Pearls have come a long way since our grandmothers wore them. From edgy earrings to funky statement rings, today’s artful designs go beyond the standard pearl necklace. The stunning array of different pearl varieties available on the market today — including new colors, styles and shapes — have garnered a whole new generation of pearl fans.
Here’s a look at a few of the reasons why pearls are experiencing a modern renaissance.
Pearl History and Lore
Pearls have captivated the human imagination and functioned as symbols of wealth and status for thousands of years. A Chinese historian recorded the oldest written mention of natural pearls in 2206 BC. Today, they remain treasured gems to be passed down from generation to generation.
In ancient civilizations, pearls symbolized the moon and were believed to hold magical properties. Thousands of years ago, Chinese civilizations thought that wearing pearls protected against fire and dragons. During the Victorian era, small pearls were used in mourning jewelry to symbolize tears. Pearls have also been known to symbolize fertility, loyalty, modesty, chastity, purity and friendship over the years.
Types Of Pearls
Some of the most sought-after organic gems on the market, South Sea pearls are coveted due to their impressive size — some are as large as 20 millimeters — and thick nacre, the iridescent outer coating that makes pearls so captivating.
Baroque and Semi-Baroque
Photo Courtesy of Seaman Schepps.
Baroque pearls are pearls that are irregularly or oddly shaped rather than round. Semi-Baroque pearls are only slightly irregular in shape (oval-shaped, for instance).
Natural pearls are formed without human intervention and are extremely rare.
As opposed to natural pearls, cultured pearls are grown in pearl farms. A technician implants the mother-of-pearl bead nucleus into a mollusk through a delicate surgical procedure. The mollusk is then returned to the water and cared for while the pearl forms.
Freshwater pearls are grown in freshwater lakes, rivers and ponds, predominately in China. They come in a wide range of colors and shapes.
Saltwater pearls are created by oysters in oceans from such places as Thailand, Australia, Indonesia and Tahiti. Saltwater pearls range from 2 to 10 millimeters in size and are usually round and white or cream.
The world’s most popular saltwater pearls are Akoya cultured pearls, which are grown in Japanese and Chinese waters inside Akoya oysters. They come in a variety of colors, from rose and silvery white to cream, gold or bluish grey.
Keshi pearls are a shape rather than a type of pearl. They aren’t found in large quantities and are extremely rare. They’re formed when the oyster rejects and spits out the implanted nucleus before the culturing process is complete. The result is a pearl without a nucleus — one that’s 100 percent nacre.
Pearls and Modern Jewelry Production Methods
Today, computer-aided-design (CAD) 3D modeling allows jewelry designers to see a design in its finished state before the piece is actually made to ensure everything is just right. With CAD, we can design pieces — including custom pearl pieces — specifically to the size of the pearl or gem to increase accuracy and reduce production time and waste. It also gets you, the customer, involved in the design process in a much more intimate way, and that translates to a higher degree of personal expression in the finished custom piece.
For a beautiful selection of pearl jewelry or to inquire about designing your own, visit Eiseman Jewels at NorthPark Center in Dallas.