Tag: Consumer Goods and Services

Oysters covered in oil

Deepwater Horizon Spill of 2010 the Latest Threat to Oysters?

(This post is part of our blog series that deals with Pearls International’s take on social and environmental responsibility. For more information on how Pearls International gives back, please click here.)

Among other grisly repercussions of the great oil spill of 2010, (which came to be known as the “Deepwater Horizon Spill”), hundreds of fragile oyster beds that thrived in the area have been severely disrupted.  Why is this a problem?  Simply put, oysters are a filter animal and are a natural and necessary part of the filtering that is required for the environments of our oceans, lakes and rivers.  The talented animals can clean water like a pool vacuum cleans a pool.  Filtering organic materials is their business – but understandably, the Deepwater Horizon Spill has proved too much for many of the oysters along the Gulf.

The damages to the Gulf oyster beds have threatened not only the oysters themselves, but myriad of businesses based on the oyster trade.  The oldest oyster shucking operation in the United States, P&J Oyster Company of New Orleans was extremely impaired by the spill.  It reported that the company still has not resumed shucking its own oysters after the spill, and the overall business is still only at 35 percent of original production figures.

That same year, Governor Bobby Jindall ordered freshwater to be pumped into the Mississippi river in order to try to flush out the oil that had seeped in. Though the freshwater pumping may have helped on some levels, the over-abundance of fresh water also adversely affected the oyster beds, because a subtle mixture of brackish water, both saltwater and fresh, is needed for the fragile oysters to thrive.

Dr. Tom Soniat,  for over ten years a full-time Biology professor at Nicholls University and mussel specialist, stated that “the mortality rate [in the area] was up to 98 percent in some oyster beds.”  At a 2 percent survival rate, this kind of depletion could quickly cause oysters to join the endangered species list.  In addition, many other polluted areas which once supported thriving oyster beds are no longer producing at all.

Oily OystersEven though man-made problems can have a devastating effect on our oyster beds, man-made solutions may also help to mitigate the damages.  Through thoughtful reef management, the oyster beds can improve and begin to thrive.  One of the sustainable practices that helps to support the oyster growth is to plant “cultch.”

Cultch is nothing more than a mass of shells, pebbles and gravel.  It is spread along on the bottom of the oyster habitat and provides a floor of sorts to which an oyster may attach itself with its tiny weed-like foot.   It is a starting place for oysters to group together for protection and support and begin to form a colony.

Emily Bryce of The New York Times found that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife has an oyster cultch project in six large oyster habitats across Louisiana. She reports that “by simultaneously building hatcheries where oyster larvae are cultivated, the state  hopes to seed the new reefs with generations of oysters that will build new fortresses.”

There is a silver lining to the Deepwater Horizon Spill – the increased environmental awareness in the Gulf area and knowledge of the obstacles the region faces has skyrocketed since the Spill, and has sent hundreds of agencies to the rescue, learning as they go, how to return to and keep the waters in their original state. That is a big win for our friends, the oysters.

Check out this blog over at HuffPo about other animals that have yet to recover from the spill.

See: Source: Bryce, Emily. A Multitude of Oysters? Looks Can Be Deceiving. The New York Times. 25 October, 2012.

Beautiful Coral Reef under Threat

Our Oceans Are Depending On Us.

(This post is part of our blog series that deals with Pearls International’s take on social and environmental responsibility. For more information on how Pearls International gives back, please click here.)

WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE,
BUT OUR OCEANS NEED YOUR HELP.

This is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. We are polluting our oceans, killing off our sea-life and obstructing our very own eco-system. We must make changes. It won’t be long before this planet is taken over by…PLASTIC! This plastic over-pollution issue is a sign of over consumption and we need to bring it to an end, and I believe this is possible simply through awareness. If we can make everyone AWARE of the horrendous consequences of their actions, wouldn’t it only be right to change our actions to create positive consequences?  Before I continue my rant, I’d like to share a few eye-opening  statistics and it is then that I feel you will better grasp the severity of this issue.

