This carved abalone heart features a swirling Sterling silver setting and imitation rhodium plated chain. The perfect complement to any casual outfit, this pendant makes a great gift!
Every pearl is unique. But every so often, we come across a pearl that is just extraordinary. The pearl our Master Artisan chose for this brooch is certainly that! This dazzling adornment features a large freshwater mabe´pearl in the shape of elephant. It has been hand-embellished with Swarovski® crystals and finished with a smooth hand-inlaid abalone backing. There is only one of these stunning brooches in the world, and it won’t be replicated after it’s sold!
You can own your very own one of a kind pearl when you choose a mabé pearl pendant. These pearls are a brilliant white color with pink, blue, and green overtones playing across the surface. They have been accented with several Swarovski® crystals imbedded in the surface of the pearls and are finished with a smooth Abalone Mother-of-Pearl backing. Each pearl hangs from an 18″ Sterling silver chain on a sterling silver bail. Actual pearl may vary from picture.
Your friends might not even believe this is a real pearl, it looks so extraordinary. But it is! This pendant features a one-of-a-kind, genuine freshwater mabé pearl of many colors.
The nacré (smooth pearlescent substance that forms pearls and gives them their color and luster) is primarily gold, copper, and lavender with an amazing aqua blue and green orient that gives it an extra shine. This pearl has been hand-encrusted with Swarovski® crystals in a two-stripe pattern across the surface of the pearl.
Finished with a smooth abalone backing and a simple Sterling silver bail, this pendant hangs from an 18″ Sterling silver box chain.
Pearls International is proud to announce we are expanding our inventory of Abalone jewelry to now carry gorgeous, sustainably sourced Paua shell jewelry in Sterling silver!
Our new line, from a New Zealand company called Ariki™, includes amazing pieces hand-inlaid Paua shell that have been carefully selected once personally removed from the local waters by divers. The shells are actually a byproduct of fishing for food – so every part of the Abalone sea snail is used, which we though was super cool, because sustaining our sea life is very important. After all, the ocean makes up 71% of our Earth – so it’s important we take care of it and all the creatures that live there.
After each Abalone cabochon has been cut and set into your pendant or earrings, two layers of clear lacquer are added to protect and extend the life of your jewelry.
Remember, just like with your pearls, Abalone comes from the ocean where it is dark and protected from the sun and daily pollutants such as hair sprays and lotions. Follow these easy steps to keep your Ariki™ jewelry looking new for generations to come:
- Never expose your jewelry to perfumes, hair sprays, lotion, or other materials containing detergents. With time these may penetrate the lacquer and cause damage to the Paua shell.
- Don’t wear your jewelry for many hours in the bright sunlight.
- Remove your jewelry before swimming. Chemicals in the water can damage your shell.
- Store your Sterling silver jewelry in a jewelry box or other secure storage area when you aren’t wearing it. Believe it or not, exposure to oxygen actually causes silver to tarnish.
- Clean routinely with a good polishing cloth.
We hope you enjoy our new Ariki™ line as much as we do! Stop by the shop today to see all of the beautiful pieces!
(Looking for natural pearls? Contact the Pearl Girls for more information!)
Some of the questions the Pearl Girls here at Pearls International get asked frequently by new customers are “are your pearls real?” “are these cultured pearls?” and other similar inquiries. This gives us a chance to talk about our favorite subject – the beautiful, unique gems called pearls! Walking into our shop for the first time can be overwhelming – there are so many different shapes, sizes and colors that many of the people we meet had no idea could come out of a mollusk!
So, yes, ALL of our pearls are real, and most of the pearls we have on display are cultured. The vast majority of the pearls on the market today are cultured, with natural selections being found primarily at estate auctions, pearl collectors, and through older jewelers who specialize in antique jewelry – and you will pay quite a price for them. Most cultured strands start around $130, while it is not uncommon to pay that price (or much more) for a single natural pearl!
So why pay for a natural pearl when you can get a cultured pearl for a fraction of the price? All pearls are unique, but natural pearls offer even more unusual, exotic selections that you may not be able to find in cultured varieties. There are several species of pearl-producing mollusks that can not withstand the process of having a nucleus implanted in them to start the process of making a pearl. Yes, there are more crazy, beautiful, unique pearls available than you can ever imagine! Here are some of the amazing things you can find in this corner of the market:
You may have seen Abalone jewelry in our store, as Abalone mother of pearl is commonly used in jewelry and many of the other applications you see mother of pearl from an oyster used.
Abalone sea snails are found in rocky coastal waters all over the world, most commonly in Australia, New Zealand (where they are known as paua shells), South Africa, and California. They are commonly farmed and raised for food, and the meat is very valuable, selling for around $60 a pound. In addition to this, new methods are being developed to produce cultured mabé pearls from abalone snails. It is relatively easy to attach a bead to the inside of the shell of the snail without damaging the animal. However, it is impossible to culture a full Abalone pearl as they are hemophiliacs, meaning that if injured they will bleed out. Therefore, the nucleation process would kill the animal. Not to mention, the shape of the snail (being that it only has one shell, unlike oysters which have two) makes it hard to keep a bead in the shell long enough to begin the pearl-forming process. In fact, Abalone snails also have a large “foot” that is adept at kicking out foreign objects – such as a shell bead inserted by a human.
You can imagine how rare it is, considering these factors, to find an Abalone pearl. It is estimated that only 1 in 50,000 Abalone sea snails will produce a pearl, usually the result of a foreign object such as an invading parasite becoming lodged in their shell. That alone makes them an incredible value to pearl collectors. Additionally, Abalone are the most colorful of all pearl-producing mollusks, so of course the pearls show the same amazing array of colors – fantastic blues, greens, silver shades, and purples, and sometimes with a hint of red or orange. Abalone pearls are always baroque in shape, and the shape of them usually resembles a shark’s tooth. Prices on Abalone pearls are high and vary greatly depending on what the buyer is looking for, size, color, and luster. An average price range is $20-$100 per carat.
