Pearl Guide

 

Pearls are organic gems composed of nacre, which is produced by the pearl oyster and freshwater pearl mussel. They occur naturally in various body colors, overtones, and shapes.

These natural gems have been internationally prized for centuries as symbols of virtue, purity, and heavenly wisdom. The Ancient Greeks called them the tears of the God, they were known as mermaid tears in Japanese folktales, and Chinese lore claimed they were carried between the teeth of dragons. Pearls were ground into potions for beauty and wellness in cultures spanning from Ancient Egypt to the European Middle Ages, and are still used in skincare and supplements today. They have long been associated with luxury and status– Byzantine law prevented anyone but the emperor from wearing pearls, which later became English nobility’s gem of choice in the “Pearl Age” of the 16th century.

Hindu legend says pearls were dewdrops that fell from the moon into the sea, and were picked up by Krishna and gifted to his daughter for her wedding day. Pearls remain a popular wedding day gem as symbols of virtue in love. They are traditional gifts for 3rd and 30th anniversaries, and are sometimes associated with the Gemini and Cancer zodiac signs. Pearl is the modern birthstone for the month of June.

MEET THE PEARLS

 

MOTHER OF PEARL

Mother of Pearl describes nacre found in the lining of a pearl-producing mollusk. It is the same material from which pearls are formed. The material protects a pearl as if forms inside a mollusk. As a result, many cultures view mother of pearl as a powerful purifier and a symbol of protection.

BAROQUE PEARL

Pearls that are not perfectly round and smooth are known as baroque pearls. Baroque pearls occur in various freeform and asymmetrical shapes, and may have dented or textured surfaces.

TEARDROP & PEAR-SHAPED PEARL

The most notable baroque pearl is the teardrop shape. Teardrop pearls have a delicate, luxurious look that led to their widespread use in the jewelry of European royalty. The teardrop shaped La Peregrina Pearl worn famously worn by Elizabeth Taylor was previously worn as a brooch by Mary I of England.

COIN PEARL

Baroque pearls with a naturally flat and round shape are known as coin pearls.

KESHI PEARL

These rare, slow-forming baroque pearls are named after the Japanese word for poppy seed. Keshi pearls form when a mollusk rejects the center particle, resulting in an elongated, flat shape and textured surface. This “failed” development serendipitously creates pearls that are freeform and completely unique.

RICE & SEED PEARL

Rice pearls are small, smooth pearls that occur irregularly in round or oval shapes that resemble rice grains. Rare round pearls with diameters less than 2mm in diameter are known as seed pearls. Both rice & seed pearls have been popularly used as beads throughout history, particularly as intricate embellishments on items such as Victorian brooches and Fabergé Eggs.