in these products can dull the luster of your pearls. Pearls are the last item to put on when getting dressed and the first thing to come off when you arrive back home. Be sure to always wipe them with a soft cloth and store them separate from other jewelry to avoid scratching their soft and tender surfaces. If your in doubt and you want to deep clean your pearls you can use a little warm water and a very small amount of dawn dish soap. Never let your pearls soak, just a quick swish, rinse, and wipe clean. Re-stringing of pearls is necessary on average every 10 – 15 years. Pearls worn on a daily basis will need to be re-strung earlier.
Sawyers has a professional pearl and bead re-stringer on staff, Theresa or as many of us call her just simply "T". You can always contact her with any questions or concerns you may have. She is fully trained and has re-strung 1000's of pearl strands for over 25 years at Sawyers. Average re-string cost starts at only 4850 for single strands. Please bring in your pearls and let Theresa evaluate them to give you a final cost. We can also drill out your pearls.
Not sure if your pearls are real? We get this all the time and Theresa is your girl to see. She is trained in pearls and can tell you the type, shape, size, lustre, and the most likely origin of your pearls.
Akoya Pearls – Known as the traditional pearl, Akoya Pearls are grown in salt water in Japan and China. Each pearl is grown inside of a small mollusk, using a round mother-of-pearl bead as a nucleus to ensure a round pearl and are almost always white in color. They are small to medium pearls, ranging from 4MM to 10MM in size and each mollusk will only grow one or two pearls in its lifetime. While top Akoya Pearls are extremely expensive and have fine luster, we often find that the middle and lower quality of pearls can be dull or chalky due to an insufficient coating of nacre, which is usually less than 10% natural pearl growth.
South Sea and Tahitian Pearls – Using a similar mother-of-pearl bead nucleation, these larger Cultured Pearls are grown one pearl per mollusk in giant oysters in South Sea countries such as Australia, Indonesia and of course, Tahiti. These larger mollusks allow for some of the largest pearl sizes spanning 9MM-20MM with a much higher nacre thickness than Akoya at about 15-20%. This category of pearls are the hardest (and therefore most expensive) to grow in high quality as large pearls have a higher mortality rate and more surface area which can become blemished. The South Sea Pearls are found in various shades of white as well as gold colors and the Tahitian pearls offer a range of natural blacks and gray. Both categories offer a range of shapes from round, baroque and drop pearls.
Freshwater Pearls – This remarkable variety of pearls offers the widest ranges of natural colors, shapes and sizes, spanning 4MM to 18MM. With over 90%, they have the highest nacre content of any nucleated Cultured Pearl and can grow up to 40 pearls at a time in one mollusk using a newer process for cultivating pearls called tissue nucleation. The ability to grow multiple pearls per mollusk is a major factor in making Freshwater Pearls one of the best values in pearl jewelry.
What you should know about Pearls
Natural pearls are so rare to find in nature that most pearls sold today are cultured. To create a cultured pearl, a tiny bead is implanted into the oyster and gradually over time the oyster coats the bead in many layers of natural minerals and proteins. These layers are referred to as nacre (Nay-Ker.) It is the nacre that gives pearls their beautiful luster and color.
When deciding what color pearls to buy, your primary concern should be what looks best on you. But you will also want to know how the color affects their price. Keep in mind that their is no standardized system of communicating or grading color in the pearl industry. And there is no general agreement in the trade as to how overtones affect price.
Typical pearl colors are white, cream, yellow, pink, silver, or black. A pearl can also have a hint of secondary color, which is seen when light reflects off the pearl surface. For example, a pearl strand may appear white, but when examined more closely, a pink or purple irridescent overtone may become apparent.
What Pearl is right for You?
Sawyer Jewelers always offers a variety of Freshwater, South Sea, and Tahitian cultured pearls. In addition, we offer Akoya cultured pearls. Our pearl jewelry is available in a variety of different styles including studs, fashion earrings, strands, necklaces, pendants and bracelets. In addition, we offer our pearls in varying price ranges so that you can find the perfect pearl for you’re your style and your budget. See our complete information on types of pearls and photos of how they are manufactured at the bottom of the page.