Yes, pearls can even come from a conch shell! Conch is a general term referring to any medium or large sized sea snail, generally whose shell has a high spire and a noticeable siphonal canal. The specific conch that produces the wonderful and rare “pink pearls” is the Queen or Pink Conch, found in the Caribbean sea. While conch pearls may look like a pearl, they are not actually classified as such. Since conch contain no nacre (the substance that causes pearls to have the iridescent “luster” they are known for), conch pearls are more scientifically classified as non-nacreous calcareous concretions (what a mouthful!). They are formed in the same way other pearls are formed, and as all pearls are technically “calcareous concretions,” pearl collectors and enthusiasts everywhere still refer to them as pearls. Confusing, right?
Conch pearls are usually relatively small, averaging around 3mm, and are mainly oval or baroque in shape. Conch pearls go for around $500 per carat, although this can increase drastically depending on shape, quality, and a property called flame – an amazing display on the surface of the gem that really does make it look like a fire burning on the surface.
Conch pearl jewelry is seen in many elegant and extravagantly expensive necklaces (like this one!), pendants, and rings. However, if you are fortunate enough to own one of these stunning pieces, beware that conch pearl color can fade over time when exposed to sunlight and other factors, so they must be stored and worn carefully.
For those of you still giving oysters all the credit on the pearl market, here is yet another pearl-producing snail! Meet the Melo Melo snail, found in the waters of Vietnam, Malasyia, Burma, and sometimes China and the Philippines. This sea snail is also known as the Indian Volute or Zebra Snail. There is no known way to culture pearls from this animal, so all melo melo pearls are natural. Like the conch pearl, melo melo pearls are not true pearls, but a non-nacreous, natural calcareous concretion.
Also known as Vietnamese pearls, melo melo pearls can range from tan to dark brown, hitting shades of orange in between. Pearls of a bright orange color, round in shape, and showing a flame pattern are the most beautiful and most valuable. These pearls are usually symmetrical and round or near round, and range in size from 7mm and even up to 40mm. That is a huge pearl! Of course, a pearl of that size would command an incredible price on the market. It is not uncommon for even a small melo melo pearl to sell for over $1,000.
Melo melo pearls are even more rare than conch pearls – the only known strand (pictured above) contains only 14 of these pearls, which is a relatively small number compared to more traditional strands. It is most commonly used in rings and pendants, although you may occasionally be able to find a pair of matched earrings.
Quahog pearls (pronounced KO-hog) are possibly the rarest find on our list so far. Produced by a non-nacreous saltwater clam found along the Atlantic coastline, called Mercenaria Mercenaria, these pearls take about 4-8 years to form, and are most commonly found in white, beige, brown, and sometimes near black. The most rare and prized quahogs, however, are purple or lilac in color, and this variety of clam is only of the only mollusks capable of producing a truly purple pearl.
We’re not sure why these clams are not used for culturing pearls, but we have a couple of guesses. For one, they do not produce nacre, which all cultured pearls are required to have to be classified as a true pearl. Also, these pearls take an unusually long time to form, and usually only form in older specimens because of this. Additionally, mollusks farmed for food are not usually used for pearl production, and vice versa. With the quahog market being as scarce as it is, and all of these factors considered, it would likely not be cost effective to farm them on the rare chance of getting enough purple pearls to build up the market.
As all quahogs are natural, and the clams are often used in food, most of these pearls are actually acquired by unsuspecting patrons at their local seafood bar. They are so uncommon (not to mention fragile) that the asking price usually far exceeds what one is willing to pay for them, therefore most of the lucky finders of these beauties tend to hold on to them or set them in jewelry for themselves or loved ones. Whether or not the demand for these pearls will increase in later years is hard to tell, but if the quahog market continues to follow the trend with the rest of the natural pearl family, we may see more of these for sale in the future.
One rare and incredible piece of quahog jewelry was found by a man named Alan Golash, of Newport, Rhode Island. Golash buys and restores antique jewelry for a living, and found this amazing piece at an antique store. It cost him a mere $14. Upon inspection, it was found to be composed of two quahog pearls – one measuring 14mm – 18k gold, three small diamonds, and black and white enamel. Not much is known about the history of this piece, but Golash believes it to be around 150-200 years old. He speculates that it may have belonged to the wife of a captain of a whaling or clipper ship, as they were of high class during that period of time and would have had the financial ability to procure such a piece. The current value of the piece is subject to a lot of speculation, as an exact value for quahog pearls is very difficult to pinpoint. Golash has the piece insured, but has not released the appraisal value to the public.
Not as rare as the others, but equally interesting, is the scallop pearl. Formed primarily in the Lion’s Paw Scallop of North, Central, and South America, these non-nacreous pearls occur in around one in every 50,000 scallops. Any pearls collected are byproducts of the fishing industry. They too are only found, never cultured.
Scallop pearls are usually small and range in color from shades of brown to plum or purple, orange, and white-purple. Brown is generally undesirable, and the pearl has to be very high quality to be marketable if it is also brown. The calcite in scallop pearls usually forms in microscopic platelets that show a type of “adventuresence” that makes it appear that these pearls have a type of glitter shimmering beneath the surface, gaining them the nickname “glitter pearls.” Scallop pearls sell for around $50-$500 a piece depending on quality.
After seeing all these beauties, we are even more pearl crazy than before! These aren’t even all of them – there are also Pen pearls (nacreous and non-nacreous oyster pearls), various other clam pearls, and Cassis pearls (another pearl from a sea snail) just to name a few! Nature’s little treasures really are breathtaking. It’s no surprise that natural pearls have such an incredible following in the jewelry industry and in the pearl market. If this blog interested you, you may enjoy part 2 – an article about some amazing and historical natural pearl pieces that have sold in auction, such as the famous La Peregrina.
Dream of coming across your own special pearl one day at the oyster bar? Why not check out the next best thing and open your very own wish pearl from Pearls International!
Pair of Sterling silver lever back earrings composed of a small round black color freshwater pearl hanging over a large abalone shell stylized teardrop.
Welcome to the Pearl Library!
Pearl Crazy (pûrl krā’zē) adj.
- Compulsively preoccupied or obsessed with pearls. Often accompanied by feelings of anxiety over any jewelry that has no natural glow;
- Incapable of finishing a single conversation without relating the subject matter to pearls, also known as “pearls on the brain;”
- Persistent attachment and consuming affection for lustrous ocean gems.
- Pearl Crazy may be communicable, as those who come into contact with individuals with the affliction tend to begin to behave strangely. There may be potential here for a global outbreak of Pearl Girls.
