How Do You Like Your Pearls?
Unlike any other, pearls are unique gemstones in that they’re created by living creatures. Although they have a fair bit of history behind them, many jewelers are in agreement that they’ve never been quite as popular as they are today.
Vogue just published 2023's jewelry trends and pearls continue to make the list and grow in popularity every year. Over the last few years, baroque pearls have been making the rounds on the red carpet. Celebrities like Dakota Johnson, Kiera Knightley, Emma Watson and Miley Cyrus have sported various types of baroque pearl jewelry.
Pearls represent elegance and can complement almost any outfit. Their shine and luster have been associated with glamour for hundreds of years.
When most of us think of pearls, we picture the classic, white, perfectly round spheres that we have seen throughout history. These, however, are only one among a wide variety of pearl classifications. In fact, there are several types of pearls that differ greatly in colour, size, shape, and place of origin.
Saltwater vs Freshwater
Typically, saltwater pearls have higher quality and are more valuable while freshwater are the most affordable option. Freshwater varieties are more durable while saltwater ones can have greater luster.
Freshwater pearls grow in mussels and are grown in sources like lakes and rivers. Most freshwater farms operate in China, Japan and USA. China, without doubt, is the largest source for this pearl variety.
Saltwater pearls come in three main varieties – Akoya (mainly from Japan), Tahitian (from French Polynesia) and South Sea (mainly from Australia, Philippines and Indonesia). These pearls grow in oysters and are sourced from farms located in coastal regions, in environments created to mimic the natural habitats of the oysters.
Both types of pearls come from farms, where technicians introduce an irritant into the creature’s tissue forcing it to start producing nacre as a defence mechanism. Over time, the creature produces layer upon layer of nacre which builds up the pearl. All modern pearls are cultivated this way and are referred to as 'cultured' pearls.
Baroque vs Traditional
Pearls are assessed by numerous factors, the key one here being shape. There are two primary shape categories that all pearls fall into: traditional and baroque. Traditional pearls are round while baroque pearls are virtually anything else.
Some prefer baroque pearls for their unique shapes, although traditional pearls are generally more valuable. The price of a traditional pearl depends on its size – the bigger, the better. Baroque pearls fetch higher prices based on colour and sheen.
As the name suggests, these are two pearls that have fused to form one. They can be symmetrical or mismatched, and they are favoured among jewellers for crafting stud earrings.
These are characterised by their flat, round shapes and smooth, reflective surfaces. They are used in all sorts of jewellery, from necklaces, to earrings, to bracelets and beyond.
These pearls are typically small, rounded specimens that do not meet the strict spherical dimensions of traditional pearls.
Resembling the shape of an eggshell, these bottom-heavy pearls are generally used in hanging jewellery. The jeweller will drill down through the centre of the egg pearl to best display its unique shape.
Like coin pearls, these are flat, reflective specimens that have also formed into the shape of a heart. They are popular when creating romantically themed pieces of jewellery.
One of the rarest varieties of baroque pearl, these occur when the oyster rejects part of the seed but carries on developing the specimen. They are typically elongated pieces of nacre that bear a remarkable luster.
Pearls are fabulous and fascinating, make wonderful gifts for loved ones and also when you want to spoil yourself. They also become family heirlooms that can be handed down from generation to generation. They’re especially suitable for 30th anniversary gifts, also known as the pearl anniversary. Now that you know more about the different types of pearls, you can choose the ones that appeal to you most.
-by Mary Vukovic'