Tag: Cultured freshwater pearls

Tahitian Pearls

Choosing the Perfect Pearl – Your Guide to Making an Informed Decision.

While much of the process of choosing pearls is subjective, and depends on the wearer’s taste, there are a few questions to ask that will ensure that the pearls you choose will be of the highest quality. Just like diamonds have their “4C’s”, pearls have common properties that should be considered as you shop.

 Color

A pearl’s color is more a matter of personal taste than one of quality, but naturally colored pearls will typically weather trends and fads better than those that have been artificially dyed. Beware especially bright or garish pearls, as these are almost certainly the result of manmade color processes and the dye can be prone to fading or even wearing off onto skin or clothing. Strong colors may sometimes indicate a lower-quality pearl, as the dye may have been used to disguise unsightly color variations in the surface of the pearl.

Pearl Colors

Orient and Overtone

There are very small differences between orient and overtone. The orient of a pearl is the beautiful iridescent shimmer of color that spreads across its surface. Often, this causes a ‘rainbow’ effect on the surface of the pearl. This color is not the same as the color of the pearl itself, but the iridescence that may seem to dance and move across the pearl as you turn it. In contrast, the overtone of a pearl is the secondary impression of color from a pearl as it is viewed against a white background. For example, a black pearl may seem to have a subtle blush of green. This color, unlike the orient, does not shimmer, but may differ depending on which side of the pearl is viewed, due to the refraction of light within the pearl.

Examples of Overtone on a White Pearl

Overtone on White Pearl

Examples of Overtone on a Black Pearl

Overtone on Black Pearl

Black Pearls Displaying Excellent Orient

Black Pearls with Excellent Orient

Size

The larger the pearl, the longer it had to remain in the oyster’s shell, and as a result, these are usually more costly. Very large pearls are a rarity, due to the cost of producing them. Consider that the oysters must be kept healthy and safe from predators, parasites, and destruction of their natural habitat for several years while the pearl is allowed to form. Additionally, the extra time in the shell increases the likelihood of blemishes forming on the pearl as small imperfections in the nacre are magnified as they are coated. Flawless pearls of a large size will command very high prices.

Pearl Size

Surface

Surface indicates the perfection of the exterior of the pearl itself. Higher quality surfaces have very few marks, bumps, ripples, or blemishes, indicating that the oyster was very well cared-for during the cultivation process. Pearls that show little to no variation in their surfaces will typically cost more than those with a few marks here and there.

Pearl Surface

Regularity

Regularity refers to the shape of a pearl. The more spherical the pearl, the more regular it is said to be. No pearl is perfectly round, but some come close to being spherical. The best pearls are typically smooth and even. Do not pay for a pearl that is absolutely spherical and has no defining marks unless it is certified, as these are probably synthetic, and therefore of low value.

Pearl Regularity

Luster

A pearl’s luster, or shine, is determined by the layers of ‘nacre,’ the substance pearls are made of, that coats its central nucleus. Usually, more nacre results in higher luster. The surface curvature of a pearl can also have an effect on the luster, as light passes through the delicate outer layers and refracts off of the aragonite crystals in the pearl, giving the pearl its signature glow. This causes the highly desirable translucent appearance that very fine pearls display.

Pearl Luster

Authenticity

A genuine pearl will typically show minor variations in shape, color, and surface. Truly perfect pearls are rarely real, but may be simply convincing fakes. One way to test their authenticity (although this test can be fooled) is to gently rub the pearl on the edge of your tooth. Genuine pearls will feel very slightly gritty, due to their crystalline structure, while faux pearls and glass pearls will feel smooth and silky. The exception to this rule is composite, or “shell” pearls, which are created by grinding low-quality pearls into a powder and then reconstituting them using epoxy or acrylic. Due to their nacre content, these will feel gritty to the teeth, but since they are usually perfectly round, they are easy to spot and avoid.