Pearl Girl (pûrl gûrl) noun
- Individual who is never spotted without some pearly adornment or accessory;
- Closely akin to Pearl Crazy, but also spends an inordinate amount of time in or around pearls.
Venus – Goddess of Love and Beauty
Legend tells us that when the excruciatingly beautiful Venus rose from the sea, the drops of water that fell from her body scattered and became a thousand perfect pearls.
Tears of the Gods
Cultures from around the world have cherished pearls for countless generations for their purity and natural perfection. In Persia, pearls are called the ‘Tears of the Gods’. Some cultures believe them to be God’s first creation.
During many Chinese dynasties, it was believed that pearls fell from the sky when dragons fought. In other times, they also believed that the moon alone could create pearls, bestowing its otherworldly celestial glow on the beautiful gems.
The ancient Greeks believed that when the sun went down, oysters, attracted by moonlight, would float to the surface of the ocean, open their shells to the night, and collect the glistening evening dew. They would disappear by morning, but the dew would soon be transformed into a radiant pearl.
Pearls’ Storied History
A Royal Requirement
Pearls have been known for centuries as “The Queen of Gems and the Gem of Queens.” Portraits of royalty more often than not feature pearls prominently as ornaments for clothing, as jewels in the hair, or as components in massive crowns or scepters. Those who could afford to buy and keep such gems would of course be glad to broadcast their wealth and power by putting their pearls on display.
Rulers and the very rich sought out this precious jewel, sending countless divers to their deaths by drowning or shark attack at the bottom of the sea! Pearls were often seized as spoils of war, passing from owner to owner during their long journeys. Queens were known to obliterate their rivals to obtain this priceless gem!
The Rich and Famous
In recent times, it is easy to see the power of pearls as women in high position still wear pearls (consider Hillary Clinton and Angelina Jolie, or Jacqueline Kennedy, Grace Kelly, and Princess Diana, for a few, who are all well known for wearing pearls). Think of the last time you looked at magazines in the supermarket checkout line. We’d hazard a guess that the most beautiful, influential women on the covers were wearing pearls!
An Exclusive Luxury
However they were made, the ancients certainly realized their unique worth, and pearls became one of the most prized gems in history. Their rarity meant that a high-quality pearl was so expensive that only a few lucky people could afford to own them. They quickly became associated with wealth and power, and the pearl’s popularity spread so rapidly, especially during the Renaissance, that laws were passed in Europe prohibiting anyone except for royalty and brides on their wedding day from wearing them.
The Mundane and the Mystical
Such a storied gem has of course produced its share of folk tales and superstitions. Even though many of these beliefs are no longer widely shared, some of them have found their way into our modern cultures.
In some cultures, brides are discouraged from wearing pearls on their wedding day or from incorporating pearls into their wedding ring for fear that they will bring tears to the marriage! However, going back many generations, this was not the intended meaning, but rather, pearls were thought to bring not tears of sadness, but tears of joy. In other cultures, including the American culture, brides think of pearls first when they think of a gem they would wear on their wedding day. Pearls on the bride, the bridesmaids, the flower girl indicate the purity and sacredness of the ceremony.
Buying a Pearl
In other cultures, people are not supposed to purchase pearls for themselves, but they must be given as a gift. Pearls must be purchased, because a gift of pearls will curse the wearer. To get around this, a person who is given pearls as a gift will often pay the giver a token amount, usually just a couple of coins (as if they were ‘buying’ the pearls) to break this ”curse.”
Pearls’ association with babies and children is well- known, and some believe that placing a pearl under the pillow of a childless couple will allow them to conceive.
Perhaps due to their inherently feminine nature, pearls are sometimes thought to help cure depression in women. It is the belief of the Pearl Girls at Pearls International that receiving a gift of pearls would certainly cure most depressions we can think of!
Unsurprisingly, given their natural luster, pearls are strongly associated with the moon and moon goddesses. A mixture of ground pearls and water was even believed to cure lunacy! (Not surprisingly, the word ‘lunacy’ derives from the Latin word for ‘moon’.)
An Exquisite Gift
The pearl is the birthstone for individuals born in June. All types and colors of pearls are appropriate for gifts to those born in the month of June.
Pearls are prized for their beauty and history, and are given as priceless gifts on the 1st, 3rd, 12, and 30th wedding anniversaries to symbolize purity and constancy.
Giving pearls to newborn babies is thought to give them a long and happy life.
Pearls are thought to provide their wearers with the power to obtain love, healing, protection, wealth, and luck. Pearls International makes no claims as to the validity of any of these beliefs, but if your pearls bring you luck, we wouldn’t be at all surprised! When you buy pearls for a loved one or for yourself, you can be sure that it will be appropriate and appreciated, often becoming a favorite piece!
The Cultivation of True Beauty
The process of culturing pearls was perfected in the early twentieth century by a handful of dedicated and passionate pearl advocates, a man named Kokichi Mikimoto being chief among them. Initially, his intention was to restore oyster populations that had been depleted in his native Japan due to increasing industrialization and pollution. However, after many years of experimentation, Mikimoto discovered a method through which he could reliably produce pearls by implanting carved shell beads in the tissue of the Akoya oyster. Soon, his method was adopted by other pearl cultivators, and the history of the pearl was changed forever. Regular folks would never have been able to afford a pearl if not for the hard work of these pioneering souls who made cultured pearls the industry standard – and we at Pearls International are forever grateful!
Once an exceedingly rare gem, pearls today are cultivated by man, so they have become accessible to virtually everyone. They are produced in a variety of places around the world, including the Persian Gulf, India, Sri Lanka, the Red Sea, and even from as close to home as Tennessee! Some freshwater pearls can even be found in the rivers and lakes of Scotland, Ireland, France, Austria, and Germany, and from the areas around S. Viet Nam, S. Korea, Burma, Thailand. At Pearls International, we source our pearls primarily from Tahiti, Australia, Japan, China, and New Zealand, the places most likely to produce pearls of high quality and luster.
The Birth of a Pearl
Pearls are an organic gem, and are relatively soft, ranging between 2.5 and 4.5 on the widely-used Moh’s Scale of Hardness. They are formed when a small irritant finds its way into an oyster’s shell composed of many layers of shimmering nacre coating, an irritant that finds its way into the oyster’s shell.