Did you know:

  • Ocean pollution affects at least 267 species worldwide, including 86% of sea turtle species, 44% of all sea bird species, and 43% of marine mammal species.
  • 60,000 plastic bags are discarded in the US every 5 seconds
  • 1 million plastic cups are used just on airline flights in the US every 6 hours
  • 2 million plastic beverage bottles are used in the US every 5 minutes

saveourshores.org

If that isn’t enough to make want to stop using plastic products forever, what about our helpless marine life? These little guys depend on us to keep their environment clean and safe but we are doing exactly the opposite. We are turning their sanctuaries into deadly trash ridden dump sites in the middle of the ocean!

These are just a few things our sea creatures are having to battle, daily.

Ingestion: Many birds mistake pieces of plastic for tiny fish. Once the birds ingest the plastic their bodies are unable to digest it. Because the plastic does not get digestion, the bird feels full eventually resulting in malnutrition.

Suffocation: Animals will make the mistake of thinking that six-pack holder and plastic bag you left behind on the beach is their dinner. Once the plastic is ingested the plastic blocks airways resulting in suffocation or inhibiting its growth patterns. A sea turtles favorite meal is jellyfish…often plastic bags look just like this tasty treat. Lucky for the jellyfish, but poor turtles!

Entanglement: This most often is a result from fishing line and plastic material left from 6-packs. Once the animal become entangled their breathing is restricted along with their ability to eat and swim.

What about us? This over consumption of plastic affects us too!

Plastic is made of petroleum which would be oil or natural gas, but plastic also consists of harmful checmicals not found on labels. Time to expose these bad boys.

First, we have Phthalates: chemicals used to create soft and flexible plastics that are commonly used in the in food and construction industries, as well as in beauty products, pesticides, wood finishes, insect repellents, and solvents. Studies have found abnormal male sexual development, infertility, premature breast development, cancer, miscarriage, premature birth and asthma all associated with exposure to phthalates (saveourshores.org).

Second, there is  Bisphenol-A (BPA) is the chemical name for polycarbonate plastics, found in everything from 5-gallon water jugs, baby bottles, and the lining in many cans of food, including baby formula. Studies of Bisphenol-A show it is an estrogen disrupter with the ability to migrate into liquids and foods that it comes into contact with (Earth Resource, 2000). Numerous studies have found unsafe levels of BPA in children, adults, baby bottles, water bottles, teethers, baby formula, and other common household items.

Plastic more than likely isn’t going to disappear (anytime soon), but by bringing awareness to the catastrophic effects it has on our Planet I hope the next time you go grocery shopping you remember to bring your own bag and say “No Thanks” to plastic!

Even our decisions on what jewelry we wear is effecting mother earth!  One eco-friendly option we suggest… PEARLS! The pearl industry is proud to say that they are more eco-friendly than your typical mined gem. Pearl farmers are working harder than ever to constantly find new ways to make the pearl farming industry more eco- friendly. Ultimately, to keep this precious gem on the market without destroying nature. Although pearls are not mined,  that does not mean pearl farming is 100% harmless. Aquaculture can damage the environment from the use of high-powered hoses that are used to clean the oysters. Solution? Pearl farmers are using tropical fish to clean the oysters (saveourshores.org)! Resources, lets use all of our resources! Stay tuned for our next installment in the sustainability project to find out, ‘Are pearls threatened?’

 

 


Making Music from Lovely Shells

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We’re all familiar with the traditional watch face made of mother of pearl, but did you know that many musical instruments contain mother of pearl? It is very common to see the nacre inlay, or the lining of an oyster’s shell, included in instruments like pianos, guitars, accordions, violins, cellos, accordions, and trumpets. The use of mother of pearl in instruments has no other meaning than to show wealth of the owner.

Mother of Pearl Piano Keys

To trace the piano back, ivory was the predominant material used for key coverings, however due to many ivory bearing animals becoming extinct or dangerous to hunt, ivory was faded out and in came more easily sought materials like mother of pearl, bone, porcelain, silver, ebony,  and cedar.

