Pearls are without a doubt one of the finest products made by nature. Due to the ability of pearl jewellery to enhance female beauty, pearls have been highly valued since ancient times right up until today. The oldest preserved fragment of a pearl jewel was found in the sarcophagus of a Persian princess and is approximately 2,440 years old.
Do pearls have a complexion?
The surface of a pearl has a lot in common with female skin. It can be radiant or matte, silky smooth or coarse. When carefully examined, a pearl has very complex visual properties. John Singer Sargent, a painter from The Belle Époque period, needed seven different colour tones to paint a pearl.
Today, there are many varieties of pearls sold, all with different origins and colours. In order to choose the right pearl necklace or pearl earrings, our skin should match with the ‘skin’ of the pearls. This is done with a simple compatibility test by placing the selected pearl jewellery on our wrist. And that’s because in that spot, skin tone is the closest in colour to that which is on our neck or around our ears. If the beauty of the pearl shines even more on your skin when placed against your skin on the wrist, then the choice is simple.
A precious stone with organic origins
Referring to pearls as gemstones may sound a little bit inaccurate. Yet, from a gemological point of view, genuine pearls are classified as precious stones – to be more precise, they are part of the organic minerals group along with coral and amber. Pearls are formed inside the shell of bivalve molluscs, mostly oysters and clams. These can be either sea or freshwater. If a foreign object such as a grain of sand penetrates inside, layers of nacre (aragonite) are produced as a defensive reaction. These layers are wrapped around the foreign object, gradually forming the shape of a solid pearl.
Round shaped pearls are still the best known and most common in jewellery making, but oval, egg-shaped or oddly shaped pearls also exist. Irregular baroque pearls, for example, are very popular.
How to properly care for pearls
The animal origins of pearls is what sets them apart from other crystal gems. As a result, pearls have that uniquely magic quality of something that straddles the bounds of organic and inorganic natural objects. But this characteristic is also their Achilles heel since unlike most other gems, pearls age. With the right care, a pearl will retain its appearance for 100 to 150 years, after which its layers will gradually begin to peel off. But exceptions prove the rule. When kept in good condition, pearls from as long ago as ancient Pompeii have survived. It is also said that pearls worn often on the body have a longer life.
Pearls are very sensitive to external influences. They can be damaged by extreme temperatures, humidity or excessive dryness as well as contact with some cosmetics. We recommend that you put on any pearl jewellery as the final step when you are getting ready. This is because hairsprays, creams, perfumes and other chemicals harm pearls. They should only be cleaned with lukewarm soapy water.
How and where to buy genuine pearls
Once you have made the decision to invest in pearl jewellery, you will want to be sure that you are buying genuine and not fake or imitation pearls. Pearls are distinguished between natural and cultured and both types are considered to be genuine pearls. The way a natural pearl forms is left to chance from the beginning. The foreign object which is gradually enveloped in layers of nacre has penetrated into the pearl’s shell naturally. In contrast, with cultured pearls, it was inserted by a person.