Pearls may take several years to reach a size that can be used for jewelry. During that time, each oyster leaves its own signature, which appears on the surface of the pearl as luster and orient. The oyster may also leave small imperfections in the surface of the pearl — far from being undesirable, these characteristics help to give each pearl its own personality and makes each one unique. Because of this individual signature, no two pearls in the world are alike. With pearls, you know that your jewelry is truly one-of-a- kind!
Name that Pearl!
Today, there are so many varieties of pearl on the market that it can be difficult to choose. Most pearls fall into one of four major groupings: Freshwater, Akoya, Black Tahitian, and South Sea. Here are a few of the more common types, along with photos and descriptions to help you decide which pearl type is right for you! If you’d like to know more about choosing the perfect pearl, check out our pearl- buying guide.
A cultured pearl is any pearl grown with the influence of human intervention. Today most pearls are cultured, meaning that they are implanted with a foreign object to produce a certain shape or form of pearl. Cultured pearls are not as expensive as natural pearls, but because they are cultivated by humans, they are plentiful and less dangerous to harvest. The only way to tell if a pearl is natural or cultivated is to have it x- rayed to determine if there is a foreign object at its center.
Natural pearls cover a huge variety of pearls and can be further divided into saltwater pearls (formed in gulfs, bays, seas, oceans) and freshwater (from lakes, rivers etc.). Natural pearls are typically saltwater. Formed entirely by an act of nature and with no assistance from man, the irritant enters the mollusk. The irritant can be anything from a fragment of shell to very small animals such as snails or worms! Most natural pearls are irregularly shaped, and these pearls are very rare to come across–when you do, they come with a hefty price tag!
Black saltwater pearls are a naturally dark colored pearl that are formed in an oyster with a “black-lip”. Black Tahitian pearls are by far the most common, but other oysters will produce darker colored pearls very infrequently. The majority of black pearls available on the market, and almost all black freshwater pearls have been enhanced by treating with organic compounds, irradiation, or heat to deepen their color.
Most black pearls are not truly black, and there are a wide range of pearl colors that are included in the ‘black’ family. These colors include true black, light black, silver, blue, or dark grey, although other very dark colors such as the rarer peacock green are also referred to as black pearls.
Originally Tahitian black pearls, the chocolate pearl is born within the black Pinctada Margaritifera, the black-lipped oyster. After the pearl is harvested it is treated with a natural combination of organic compounds to produce a lighter chocolate color. Just like that, this beautiful pearl goes from licorice to chocolate. Freshwater pearls can also commonly be found in chocolate colors, but are almost invariably treated to achieve these rich tones.
‘Freshwater’ is the umbrella term for any pearl that forms in a body of water that is not salty, such as a river, lake, or stream. A freshwater pearl is created when a piece of foreign material enters an oyster’s shell and cannot be ejected by the animal. The object irritates the mollusk, and to decrease the irritation, the oyster produces nacre, a hard substance similar to horn. Over a period of time a pearl is produced in the shape of the object that was covered by the mollusk.
The son of a Japanese noodle shop owner, Kokochi Mikimoto’s interest in the cultivation of pearls was sparked by his era’s obsession with natural pearls. He realized that even with their popularity, finding a natural pearl of any quality was incredibly rare. Noticing the trading power that the pearl had, Mikimoto set out to create pearls of his own that would ensure pearls would never be scarce again. Mikimoto wanted to guarantee that his pearls were worthy of a reputable standing amongst the world’s finest pearls, so he established a grading system with only 5% of cultured pearls meeting the criteria.
South Sea Pearls
The South Sea pearl comes from the Pinctada Maxima oyster, which originated in Sri Lanka. These oysters were originally famed for their shells, which were used in the production of Mother-of-Pearl shirt buttons. When diving for oysters the pearls were an viewed as an extra incentive! Broome pearls was the official name of the South Sea pearl; these pearls became so sought after that government had to outlaw the harvest of oysters to prevent extinction. South Sea pearls usually come in the peacock green color range and are larger than most pearls due to their warm habitat.
Tahitian pearls are also known as Black South Sea pearls, and are cherished for their exotic colors and mirror-like luster. Often called “Black Pearls”, Tahitian pearls consist of the widest spectrum of exotic colors of any pearl! These colors include peacock green, silver green, blue, eggplant and many more! Tahitian pearls come from the Pinctada Margaritifera oyster, which is found exclusively in Tahiti and other French Polynesian islands. Tahitian pearls range in size from 8mm to as large as 16mm!
Found in the Kimberley area of Northwest Australia, the Australian pearl industry is know for producing the world’s finest pearls, and generates 20,000,000 dollars a year. Australian pearls are grown in saltwater, and range in color from subtle gold to milky white.
Found in the Caribbean, Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico, conch pearls are one of the rarest varieties of pearl, but it wasn’t always this way. Spiral-shaped Queen Conches are primarily harvested for their meat, but every 1 in 1,000,000 conches produces a non-nacreous pearl. Conch pearls are created from a calcium carbonate which produces a flame configuration on the face of the pearl along with a hardness and resistance to damage. The colors of these pearls vary from white, yellow, pink, and the mogul of them all, the salmon-colored orange pink.
Mallorca/ Majorca Pearls
Because natural pearls are so rare, people have for thousands of years created substitutes. Records indicate that the ancient Romans made imitation pearls. Queen Elizabeth I of England, who had a passion for pearls as you can see in just about every portrait, is said to have established an artificial pearl industry to supply what nature could not. Mallorca pearls originate from the Spanish island of Mallorca. Also known as Majorcan pearls, they are very popular in the United States. The techniques for manufacturing imitation pearls have varied over the centuries and today include coating glass beads with a mixture of varnish and fish scales or flakes of the mineral mica.
Tennessee River Pearls
Named the state gem in 1979 the Tennessee River pearl is not your average pearl. The only domestically cultivated pearl available in the US, this pearl is known as the most durable pearl in the world. The irregular or abstract shape of the pearl comes from changes in the toxin levels in the Tennessee Rivers after WWI.
Button pearls are pearls that are spherical on top, and flat on their underside, they are mainly used for earrings because of this structure, which lends itself well to mounting on posts. Also called rondelle pearls, the button pearl is a freshwater pearl. These pearls are very popular because of the uniformity they possess.
