Buyers Guide - Pearls

A Guide to Pearls

What is a cultured pearl?

Cultured pearls result from a small irritant being implanted into living oysters (Akoya and South Sea pearls) or mussels (Freshwater pearls). The oysters or mussels secrete a substance called "nacre" which bonds to the irritant. The layers of nacre form the pearl.

Are cultured pearls and simulated pearls the same thing?

No. Cultured pearls form over time inside the oyster or mussel in their natural environment. Simulated pearls are man-made from a variety of products.

Characteristics that determine cultured pearls costs:

LUSTER - The glow of the pearl and it's brilliance to the human eye. The longer the pearl is left in the oyster, the thicker the nacre, which results in a higher luster.

SHAPE - The more symmetrical the pearl is, the better the quality.

SURFACE - The fewer natural markings on the pearl's surface, the better the quality.

SIZE - Pearls are measured in millimeters. The larger the pearl, the more valuable.


Different Pearls

Akoya Pearls:

The classic pearls of Japan. They are cultured in living oysters, in saltwater. They are the most lustrous of all the pearls found anywhere in the world.

Freshwater Pearls:

They occur in mussels for the same reasons that saltwater pearls occur in oysters. The least expensive cultured pearl product in the market today. Freshwater pearls can have a similar look to the Akoya.

Tahitian Pearls:

Produced by the Black Lipped oyster. Tahitian pearls range from 8mm to 25mm. Tahitian pearls 12mm in diameter or larger are rare. The colors can be light silver, gray, yellow bronze and green with pink overtone.


Pearl Care

Pearls are very soft and need special care. Only use jewelry cleaners labeled as safe for pearls. Never use an ultrasonic cleaner. Never steam clean pearls. They are easily damaged by chemicals like perfume, and hairspray. Heat can turn pearls brown or crack them. Restring your pearls once a year if you wear them often. After you wear pearls, wipe them off with a soft cloth. Store them in a jewelry pouch.