Piano Francis Scott Key

A famous piano made by Knabe and Gaehle was an important part of history when Francis Scott Key composed “The Star Spangled Banner” in 1838. This exquisite hand carved piano had four rosewood sides, and each white key was surfaced with expensive mother of pearl.

John Lennon Guitar

Epiphone Casino, a popular guitar brand used by all three members of The Beatles early on was used to write songs like “Ticket to Ride,” Taxman,”  “Drive My Car,” and many others. Later in their career, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison all got customized Casino guitars of their own. In the picture shown, mother of pearl inlay can be clearly seen in the fret marks below the strings.

Who would have thought that mother of pearl could be used for more than just jewelry?

http://www.shafferpianos.com/hawkey/

It’s Recycling Time!

(This post is part of our blog series that deals with Pearls International’s take on social and environmental responsibility. For more information on how Pearls International gives back, please click here.)

Pearls International is happy to introduce our new recycling program. This summer we are making an effort to be more environmentally-friendly. We now have two big recycling bins located at the back of our store and we’re ready to start this mission! Recycling cans, plastic, cardboard, paper, and other eco-friendly materials is a great way to help the earth become more beautiful, and beautiful is definitely something we appreciate around here!

Like many people, recycling often gets pushed to the bottom of our “to-do” list, but we felt the urge to make a change for the better. By creating this new recycling program, we hope our customers follow in our footsteps and find their own ways to be kind to the planet.

                                                                                   Recycle logo

Recycling is easy! Just call your local waste-management facility to get started, then set aside a separate bin for recyclables and you’re good to go! Our new recycling program is the first step to making Pearls International more green. We hope you take the initiative to do the same.

Pearls International strives to embrace greener business practices. To read more about how we hope to give back to our planet, please click here

The House a Necklace Bought

In my search for unique pearls, I came across an inspiring story about the origins of the famous Cartier building in New York City. The story is told that in 1915 Louis Cartier made history with the first natural, double-stranded Oriental pearl necklace costing $1.2 million ($16 million today). This necklace was placed on exhibition all over the world including Paris, London, and New York City. In the fall of 1916, the necklace’s appearance in New York reportedly caused a huge uproar with women from all over coming to admire them. Among these ladies was Mae “Maisie” Plant. At the time Cartier’s New York Salon was on the second floor of a small building in an inconspicuous part of town. Coincidently, Maisie had just placed her $1.2 million mansion up for sale. Knowing she wanted to sell her mansion anyway, Maisie approached Cartier and proposed a trade…the mansion for the pearl necklace. Surprisingly, Cartier accepted. Ever since that exchange, the Cartier firm has been located in the former Plant mansion and has come to be a great landmark for tourists in New York City.

Cartier

Regrettably, things did not go as well for Maisie as with Cartier. Seeing how she didn’t anticipate the depression, war, or the introduction of cultured pearls her necklace did not end up being an even trade. Maisie died in 1956 and in 1957, her $1.2 million necklace was sold at auction for a mere $170,000; the current value of the Fifth Avenue mansion I’ll leave to your imagination. More recently, in 2004, a similar natural, double-strand pearl necklace sold at Christie’s for $3.1 million. Because only one gem-quality pearl is uncovered from every 25,000 wild oysters found in the ocean, these pearls are considered the rarest in the world today. If only Plants’ heirs had held on to her necklace for a few more decades, they could have sold Maisie’s pearls for much more!

Maisie Plant and her fabulous double strand of natural pearls from Cartier.
Maisie Plant and her fabulous double strand of natural pearls from Cartier.
Pearls for Men

Pearls: The Final Frontier in Men’s Fashion?

Did you know the fetish for pearls goes as far back as 520 BC, when the oldest known pearl jewelry was buried with the sarcophagus of a Persian princess?

