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Everything You Need to Know About Pearls

Many little girls have been transformed into princesses as they try on their grandmother’s strand of pearls. Pearls have a long and interesting history to be sure! The classic, elegant look is timeless. From ancient Egypt to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and down to today pearls continue to mesmerize us. As the world’s oldest gem, its status as a valuable and beautiful gemstone has never wavered!

Care for Pearls

Because pearls are not an extremely hard gem, care must be taken while wearing them to avoid scratches. A pearl has a hardness of 2.5 – 4.5; the hardest gem is a diamond with 10. However, don’t let this fact make you nervous about wearing your pearls proudly. If you care for your pearls well, you can pass them down to future generations. As with all jewelry items, put your pearls last (after perfume, hairspray, and makeup). Each time you wear your pearls, wipe them down with a soft cloth. You can use a damp soft cloth when needed. Store your pearls flat in a soft cloth bag. Let us examine your pearls yearly to ensure that the clasp is working properly, and the strand has not weakened, etc. For more information on maintaining and caring for your jewelry, please read our post

Maintenance and Care of Fine Jewelry

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The Making of Pearls

Pearls can be found in both saltwater and freshwater; there are two types of pearls: natural and cultured. As the name suggests, natural pearls occur naturally with no human intervention. When a grain of sand, a piece of shell, or some other irritant enters certain types of mollusks, the iridescent, beautiful lining of the mollusk goes to work. This lining is made from nacre — commonly called mother of pearl. The mollusk secretes layer upon layer of nacre until the irritant no longer affects the mollusk. After several years, a pearl is formed! Natural pearls are one of the world’s most rare gems. Cultured pearls are formed the same way except for an irritant, often crushed shells have been carefully placed inside the mollusk. Cultured pearls can be much larger than natural pearls. Both types of pearls can be very stunning and valuable depending on several quality factors.  

Myth and Lore About Pearls

Pearls were treasured long before written history even existed. The “Abu Dhabi Pearl” is the oldest pearl yet discovered; this pink pearl is estimated to be 8,000 years old and displayed at the Louvre Museum. Interesting myths and wonderful stories have been shared regarding this gem throughout history. For example, the Japanese believed pearls were the tears from mermaids, while the Persians believed they were formed when a rainbow encountered the earth. Roman General Julias Caesar passed a law that only the ruling class could wear pearls. Some civilizations thought they were protection and could bring good luck. Today pearls often call to mind such noble qualities as purity, loyalty, wisdom, and serenity. Maybe you’ve gained treasured “pearls of wisdom” in your life. Few would disagree that pearls are a miraculous and romantic water gem.

Gemstone Properties

Color:  Any and every color; also multicolored

Hardness:  2.5 – 4.5

Crystal System:  Amorphous

Refractive Index:  1.52 – 1.69

SG:  2.6 – 2.8

Transparency:  Opaque

Double Refraction:  .156

Luster:  Pearly

Cleavage:  None

Mineral Class:  Calcium carbonate and conchiolin (organic) combined with water

Quality Information

AAA: Round shape; high luster; >90% clean surface; over 0.5 mm nacre; very good matching

AA:  Mostly round shape; good luster; >75% clean surface; 0.35 mm – 0.5 mm; good matching

A:  Near round shape; fair luster; <75% clean surface; 0.25 – 0.35 nacre; fair matching

Pro Pearl Tips:

  • Never place your pearls in an ultrasonic cleaner or use jewelry store solutions to clean them because this can dull the surface by reducing the nacre and cause pitting. Instead, use a soft cloth.
  • Pearls are created in water; to maintain their moisture, occasionally wipe them with a damp soft cloth. Keep pearls out of extreme heat and direct sunlight to avoid overdrying. 
  • Wear them often. Reports show that when pearls are worn often maintain their luster and age much more slowly! 

At Bling Advisor, we will help you find the exact pearls you are looking for. We pride ourselves on providing the best quality pearls to our customers. Let us bring your dream piece of jewelry to life!

Nervous because you do not have jewelry design experience, don’t be.  We have access to all of the industry’s best suppliers, and so will you. Send us your design today!

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