On occasion you can find tiny seed pearls in any kind of mollusks in any color. These pearls were very popular during the Victorian era, and were used to make extravagant pieces for less than the cost of diamonds, rubies or other gemstones. Pieces containing thousands of tiny pearls were constructed, requiring less work because the individual stones didn’t have to be cut. They were shaped and formed to place on wire frames or horse hair ropes.
Keshi pearls are often considered to be formed by accident, since these pearls occur when an oyster ejects its irritant before the culturing is complete. As a result, Keshi pearls are 100% nacre and generally have a very high level of luster. Keshi pearls are typically small and can come from saltwater or freshwater oysters. Keshi means “poppy seed” in Japanese, and they are sometimes called “poppy seed pearls”.
Mabé pearls are “worked” and “assembled” Blister pearls. So what does that mean? While in the oyster, the pearl is actually considered a Blister pearl and not a Mabé pearl. This type of pearl is intentionally grown by using a hemispheric nucleus or a half bead and implanting it against the oyster’s shell rather than within its tissues. Once the Blister pearl has formed it is then “worked”, cut out of the oyster’s shell using a circle-bit drill. Then they “assemble” by placing a cap on the back of the pearl with a piece of mother-of-pearl and the Mabé is complete. Mabé pearls are known for having high luster and orient and are used most often for rings and earrings.
Baroque pearls are irregular and come in all different shapes and sizes, neither round nor symmetrical, and they usually have uneven surfaces. Most are inexpensive, but some remarkable baroques have come to be the centerpiece for very expensive pieces of jewelry. Their fantastical shapes lend themselves to use in pieces that take full advantage of their unique appearance.
Ring pearls are the result of a tight fit! The oyster is nice and cozy inside its shell, then along comes the irritant. Because there is only so much room for the oyster AND the irritant, the oyster is left with only one choice–as it coats the irritant, the oyster is able to spin the soon- to-be-pearl in one direction, resulting in a one-of-a-kind signature!
Mother of Pearl
Mother of pearl is the inner pearly layer of the shell of the Gastropoda, Bivalvia (Pepcypoda) or Cephalopda family of oysters. The lip, or inside of the oyster can be in any range of colors, and these oysters are found all over the world. These shells lend their colors to the pearls their oysters produce. Mother of Pearl is used in jewelry, inlay on musical instruments, ornaments, buttons, and gun and knife handles.
Known for both their meat and mother-of- pearl, abalones, or ear-shells, can be found around the world. They produce beautiful natural pearls in shades of turquoise, rose, green and cream. Abalone thrive on rocky shores in cold water. They are often encrusted with small clams that bore in from the outside and stimulate the production of Blister pearls. Evidence from archaeological sites in California shows that natural abalone pearls were used as trade goods by native peoples for thousands of years. Today, species are being cultured in California and New Zealand, chiefly for food but also for mabé pearls.
Think you can stump our Pearl Specialists? Call us at 386.767.3473 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and ask any question you can think of relating to pearls or Pearls International jewelry, and we’ll tell you everything we know!
If you want to find out how to tell if you’ve found a high-quality pearl, check out this handy Pearls International Pearl Buying Guide!
Frequently Asked Questions
You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers! Check out these FAQs for some of the more commonly asked questions about Pearls International products and practices. About Pearls International Shipping and Returns Jewelry Our Pearls After-Purchase Questions Pearl Care Pearl Parties Payment Information Technology Other Questions
Who are you guys, anyway? What makes Pearls International different?
Pearls International is the best place to buy unique genuine pearl jewelry, gifts, and accessories online. We help our customers to think outside the round, white pearl by offering designs you won’t find anywhere else at affordable prices. We are family-owned and operated, and our passion is making our customers happy by providing products with superior quality and design. For years, the mission of the folks at Pearls International has been to bring our favorite obsession to the masses – Pearls! We believe that nature and artistic expression form two parts of a great whole: Nature provides the pearls, and our skilled craftsmen and artisans provide the artistic expression! The result is a finished product that is more than the sum of its parts. Our genuine unique and amazing pearl pieces will set your heart aflutter because they were designed to help you express your individual style and creativity! Pearls International is working hard to change the way business is conducted by making sustainability a part of every decision. We constantly strive to make our business more environmentally friendly, socially responsible, and just plain fun for your shopping pleasure!
Where is your jewelry made?
Made in the USA! The majority of our jewelry is made and assembled right in our own workshop here in Florida. Some of the chains and jewelry components are imported. Occasionally, we will stock an item that was made elsewhere, but only if it is supremely awesome. Buying great jewelry has never been easier or more fun, thanks to the dedicated and growing team. Our Pearls International Pearl Girls (and Guy) are always available to assist you with your jewelry needs. Meet our Pearl Team! We’d love to get to know you too. Call us at 386.767.3473, or email us at email@example.com. We’ll answer any of your questions and help you find the perfect piece. Pearls International. Be anything but ordinary.
Where is Pearls International located?
You can find us at Volusia Mall next to Macy’s. Need directions? Check out the Contact Us page.
Do you have stores? Can I visit you to see the jewelry?
Yes, and we’d love it if you’d stop by! We have two lovely showrooms where you can view our beautiful jewelry creations. Find us at Volusia Mall at 1700 W. International Speedway Boulevard, Suite 366 Daytona Beach, FL 32114 (near Macy’s), where we are open Sunday 12-6, Monday-Saturday 10-9. Stop in to look at all the pretties, or sit down and try out the one-of-a-kind Pearls International Creation Station! We have a comfortable seating area for anyone who would prefer to wait while you shop, so don’t be afraid to bring your other half along for the ride!
Do you have the piece I’m looking at on the website in stock?
Yes! All of the jewelry you see on the site is in stock at our store. You will never have to wait for us to order it for you from another source. If an item on the site is temporarily out of stock, you will not be able to add it to your cart. The only exception is for special order or custom items, which we make especially for you. Call us at 386.767.3473 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about a particular item.
Can you help me select the perfect piece?
Absolutely! Our expert Pearl Stylists can give you tips, tricks, and all sorts of great ideas for pairing jewelry to create the perfect outfit. Find out more about our FREE Personal Shopper service here!
Do you have a warranty on your jewelry?
Yes, we have a one-year warranty on the workmanship of all our jewelry in addition to our 30-day satisfaction guarantee return policy. If you accidentally damage a piece, we’ll be happy to repair it for you for a reasonable fee. The warranty is void if the piece is altered or another jeweler resizes or modifies the piece, since alterations, when done incorrectly, can damage the pearls or the strength of the setting.