We were inspired about the history of pearls, and in our travels, we came across a great article over at www.howtobeswell.com. The article made it clear that pearls on men can be totally sexy and would make a great gift for your best guy!

Pearls have a long and storied history, but we think the most interesting thing about pearl fashion is that until very recently, pearls were worn by men as often as they were worn by women!

There was nothing effeminate about the men who wore these pearls. They were the handsome, rich, and powerful leaders of their times, and the pearls they wore only served to underline their influence in their societies. The wealthier you were, the more pearls you could afford. A man wearing ropes and ropes of pearls would have turned heads everywhere he went!

Men didn’t go small with their pearl jewelry, either!  The trend was “more is more” and old portraits show dashing gents simply dripping with the gorgeous jewels. The multiple strand look has proved to be timeless, as you can see even today in the lovely layered look you find on (women’s) fashion runways the world over.

Pearls were prized by men of nearly every major culture, and historians have found evidence of the use of pearls as adornment from places as varied as Britain, China, Greece, and India.

 

Prince Rana of Dholp
Prince Rana of Dholp: Doing his best to wear as many pearls as possible across his manly muscly chest.
Crown of Henry VII
Recreation of the crown of Henry VIII of England: This guy was the manly-man of his age. No sissy stuff here!
Prince Charles of Wales
Prince Charles of Wales knew how to rock a masculine pair of pearl earrings!
Pearl Merman
This manly merman is made of pearls!

Modern pearl jewelry for men focuses more on increasing the masculinity of the setting the pearl lives in. Leather, chunky metal, and inlay often make an appearance in today’s jewelry. It’s a great balance between the soft satin look of the pearl and the harder edge that today’s men’s fashions require. Pearls easily go from trendy to finely elegant, as seen in these examples:

Men's Pearls
Whoa, studmuffin alert! Look at that pearl! This picture says it all for the man that may be new to wearing pearls. Seriously guys, pearls look hot on you!
Pearls for Men
Wowza! Those pearl cufflinks, rings, and necklaces would make us melt (It might just be his razor-sharp jawline)!
Steven Tyler Pearls
Trend-setting the Steven Tyler way. If Steven can look good in pearls anybody can! We daresay he looks fantastic sporting multiple layers of rugged pearls on leather rope.
Pearl Cufflinks
Pearls have always been a symbol of wealth and prestige. The only factor that has changed is the fashion trend and how we wear them today.

Pearls for every man and every look is the trend for this holiday season.  Timeless, classic, elegant, trendy and sexy.  For the man that has everything, give him a set of pearls!

Since we think it’s important to start teaching “real men” to wear pearls when they are REALLY CUTE LITTLE BOYS, we leave you with this adorable little tyke, rocking the pearl look!

Little boy with pearl

 

Gorgeous Pearls

We want your opinion on the NEW AND IMPROVED Pearls International!

Howdy there!

If you’re looking around today, you’ve probably noticed that there have been quite a few changes at Pearls International! That’s because we’ve completely overhauled the way this website looks and functions in order to give our customers the very best online shopping experience.

Here are a few of the cool new features:

Better security.

Our customers’ security and privacy online is of the utmost importance. Our new site provides even better protection for your personal information during online transactions. We are committed to protecting your information to the greatest degree possible. When you shop online at Pearls International, you can be absolutely your information is safe and secure. Check out our Privacy Policy for more information!

User-Friendly Menus and Search.

Our new drop-down menus make it easier than ever to find the products you’re looking for! Simply select the appropriate category and you can navigate to any type of product we sell. You can also choose to view all of the products we carry by clicking the Shop Now button!

Simple Sharing and Syndication.

You can now share content from anywhere on the site, using the handy buttons located next to the search box at the top of each page. Want to subscribe to the content on our site? The RSS button makes it easy! For all you Pinterest addicts, you’ll now find a “Pin It” button at the bottom of each product page!

Mobile Support.

Get your Pearl Fix on the go with our new mobile functionality! You can view Pearls International on both iPhone and Android platforms and the responsive layout will adjust to any screen size.

