November 11, 2021
WHAT MAKES PEARLS SO SPECIAL, THAT MAKES WOMEN LOVE THEM
Jewellery made of pearls, or of pearls combined with precious metals and precious stones, emphasises femininity and beauty. What makes pearls so special? Who does not admire them – beautiful, harmonious and subtle, they have been known and valued by people for centuries. Their beauty, rarity and high price have contributed to their widespread presence in culture and art. Vermeer’s painting from 1665 “Girl with a Pearl Earring” is known to everyone thanks to Peter Webber’s film of the same title. John Steinbeck entitled his well-known book “The Pearl”. Pearls also appear many times in the Bible, which is where the saying “do not cast your pearls before swine” comes from.
Pearls are the only jewels created by a living being. Each pearl is composed of many layers of calcium carbonate, represented as mother-of-pearl – a natural material produced by molluscs. Until the 20th century, the only way to obtain pearls was to dive more than 30 m deep without diving equipment. Today, natural pearls are very rare and found almost exclusively in Bahraini waters. Only about 5% of the pearls on the market are natural pearls, the remaining 95% are cultured pearls.
In the early 20th century, pearls became extremely desirable, pearl jewellery was valuable and sought after by many traders. The creation of the pearl farming method is credited to Kokichi Mikimoto. Round pearls are cultured by implanting a nucleus in an oyster. The animal protects itself from the foreign body by secreting layers of mother-of-pearl around it, thus creating a pearl. This intricate technique, known as ‘seeding’, requires great precision and has taken a long time to perfect.
Pearls today are divided into two main types: freshwater pearls and sea pearls. Freshwater pearls are commonly cultured in China and other warm climates. As for sea pearls, Akuna, Tahitii and Nam Hai are the three most well-known types of cultured pearls. The Tahitian black pearl in the Polynesian Islands was once called the black wonder of the sea due to its rarity.
For centuries, pearls were believed to have magical powers and should bring a woman luck and love. Today, pearl jewellery is worn by young girls and adult ladies alike for everyday wear and for parties.
Oysters take more time and it is more difficult to form large pearls. So naturally, large pearls are both rarer and more expensive.
Only a small proportion of all pearls are spherical. Therefore, perfect spherical ones are valued very highly.
Other pearl shapes
Baroque- uneven pearl
Gloss is the ability of a pearl to refract and reflect light. The beauty and longevity of a pearl is determined by its strong mother of pearl and good luster.
Only artificial pearls are perfect. Real pearls, like all natural products, often have slight irregularities on the surface. But the smoother the surface, the more valuable the pearl.
The spectrum of colours is large and the possibilities are numerous. A pearl is usually white, but can range from grey-blue or brown to gold, pink or green. Black pearls occur but are very rare. Quality is not determined by colour.
Joanna Czarnecka, Luxury Boutique magazine