Pearls of Wisdom from Sherri Bourdage
What are the different types of pearls?
Freshwater PearlsWhat are Freshwater Pearls? Freshwater pearls come from freshwater mussels. Produced in Japan and the United States, freshwater pearls are most exclusive to China. Chinese freshwater pearls are more affordable, longer-lasting and come in a wider variety of colors than its cousin: the saltwater pearl. Freshwater pearls have a very thick nacre layer, which gives them a beautiful luster and shine.
You can harvest as many as 30 pearls out of one mussel. As the mussel gets older, it produces higher luster pearls.
If you want to introduce someone to freshwater pearl jewelry we suggest a classic button earring to start.
A saltwater pearl is a pearl produced by a saltwater mollusk in a saline environment. The three most common types of saltwater pearls are Akoya pearls, Tahitian pearls and South Sea pearls. The shape of the saltwater pearl is naturally more round than freshwater cultured pearls. When buying saltwater pearls, make sure the nacre is thick enough that it will not peel off. To ensure the saltwater pearls are good quality, the pearls need to be more than 20 years old – which makes them quite expensive.
Why are the Saltwater pearls more expensive?
Saltwater pearls are more expensive than freshwater cultured pearls because the saltwater oyster only produces one pearl at a time. Freshwater mussels can produce up to 30 pearls at a time. This -- combined with the higher labor costs in Japan -- creates a more expensive pearl.
NOTE: At Bourdage Pearls, we specialize in freshwater pearls. However, we do have some saltwater pearls. Our pearls are Tahitian and Akoya. Tahitian Pearls are the only naturally occurring black pearls.
How do you choose fine quality pearl jewelry?
-Luster is the Most Important Criterion for Choosing Pearls-
Luster: First look at the luster of the pearl. Put the pearls on a white background to compare the luster (shine). You should be able to see your reflection in a fine quality pearl.
Surface quality: The next important criterion is how blemish-free the pearls are. The less imperfections you see, the more expensive the pearl.
Size: In general, the larger the pearl, the more expensive it is. Once pearls hit 8mm they will double in price.
Shape: In general, the rounder the pearl is, the more expensive it will be. Round pearls are generally worth twice as much as oval shaped or "off round" pearls.
What about the color of a good-quality pearl?
What are the natural colors of pearls?
The natural colors for freshwater pearls are white, pink and peach. Natural colors of saltwater pearls are white, light gray, dark gray, peacock, eggplant, dark gray, and gold.
How do the "treated colors" get their color?
Pearls will be treated with organic dyes or laser treated. With treated colors, you must be careful not to leave them in direct sunlight for a long period of time or they might fade.
What are the different pearl shapes?
The different shapes of pearls available at Bourdage Pearls Jewelry store are:
How can you tell if a pearl is real?
You can tell pearls are real by rubbing them against one another. If there is friction, the pearls are real. Friction means there is calcium, a key ingredient in pearls. If they just slip off each other, they are most likely imitation.
Another way to test if a pearl is real is by rubbing a pearl against your tooth. If there is a gritty feeling, then the pearl is real. The grit you feel is the calcium.
How do I take care of my pearls?
- To protect the surface of your pearls, put them on after your beauty routine. It is important to avoid contact with skincare products, hairspray and perfume.
- To keep their luster, occasionally wipe your pearls with a soft, damp cloth.
- To avoid scratches, store separately from your other jewelry in a soft cloth pouch.
- To keep them from drying out, wear them often. Pearls love the oils from your skin!
How do I clean silver jewelry with pearls on it so I don't hurt the pearls?
Many jewels and metal types need to be cleaned differently. If you have a piece of sterling silver jewelry with pearls in it, you need to care for it differently. Here's how you can clean the silver without harming the pearl.
- Line shallow dish or bowl with aluminum foil with the shiny side up
- Add a little powdered Tide (NO BLEACH)
- Fill the bowl with warm water (enough to cover your jewelry)
- Soak for 30 seconds
- Remove, rinse well and pat dry with paper towels and then air dry thoroughly
- Store in a sealed plastic bag.
How to choose a necklace style?
A pearl necklace is a great way to show off freshwater pearls. But the type of necklace you wear is just as important as the kind of pearls you choose. Try on a variety of necklaces (because they feel so nice) and consider a variety of options.
- Collar Length is 12-15" inches long and three or more strands. This style looks great with a V-neck or a scooped neckline and can add an elegant look to a special occasion dress.
- Choker Length is 16 inches in length and should nestle around the base of your neck in single or multiple strands. The single strand version is a classic that can be worn with just about anything. We love the classic choker and can't imagine why any woman would want to live without it!
- Princess length is 17-19 inches in length and is halfway between a choker and matinee in length. This is the ideal necklace if you want to show off one of the new high neckline styles.
- Matinee is 20-24 inches in length and should fall to the top of the cleavage. These versatile pearls can be worn during the day and in the evening.
- Opera is 28-34 inches in length and should reach to the bottom of your breastbone. It can be worn as a single strand or doubled with a clip and worn as a choker.
- Rope is any pearl necklace longer than the opera length. Typically it is usually 45 inches or longer. Ropes often come with multiple clasps so that the necklace can be shortened or worn as a bracelet.
Where is it appropriate to wear pearls?
You can wear pearls anywhere! Dress up a pair of jeans, create a demure look for work or glam it up on the town. Of course, they are always the right choice for a formal event: weddings, banquets or the opera. You can never make a fashion mistake with pearls.
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