Does Pearls International have a catalog?
We do not carry a printed catalog for the flagship store, rather, our catalog is online at pearlsinternational.com. Virtually all of our shop items appear right here on our website!
Why should I sign up for an account?
Benefits for having an account include: 1. Access to your order history. 2. Quicker check out, since you don’t have to re-enter your shipping information. 3. Password- protect your Wish List and access it from anywhere. 4. Opportunity to receive exclusive offers, discounts, and more from Pearls International.
Why should I subscribe to your seasonal newsletter?
Subscribers see new Pearls International designs first, sometimes even before they are available on our website. We report on the latest jewelry trends every season, what the stars are wearing, and tips and tricks for making the most of your pearls. You can also opt-in to receive occasional special offers and coupons. We’ll never send you spam, because we hate it too. Subscribe to our seasonal newsletter here and get 10% off your next purchase!
Do you offer discounts?
We occasionally send our subscribers special offers and coupons in return for their opinions on new collections. Check back often to take advantage of website-wide sales and discounts!
Do you sell gift cards or gift certificates?
Yes. Pearls International Gift Cards and Certificates allow you to give a special person in your life a beautiful, heirloom quality gift. You have a choice of either an Instant Electronic Gift Certificate that is sent to your recipient via email (great if you’re on a deadline!), or a Pearls International Gift Card sent to you via U.S. mail. You can select the amount to place on the Gift Card and be sure that your special someone will absolutely adore their one-of-a-kind gift!
My email address has changed. How do I update my account?
You can access and update any information pertaining to your account. To access your account, click here. Once you login to your account, click the ‘Edit Profile’ button to change your email address.
I can’t find the piece I wanted on the site anymore. Can I still order it?
We do occasionally update our selection and remove pieces we no longer offer. We also rotate prominently featured items. It may be that the piece you are looking for is still available, but in a different location. Call Pearls International Customer Care at 386.767.3473 or email us at email@example.com and we’ll do our best to find it for you.
Why did the price change on the piece I’ve been planning to purchase? Can I lock in the price now?
At Pearls International, we always want to give you the best possible price. Our prices change as the prices of pearls and precious metals fluctuate. If you would like to freeze today’s price for two weeks, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Customer Care at 386.767.3473. You’ll be able to purchase the item at your reserved price by contacting us when you are ready to purchase. (You can also decide to buy the item at the future price if you prefer, it’s up to you.) We cannot offer price reservations on special order or custom jewelry, sale items, or last minute gifts, as these jewelry categories are subject to availability.
I saw a Pearls International item on another shopping site and the price was different. Why is that?
All our pricing is calculated using current metal and gem prices to give you the best possible value. When these prices fluctuate we adjust our pricing to accommodate the changes from our suppliers. Of course, not all shopping sites adjust their pricing at the same times, so price changes may not be immediately reflected.
Do you offer appraisals on your jewelry?
For items that are more than $1,000, we are happy to provide a retail replacement evaluation of your jewelry piece for your insurance company. Call Pearls International Customer Care at 386.767.3473 or email us at email@example.com for more information.
How can I keep track of new developments at Pearls International?
There are tons of great ways to keep track of what we’re up to. Check out Pearly Whirly, the official blog of Pearls International, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, and sign up for our seasonal email newsletter, Pearls’ Eye View! You can also opt-in to receive occasional discounts and offers, and even get great deals sent to you on your birthday and anniversary!
How much is shipping?
Currently we offer free shipping for orders over $99. Some expedited delivery requests may require an additional charge. A full list of our shipping rates is available here.
Do you ship to countries other than the United States?
We do not ship to other countries at this time. If you live overseas or would like to send a gift to a friend in another country, we would be happy to send your purchase to your USA-based forwarding agent.
Can I check the status of my order?
Yes! If you signed up for an account with Pearls International, you can view the status of your purchases by logging in to your account. We will also provide tracking information if you give us a valid email address at the time you place your order.
I have an occasion coming up soon, can I get my jewelry faster?
We do our best to make people happy with our beautiful pearls. Call Customer Care at 386.767.3473 to request special express delivery and we’ll do it if we can. It may require overnight delivery or Saturday delivery, both of which are offered at an additional charge. View our shipping rates here.
Do you ship to APO addresses?
Yes. But shipping takes longer. We recommend that you allow at least an additional two weeks to receive your purchase
Do you ship to PO Boxes?
Yes, but only through U.S. Mail. FedEx does not deliver to PO boxes.
Is my package insured? Do I have to be home to receive my package?
You can elect to insure your package for an additional fee. A receiving signature is required on delivery of orders over $1,000. (If your package is below $1,000 but you’d like a signature to be required, just let us know.) You’ll receive an email that the package is on its way. Call us before we send it to make special delivery arrangements.
I want to return my purchase. What do I do?
Pearls International offers a money-back 30-day return policy. You can send pieces in their original condition back for a full refund: it’s that simple. All you pay is the return shipping! To make your holiday shopping stress free, all orders placed after November 11 will be returnable until January 15. Please see our Shipping and Returns page for details.
I would like to return a gift that was sent to me. How do I do that?
Simply give Pearls International Customer Care a call at 386.767.3473 and we’ll walk you through the simple process.
Can I return a special order or custom item?
No. Special order and custom items are non-returnable.
How long does it take to get a refund?
After we have received and inspected your returned order, we issue your credit within 24-48 hours. It then depends on your card issuer how long it takes to appear in your account.
Can I commission a custom design?
Of course! Our custom design specialists will be happy to collaborate with you on any design your heart desires! You can learn more about our custom design services and see examples of our work here.
Can I order a design with a different size or shape of pearl?
Some designs are available with different size or shape pearls or we may carry something almost the same in the size and shape you want. Call Pearls International Customer Care at 386.767.3473 and we’ll help you find the perfect piece!
Do you buy gold, gemstones, or pearls?
We do not as a rule buy estate, pawn, or used jewelry, gemstones or pearls.
Can I order a ring in a size that isn’t offered on the site?
Yes. There may be an additional charge depending on the size and the metal components. Special-order sized rings are nonreturnable. Contact Customer Care at 386.767.3473 for details or check out our Resizing Policy.
