Today Ive been looking at my pearls. I love the soft colour of these and the way they flatter our skin so nicely. Is there any pearl jewellery in your jewellery box? Do you wonder what kind they are? There are quite a few different types of pearls used in jewellery and its useful to know which you have so that you can care for them properly.
Heres a bit more about the different types:
Pearls grown inside oysters:
Pearls grown inside oysters have a much nicer look that imitation pearls. The surface is also a little rougher, like a very fine sandpaper. You cant see this roughness or feel it with your fingers. The way we feel this roughness is to rub a pearl against a tooth. Glass and plastic feel very smooth but with water grown pearls you can detect this roughness. Practice on several different ones and you will soon be able to tell for yourself.
- Cultured pearls Cultured pearls are grown inside oysters with a little help from man, from the outside they look like natural pearls . A small bead is introduced into the oysters which then form a pearl around them. The oysters are cultivated in warm waters mainly around Japan and China. The most famous and expensive cultured pearls are made by Mikimoto who was a founder of pearl cultivation. It is very difficult to tell a cultured pearl from a natural one from the outside as they both have the same wonderful pearlescent lustre. The easy way to tell them apart is to cut one in half, unfortunately you ruin your pearl at the same time. AntiquesAvenue offers vintage pearl necklaces from throughout the 1900s.
Unless you are absolutely positive that your pearls are 19th century it is most likely that any pearl jewellery you have contains cultured pearls rather than real.
- Fresh water pearls Pearls which grow in muscles which live in rivers and are cultured and farmed in China these days. . These have a flatter colour than sea pearls and are not as round they are usually a little elongated. Freshwater pearls often have more blemishes but can still be very pretty.
- Natural pearls Now very rare and expensive, natural pearls grow inside oysters with no interference from man . The natural pearl is the oysters way of dealing with something irritating which gets inside its shell, it forms a smooth coat over the irritant and gradually as the coat deepens it becomes a pearl.
- Blister pearls or Mabe pearls These are pearls which form on the inside of an oyster shell . They are irregular in shape and are cut away from the oyster shell so flat along the reverse side. Mabe pearls form in interesting shapes and colours, they can have lots of lustre and good examples are quite expensive. They are great in pendants and rings but do not normally make necklaces.
- Baroque pearls The name given to pearls which are irregular in shape
- Drop Pearls A pearl which is tear or pear shaped, they are often used as the finial in a pendant .
Man made pearls
Both glass and plastic pearls have a much smoother coating than pearls which are grown inside oysters.
- Plastic pearls : Imitation pearls made with plastic beads and with a pearl-like coating. These are light weight and the coating flakes off easily. The are the least valuable pearls although they can be pretty if you just want something very cheap and cheerful . AntiquesAvenue does not sell plastic pearls
- Glass pearls: Glass pearls are much weightier than plastic pearls, they have often been made with great care and have a thicker coating of pearl-like material. Vintage glass pearl necklaces can have very decorative clasps and are quite pretty. AntiquesAvenue does offer vintage glass pearl necklaces and always makes it clear that they are glass.
I hope your enjoyed this look at pearl jewellery. What sort is your favourite?