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From our Computer-Aided Design software, to traditional hand-carved wax, the creativity and passion that goes into designing jewelry is just as exciting as wearing it when it’s complete. Come see us for custom designing to create your old pieces into something new again, the options are endless!

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Pearl Gallery

The beauty and magic of pearls have been a source of fascination and desire since their discovery in ancient times. Viewed as magic charms, symbols of purity and love, or sources of wisdom and power, pearls are one of the oldest known gems and have been revered by countless civilizations.

Types of Pearls

 Akoya – This is the most familiar type of pearl sold in necklaces. Akoyas Japan and China are grown in  pearl oysters and are known for their shimmering beauty and warm colors which range rose, cream and gold to silvery white and blue/gray.

 

South Sea – Large (10mm and up) cultured pearls grown in tropical and semi-tropical oysters in the South Seas and around the coast of Australia. Their color ranges silvery white to gold; they are quite costly due to their size and rarity.

 

 

Tahitian Black – Large (10mm and up) cultured pearls grown in black-lipped oysters in French Polynesia. Colors range silvery gray and green to deep purple and black. Their large sizes and unique colors command premium prices.

 

Mabe – Large, hemispherical cultured pearls grown against the inside shells of oysters rather than in the oysters’ bodies. Less expensive than round cultured pearls due to their half-round shape, they are most popular in earrings, rings and brooches.

 

Freshwater – Pearls cultivated in mussels, not oysters, in freshwater lakes and rivers in China, Japan and the United States. Due to their easy cultivation, freshwaters are fairly inexpensive. Shapes can be freeform, rice shaped, off-round or spherical and colors range milky white, to peach, pink, and lavender.

 

 

Keshi – Also known as seed pearls, these tiny pearls can be as small as a grain of sand and form accidentally in many cultured pearl oysters.

 

Baroque – Cultured pearls that are irregularly-shaped, yet often lustrous and appealing. Due to their shapes, baroque pearls are often less costly than round, cultured pearls.

 

 

How To Buy Cultured Pearls

When purchasing a piece of cultured pearl jewelry, it’s best to buy pearls a knowledgeable, professional jeweler who can explain how to make the most of your purchase and ensure that you are getting the best quality cultured pearls within your budget. But always remember that the better the quality of pearls you select, the more valued they will be over time. Use the following quality factors to evaluate any piece of cultured pearl jewelry.

  • Lustre – A combination of surface brilliance and a deep glow that seems to emanate within the heart of a pearl. The lustre of a good quality pearl should be bright, not dull, enabling you to see your own reflection clearly on the surface of a pearl. A pearl that appears too white, dull or chalky indicates poor quality.
  • Surface – Since cultured pearls are grown by oysters in nature, it is rare to find a pearl whose surface is free any type of blemish. Blemishes can include disfiguring spots, bumps, pits and cracks on the surface of a pearl. The fewer blemishes on the surface of a pearl, the more valuable it will be.
  • Shape – It is very rare to find a perfectly round pearl, but generally, the rounder the pearl, the more valuable it is. Cultured pearls also come in oval, pear and baroque shapes.
  • Color – Cultured pearls come in a wide range of colors pink to black. While the color of a pearl is often a matter of personal preference, people with fair skin tend to look best in slightly pink or silvery white pearls, while cream and golden pearls look best on those with darker complexions.
  • Size – Cultured pearls are measured by their diameter in millimeters. They can be smaller than one millimeter, in the case of seed pearls, or as large as 20 millimeters for a big South Sea pearl. With all other quality factors being equal, the larger the pearl, the more valuable it will be since it is difficult for an oyster to grow a pearl larger than five millimeters. The most popular size of pearls sold around the world is about seven millimeters.
  • Matching – When buying a strand of cultured pearls, matching is very important. All the pearls in a good quality strand should be evenly matched in terms of luster, surface, shape, color and size. Well-matched pearl necklaces command top prices because pearl growers must harvest about 10,000 oysters in order to find enough pearls that match closely enough to make up a simple, 16-inch strand.

Selecting a Cultured Pearl Necklace

Choose your cultured pearl necklace based on your appearance, personality and style. For example, short necklaces are best with long necks; longer lengths tend to slenderize and elongate the body. Fair-skinned women look best in rose-hued pearls, deeper skin tones are more flattered by cream or golden hues. Let your expert jeweler customize a necklace so its proportions and color are exactly matched to yours. Use this guide to necklace lengths and terminology:

  • Choker – A necklace 14 inches to 15 inches in length that rests on the collarbone.
  • Princess – An 18-inch necklace strung with either graduated or uniform pearls.
  • Matinee – A slightly longer necklace, usually 20 to 24 inches in length.
  • Opera – A 30- to 36-inch necklace, this length should fall to the breastbone and can often be worn long or doubled.
  • Rope or sautoir – Any necklace longer than opera length. Ropes are often worn knotted or with a shortener for added versatility of style.
  • Dog collar – A multiple strand pearl necklace that fits closely around the neck.
  • Bib – A single necklace with multiple strands of pearls of varying lengths that are worn nested together.
  • Torsade – A necklace in which several strands of pearls (usually freshwater) are twisted together and held with a special clasp.
  • Graduated – A necklace with pearls of gradually increasing size with the smallest at the back and the largest at the center.
  • Uniform – A necklace in which all pearls appear to be the same size, although there is usually a slight difference between the center and end pearls.

To make sure you get jewelry that you will be happy with now and for years to come follow a simple rule: buy a professional jeweler, someone you can trust. Choose a retailer who has been serving the community for a number of years and has an established reputation.

Ask if the jeweler is a member of the Jewelers of America, the national association for retail jewelers, or look for the “J” mark on the door. Your JA jeweler is knowledgeable and can help you select, and match your cultured pearls and guide you, not only through this purchase, but any fine jewelry purchase.