Can I order platinum or 18K gold chains?
Yes. We can send you photos of chains that are available from our suppliers. Just call Contact Customer Care at 386.767.3473 and let us know if you are looking for something specific.
Are the metals used in your jewelry products guaranteed not to tarnish?
Even though the jewelry from Pearls International is made from the finest materials and with the greatest attention to detail, it can still tarnish. As with all jewelry, you should treat your items with care. Jewelry should be stored inside a jewelry box or bag to minimize the need for cleaning. Due to numerous individual and/or external factors, metals will tarnish or oxidize when not worn and if exposed to air, whether they are gold plated, silver plated, gold filled, 14K gold, sterling silver, brass, copper, or any of the other “non- tarnishing” metals used in the manufacture of jewelry. Environmental and personal usage of cosmetics, cleansers, and household chemicals are the dominating causes of metal tarnish. Our company stands behind all of our materials and workmanship, but unfortunately, we cannot guarantee against tarnish or wear and tear.
What do the terms “gold tone” and “silver tone” mean?
“Gold tone” and “Silver tone”, is reference to a plating process where the base metal of the indicated item has been plated with an overlaying metal to give it the gold or silver color. This plating process applies a thin layer of the desired metal color through an electrolysis process. Over time, this plated material, as with all jewelry metals, will tend to tarnish, and with heavy wear, will begin to wear through to the underlying base metal.
Will my silver tarnish?
Yes. All silver eventually does tarnish. How long it will take depends on the chemistry of your skin and whether you live near the ocean. The good news? The more you wear it, the longer it will take to tarnish. (We love any excuse for wearing more jewelry more often!). Just be careful what cleaning products you use to remove tarnish, since some of them can damage the luster of pearls. View the Pearl Care section of these FAQs for more details.
Are your metals ethically sourced and environmentally friendly?
We do everything we can to use environmentally sustainable practices in our business, but some findings like earring posts and chains are not currently available with recycled metals, and it sometimes difficult to determine the origin of the metal. We continue to work with our suppliers toward a future of 100% traceable precious metals.
What if I don’t know the ring size?
You can download and print a free paper ring sizer here. If time is of the essence, or you are purchasing the ring as a gift, choose “not sure” from the ring size drop down and proceed to checkout. We will contact you to help. Pearls International offers one free resizing within 30 days of delivery on eligible pieces. All you have to pay is the shipping. However, resizing can take three to six weeks and we know you won’t want to be without your ring for that long: we’d love to help you get it right the first time!
Can I buy a ring without the stones?
For special requests such as this, it is best to contact us for more information. While we normally sell finished pieces only, we may be able to fashion you an identical ring with no stone with our custom design services. Also, it is usually possible to use your own stones in a setting we have in stock. You can also find many blank settings for rings and more on our extended inventory Showcase here. Please feel free to call 386.767.3473 for ordering information!
What countries do pearls usually come from?
Australia, China, Japan, and Tahiti.
What are the four largest groupings of pearls?
Freshwater, Akoya, Black Tahitian, and South Sea
What is the difference between Freshwater pearls and Akoya pearls?
Freshwater pearls are recognized as the most varied and beautifully cultured pearls in the world. They are most often cultivated in pristine freshwater lakes in China as well as Japan. Freshwater pearls come in every size, shape and color. “Akoya” refers to pearls produced by the Japanese Akoya oyster (Pinctada Fucata martensii) that lives in the ocean waters off the coasts of Japan and China. Akoyas are usually a round, flat shell and usually come in shades of white with rainbow interiors.
What is the difference between Black Tahitian pearls and South Sea pearls?
Black Tahitian pearls and South Sea pearls are named according to the location where they are cultivated. Both of these groups generally come in all shades of gray to black. They are usually cultivated to be round, but sometimes come in irregular shapes. South Sea pearls are often found in white and gold, as well.
How are pearls produced?
Following the pattern set by Nature herself, an irritant in the form of a mother-of-pearl bead or small piece of the mantle of another type of mollusk is slipped within the folds of a live oyster or clam. The mollusk is then returned to the water and in time covers the bead with layers of nacre, the pearl substance. At the end of the prescribed period, the mollusks are taken out and the pearls removed. The oyster is then implanted with another bead or piece of mantle and again returned to the water.
What is Mother of Pearl?
Mother-of-pearl, also called nacre, is a natural iridescent layer of material which forms in the shell lining of many mollusks. Pearl oysters and abalone are both sources of mother of pearl, which is widely used as an inlay in jewelry, furniture, and musical instruments. Mother-of-pearl comes in several natural colors, and is often bleached and dyed for decorative use. The dye retains the shimmering layers of nacre which make Mother-of- Pearl so sought after.
Are your pearls natural?
Virtually all pearls on the pearl market today are cultured. The rarity of natural pearls places them beyond the reach of the average consumer. Pearls International pearls are hand- selected by our expert Pearl Specialists to create stunning designs from nature.
Are all of your pearls real?
Yes. We’re in the business of making heirlooms. We don’t want to be pearl snobs but we’d like to point out that instead of something that’s made in a factory, you may choose a beautiful natural gemstone that has lasting value for not much more! You’ll thank us later!
What quality are your pearls?
Pearls International offers only high quality pearls with exceptional luster and shine. We select premium pearls in hundreds of varieties to provide designs that will complement every style.
Can I get an authenticity certificate for my pearls?
Yes. All of our pearl pieces are accompanied by a card stating their authenticity. If you require a grading certificate, please contact Customer Care at 386.767.3473 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are your pearls enhanced?
Some varieties of pearls are enhanced in color and in luster. At Pearls International, we carry a huge variety of un-enhanced pearls along with some that are just too pretty to pass up! If you prefer unenhanced pearls in a rare or unusual color, please contact us and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.
Where do your pearls come from?
Our Pearl Specialists seek out the best pearls available a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors from around the world. Most pearls come from China, Japan, Tahiti, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand, and we occasionally see pearls from sources closer to home, like Tennessee! Some varieties, like Akoyas, are produced in only one locality and others, like freshwater pearls, come from several different places. We have all the details on each variety (and much more) in our Pearl Library. We would be happy to give you more details about a specific pearl variety if you just ask. Let us know the size and shape of the pearls you are interested in since that may sometimes determine origin. Also if you would like to purchase a pearl from a particular place, we will find one for you. But we would urge you not to assume that origin and quality are the same thing. Sometimes the most beautiful pearls come from the most unlikely oysters!
