Pearls are classed as an organic gemstone, meaning they are made by or from a living mollusk. One of the oldest gemstones used as adornment. Pearl is the birthstone for June and used as the anniversary gemstone for the 12th and 30th years.
The name Pearl comes from Latin “perna” meaning leg, due to the Pearl mollusc being shaped like a ham or leg of mutton. Not surprisingly Pearls, due to their beautiful iridescent sheen and rounded shape have long been associated with the moon. Pearls are also associated with tears, but this does not necessarily mean sadness, the Greeks associated them with tears of happiness shed my Aphrodite on being born from the sea, and the Japanese associate them with tears of mythical creatures including mermaids and nymphs. Traditionally a symbol of purity and innocence, Pearls are perfect gifts or jewellery for weddings, and for children.
Pearls can be divided into 3 broad categories: natural Pearls; those formed without any intervention from humans, cultured Pearls; those formed by molluscs in the same way but farmed or with intervention and imitation Pearls; any manufactured product not made by molluscs to look like Pearls. Natural Pearls were the only Pearls available until the end of the 19th Century when culturing of Pearls was perfected by Mikimoto, Natural Pearls are immensely rare and valuable, in 1917 Cartier bought a whole mansion on New York’s Fifth Avenue in exchange for a Natural Pearl necklace.
Pearls occur naturally in many colours, from white to tones of pink, peach and lilac, as well as greys blacks even green, brown and purple, they can also be unnaturally coloured to any colour you can imagine.
The quality of Pearls are assessed on a number of criteria:, the shape; how spherical they are or if not the symmetry or attractiveness of the shape, the lustre; how reflective or shiny the surface is, the surface; how smooth and free from blemishes it is, the colour; what is the tone of the body of the Pearl, and of the iridescence also called the “Orient”, matching; in pairs, jewellery and strands of Pearls how well they match each other, and finally in cultured Pearls nacre thickness; this is the term for the iridescent outside of the Pearl and can be measured, the thicker the nacre the higher the quality.
Pearls come in a range of sizes ranging from seed Pearls of less than 1mm to large round Pearls of up to around 16mm, as well pear, button and freeform shapes known as baroque. You can buy low priced cultured Pearls for a few pounds, if you are looking for something pretty and wearable, and seed Pearls give an affordable option as accent stones. Fine quality cultured Pearls can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. As with all considered purchases a jeweller who has experienced qualified staff can help you choose the right Pearl for your taste and budget. Pearl needs a little more care than most gemstones they are relatively soft and can be easily damaged by heat and even weak chemicals. They should be stored carefully and kept away from heat and chemicals, you should always put your Pearls on last and take them off first.Pearls can be treated in many ways, bleaching, dying and coating can be carried out on Pearls as well as irradiation. Most treatments are permanent and stable. We will always tell you about any treatment on your Pearls that needs to be disclosed and you need to know about.