Comprehensive Content.

Our customers asked for more information about pearls, and we have delivered! At the bottom of each page, you’ll now find plenty of resources for the Pearl Addict and Novice alike! Check out our Pearl Library and Pearl Buying Guide for helpful tips and information!

Let us know what your favorite part of our redesign is, and you’ll be entered to win our monthly prize drawing! Be sure to leave your contact info so we can let you know if you win!

Inserting the irritant between the oyster's shells

Pearly Whirly Pearl Fact – How Are Pearls Made?

Contrary to popular belief, pearls do not come from a grain of sand! Often, it is depicted that pearl formation is due to a grain of sand that has made its way into the oyster. This is hardly ever true. Formation is due to the intrusion of an outside substance that is organic in nature.  The invasion can be the result of an injury or an intruding parasite, kind of like a splinter to the oyster. The oyster’s natural reaction is to cover up that irritant to protect itself. It covers the irritant with layers of the same nacre substance that is used to create the shell. Nacre, a calcium carbonate substance, is very similar to the main ingredient in antacid tablets like TUMS. This material is combined with special proteins to create nacre. As layer upon layer of nacre coats the irritant, a pearl is formed! Light that is reflected from these overlapping layers produces a pearl’s characteristic iridescent luster.

Cultured pearls are created with the same process as natural pearls, but are given a slight nudge by pearl harvesters. To create a cultured pearl, the harvester opens the oyster’s shell and makes a small incision in the mantle tissue. Small irritants can then be inserted under the mantle. In freshwater cultured pearls, cutting the mantle is enough to induce the nacre secretion that produces a pearl, whereas in saltwater cultured pearls, an irritant has to be inserted to induce nacre secretion.

This Season, it’s Pearls!

When it comes to our jewels, we all have our ‘everyday goes with everything’ category, our ‘night out on the town ’ category, and then there’s the pieces that  should be getting much more attention than they are. Instead, they are hidden in the back of our closet! So, how do we fix this? Either dig out grandma’s pearls from the back of your closet or it’s time to go shopping and find yourself some pearls to call your own!

Let us help…

Pearls are timeless, they can be casual, dressy or fabulously elegant!

For starters:

Not all pearls are white.

Not all pearls are round.

Not all pearls are expensive.

We forgot to mention, when we talk about pearls we are referring to gorgeous genuine pearls from Pearls International!So, what’s “in” for the Spring/Summer of 2012? Pastel pearls! These colors can vary from different shades of pink and peach all the way to a sea-blue/green and our personal favorite, gunmetal grey.

We’ve provided examples of great versatile necklaces right out of our shop that will look amazing this season and quite honestly, for generations to come.

Multicolor 6-6.5mm round pearl rope, no clasp, 64 inch length. Color grades from white through various shades of gray to pink to gray to white.

This necklace begins with white genuine freshwater pearls and gradullly deepens to a lustrous lilac.Each pearl has been hand selected, matched and knotted. Sixty-four inches of ombre pearl perfection!

Rare Conch Pearl Necklace

Today during our routine web-surfing procrastination efforts, we stumbled upon a truly one-of-a-kind necklace that’s worth $1,118,500. In this economy, you’d better be making the big bucks to afford to purchase anything this exquisite!

The craziest thing about this necklace is that it is made from pearls that have been produced by the conch. A conch! Can you believe it? That’s right, that cone-shaped shell actually produces pearls (Well, sorta. Conch pearls aren’t technically pearls, but that’s a story for another post)! At any rate, the next time you are chowing down on conch fritters, make sure to chew carefully, you just might be eating a fortune!

We can’t get over the cool flame-like patterns on the surface of these treasures. The colors in this piece are perfect for the spring, they look like sweet little candies in yummy strawberry, peach, and lemon!

These pearls are said to be as rare as 1 in 10, 000. Can you imagine finding a pearl in a conch, worth $30,000? View this crazy-cool creation here.