The Lustre And Beauty Of Pearls


Coco Chanel became famous for her mantra ‘A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls.’

Here at Anja Potze Fine Jewellery, we simply could not agree more.

But how do you choose the ‘right’ pearl for you? And with so much choice available, how do you distinguish between Freshwater and Akoya, Tahitian or South-Sea?

Fortunately, we know a thing or two about pearls, and we’ve put together some top tips to help you when choosing pearls.

Perhaps the best-loved gems of all time, pearls occur in a wide variety of colours. The most familiar are white and cream, but the range of colours extends to every hue. The main colour, is often modified by additional colours called overtones, which are typically pink (sometimes called rosé), green, purple, or blue.

To begin with, let’s look at Natural Pearls vs Cultured Pearls:

The term Natural Pearl implies that it is formed accidentally without any human intervention. Due to their nature, these pearls are very rarely found in modern jewellery.

Cultured pearls are the result of the deliberate insertion of a bead or a microscopic irritant as small as a grain of sand which the mollusc coats with nacre. If a grain of sand is used, the mollusc coats more times than if using a bead. Therefore, there are different grades of cultured pearls – referred to in the industry as the ‘lustre’.

Cultured pearls are popular for bead necklaces and bracelets, or mounted in solitaires, pairs, or clusters for use in earrings, rings, and pendants. Larger pearls with unusual shapes are popular with creative jewellery designers.  

The growth of cultured pearls requires human intervention and care. Today, most of the molluscs used in the culturing process are raised specifically for that purpose, although some wild molluscs are still collected and used.

There are four major types of cultured whole pearls:

  • Akoya – This type is most familiar to many jewellery customers. Akoya pearls usually measure 2mm – 11mm, and their colour is white or cream with a yellow or pink hue, and overtones of pink or green.
  • South Sea – Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines are leading sources of these saltwater cultured pearls. South Sea pearls measure 8mm – 20mm. They are usually white, cream or silver in colour, with yellow, orange or blue hue, and overtones of pink, green or blue.
  • Tahitian – Cultivated primarily around the islands of French Polynesia, these saltwater cultured pearls usually range from white to black. These pearls measure 9mm – 14mm and a spherical in shape. The main colour can be black, brown or grey, with blue, purple and green overtones and a pink, green or blue hue.
  • Freshwater – These are usually cultured in freshwater lakes and ponds. They’re produced in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and colours. They can range from 4mm – 14mm and are white or cream in body colour. Freshwater pearls can have hues and overtones ranging yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue and green!

The journey of a pearl involves careful nurturing, countless hours of labour, and significant investment. So once you’ve treated yourself, go out there and wear them often. The body’s natural oils actually increase the lustre and beauty of this amazing gemstone.

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