Are your gems ethically sourced?
It is not always possible to tell where a pearl originates after it has been sorted and polished. At Pearls International we choose our suppliers carefully and do our best to assure that all the gemstones we sell are responsibly cultivated. We support high ethical standards in the pearl and jewelry industry.
Will you set my gemstone?
We can set gemstones only if you bring them to the store in person. Our experts can look at them and determine exactly what can be done with your gems.
Do you match prices if an item I purchased goes down in price later?
All sales prices are final and Pearls International does not price match. All our pricing is calculated using current precious metal and pearl prices to give you the best possible value. These prices do change from time to time which causes our prices to fluctuate accordingly.
What happens if the ring I bought doesn’t fit?
Pearls International offers one discounted resizing within 30 days of delivery. All you have to pay is the shipping. Resizing can take one to six weeks depending on the style, seasonal order load, and shipping. Some styles may not be able to be resized: we’ll let you know before we complete your order. Check out our Resizing Policy for details.
What if there is a problem with my purchase?
Pearls International offers a free one-year warranty on every purchase. If there are any problems with the quality of the workmanship of your piece we’ll repair or replace it free of charge. If you damage a piece, we’ll repair it for you for a very reasonable fee plus shipping: we want you to enjoy your piece, not have it sitting in a box!
Can I take a ring to my local jeweler to have it resized?
You may opt to have your local jeweler resize your ring, however, if a piece has been altered in any way, we cannot accept a return or exchange and the one-year warranty becomes void.
How can I keep my jewelry looking beautiful?
Pearls are very easy to care for. With the right technique, your Pearls International jewelry will look amazing for generations. Pearls’ worst enemy is chlorine. Repeated exposure can weaken its structure, eventually leading to chipping. Try to keep your pearls away from chlorinated cleaning products, swimming pools and Jacuzzis. For maintenance cleaning, use lukewarm, soapy water. Rinse with clear water, then dry and polish with a soft cloth. Lay out flat to dry for at least 24 hours. For occasional deep cleaning, liquid cleaners such as ordinary household ammonia and products made especially for cleaning jewelry will not harm pearls unless specifically listed in the product instructions. Avoid cleaning pearls with abrasive products or cloths as these items will have a tendency to scratch or dull the pearls. Dipping your jewelry in a bath of ordinary household ammonia for about 30-45 seconds, followed by a light scrubbing with a soft tooth brush, then thoroughly rinsing in warm running water will remove built up dirt and oils and should return metal to its original color. Avoid rubbing plated materials with abrasive compounds or cloths as this will have the tendency to remove the plating. Tip: Put your pearls on after you have used your hair spray, not before. Hair spray can build up a sticky residue on your pearl jewelry and cause it to become dull. However, you can clean hairspray off of your pearls using the above method. If you want to be absolutely sure that the products you use won’t harm your pearls, we offer specially formulated Pearls International Pearl Juice and special polishing cloths that are guaranteed not to damage your pearls.
What is a Pearl Party?
A Pearl Party is a unique way to get free Pearls International jewelry. Host a party in your home or office — you provide the guests, we’ll bring the pearls!
What Pearl Perks are available?
Hostesses will receive 15% off their total purchase for qualifying parties, in addition to great hostess gifts and insider discounts!
How do I schedule a Pearl Party?
Call the Pearls International Pearl Girls at 386.767.3473 to schedule your Pearl Party today!
Are Pearl Parties offered in my hometown?
Currently, Pearl Parties are available only for locations in central Florida, but we are expanding! Check back often for updates!
What forms of payment do you accept?
Currently, we accept Master Card, Visa, American Express, and Discover Card. For all payment methods, you will be charged when you place your order. You can also send us a check: just call Customer Care at 386.767.3473 and we’ll place the order for you.
Do you accept Cashier’s Checks or Money Orders?
Yes, we accept cashier’s checks and money orders.
Do you charge sales tax?
Sales tax at six and one-half percent (6.5%) will be added to all orders originated in Florida. Orders originating in states other than Florida are taxed at zero percent (0%) if the order comes in via the telephone or the website.
Do you have layaway plans?
Yes, we do! Layaway is available by phone order or in-store purchase only. For an item to be placed on hold, we require a 20% down payment. Layaway items can be held for up to six months. For more information on our layaway policy, click here.
Is it safe to use my credit card on your site?
Is it safe to use my debit card online?
When is my credit card charged?
Your credit card will be charged when you place your order.
What are cookies? Do I need to enable cookies on my browser?
A cookie, also known as a web cookie, browser cookie, and HTTP cookie, is a piece of text stored by a user’s web browser. A cookie can be used for authentication, storing site preferences, shopping cart contents, the identifier for a server-based session, or anything else that can be accomplished through storing text data. You need to enable cookies to be able to add a specific product to cart and to checkout from there on.
Are you hiring?
Pearls International is always looking for new talent to add to our growing team! Check out our Careers page for more details.
If I have questions that are not covered in the FAQs, who may I contact?
For answers to other questions, feel free to call Customer Care at 386.767.3473 or email us at email@example.com!
Did you know…there are BLUE Pearls?
That’s right! The “Paua” pearl from New Zealand is bright blue!
“Paua” pearls or “abalone” pearls come from the gastropod mollusk, Haliotis. They have a natural iridescence that is rare and seems almost unnatural.
The New Zealand pearl comes in all shades of blue, but it also embodies all of the other colors of the sea – from the blue and green colors of the ocean, to the yellow, red, pink and purple colors of the sunrise and sunset.
Each individual pearl can also have a variety of colors!
The New Zealand Paua can create a beautiful pearl, but New Zealanders know that the meat of the Paua is also a tasty treat. Therefore, you can wear the pearl it produces, and indulge in the meat from the animal that created it!
In addition to its beautiful pearls and tastiness, the abalone has a variety of significant meanings.
Here are a few:
Paua shells are intimately connected to the sea and represent the tide of emotions;
They are connected to family and particularly motherhood;
They signify harmony in relationships; and
The play and variety of colors represent changes of beauty in existence
So you see the abalone does more than sit at the bottom of the sea, it feeds us, adorns us, and gives us meaning! Give them a try!