Last week we discussed how pearls are produced by molluscs. The fact that pearls are produced by an animal affects the colour, shape and texture of pearls.
Shape: Pearls come in a variety of shapes. The classic and most sought after shape is full round. But perfectly round pearls are very rare, with a price tag to match. Off-round pearls are close to round and often appear round from a distance. More common are potato and rice pearls which are oval, and button pearls which are flat on one side. Baroque pearls are oddly or irregularly shaped pearls.
Texture: Not all pearls have the same texture. When picturing a pearl, most people think of smooth pearls. Smooth pearls are beautiful, but they do command a premium price. Oval pearls often have ridges around the middle and are more moderately priced. Some pearls have blemishes, areas that look like burst bubbles. These blemishes can add interest to a piece if used as part of the design.
Colour: The colour of pearls depends on the variety of mollusc that produced it. Natural pearl colours include white, cream, ivory, champagne, pale pink, peach, bronze and peacock. But many pearls, even white and cream ones are in fact treated and dyed. As a result, pearls are available in most every colour imaginable.
Care: The organic nature of pearls makes them more vulnerable to acids, heat and extreme humidity, which cause them to lose their beauty and reduce their lifespan. Special care should be taken with pearls.
• Perfume, hair spray and skin creams should be applied before you put on pearls so that the pearls are not sprayed or coated with the product.
• The acid in perspiration damages the nacre and lustre of pearls, so pearls should be cleaned with a dry, lint-free cloth before they are put away.
• Use warm soapy water to clean pearls (never use an ultrasonic cleaner), but avoid getting water into the drill holes – this could cause a change in the colour of the pearls.
• Pearls should not be stored in a plastic bag as the bag will cause condensation. Instead, pearls should be stored in a cloth pouch or in acid-free tissue paper. This will also protect the pearls from impact with other stones.
• Store pearls away from direct sunlight as it can change the colour of the pearls.
• Wear your pearls at least once a month. The small amount of humidity from your skin is actually good for them!
Since wearing pearls is good for them, feel free to indulge yourself with some fabulous pearl jewelry!
Featuring artisan handmade creations by the Etsy Starving Artists jewelry team. SATeam members create handcrafted jewelry and beads. More information about our team and its current Etsy shop owner members can be found at SATEAM.etsy.com.