Real vs Shell Pearl

Other fake pearl types to look out for:

  • Plastic: Ultra-shiny, easy to chip the paint. Very lightweight. Usually unknotted. Smooth to the tooth.
  • Glass: Higher quality, usually knotted in between and heavy. Look for paint flaking near the drill-holes. Smooth to the tooth.
  • Mallorca: A specific variety of glass pearl, very high quality and usually difficult to identify. The paint is very similar in luster to real pearls, but if on a strand, will be perfectly uniform. Smooth to the tooth.

Check out our post on Real vs. Faux pearls for more info on Authenticity!

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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.

Oysters

Oysters: The Threatened Species

(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.)

To continue with the green-theme, I found some thought provoking information concerning our favorite jewel-creating animal. Although this may not be completely about sustainability, it raises a lot of the same non-pollution motifs as far as sustainability is concerned.

In terms of the jewelry that requires the most effort put forth by human hands, pearls are at the top of the list. Since pearls are purely organic, the animal that makes a pearl, an oyster, must be provided for in order to produce a pearl. Recently, some species of oysters have been classified as a threatened species in the freshwater rivers of the United States.

There are several statuses offered to species that are facing rapid decline due to habitat encroachment, pollution, over-harvesting, and other factors. While the “threatened” and “endangered” statuses are very similar, a species belonging to the threatened status has a more promising population growth trend compared to an endangered species, and therefore the threatened species has a more likely chance of recovering.

The article Endangered Freshwater Mussel Species and Trade, written by the TED project, states the “primary cause for (the reduction in oyster population) is believed to be due to non-specific pollution from areas including: coastal, urban, agricultural, and industrial runoff into rivers and waterways”.  Since oysters are filter feeders that consume algae and microscopic organisms in the water, they are an important part of the aquatic habitat. Without oysters, an infestation of algae and microscopic organisms would lead to diseases within other species. Since oysters are so small and because of the way their systems operate, they are more vulnerable to toxins and ecological change than many other marine creatures.

Not only has modern pollution been a problem, but according to Alan P. Covich, in his paper titled Emerging Climate Change Impacts on Freshwater Resources: A Perspective on Transformed Watersheds, experts have pointed to the extremes in the variability of precipitation due to the temperature increase in many regions, which could cause floods and droughts. It was stated that “the main effects on freshwater resources are likely to consist of greatly increased uncertainty in maintaining sufficient local and regional supplies of high-quality water resources to meet demands for municipal, industrial, and agricultural needs while also sustaining natural ecosystem services.” It is theorized that global warming may alter regional hydrology and ecosystem capacities to supply reliable sources of high quality freshwater. The changes that have been documented are now considered long-term even though they may not be completely understood at the moment. It appears lake levels are declining across western basins, midwestern aquifers, and southeastern states.

Oysters are experiencing increasing danger due to the dire state of the environment. Without oysters, the pearl industry will cease to exist. Although we cannot prevent global climate change completely, we can all do our part by preventing pollution and conserving water for our aquatic friends. Next up in the ‘sustainability’ chapter: we all heard how terribly devasting the oil spill in the gulf was in 2010, but did you know who much harm it did for the oyster population?

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?’

 

 


5 Reasons We Like Pearls Better Than Diamonds

We here at Pearls International believe pearls are an excellent investment, not to mention more affordable than diamonds! Here are our top ­5 reasons to choose pearls over diamonds.

[dropcap2]1[/dropcap2]Although both gems are natural, pearls have the advantage over stones dug out of rocks. Pearls come out of an oyster ready to use in jewelry-perfectly polished by the sea; while diamonds must be cut, cleaned, and polished in order to be used for jewelry.

[dropcap2]2[/dropcap2]A high quality pearl is often cheaper than a high-quality diamond of the same shape and size-making pearls great for all ages (even those younger or not-so-careful wearers).

[dropcap2]3[/dropcap2]No two pearls are exactly alike, making them extremely unique, while diamonds can be identically faceted.

[dropcap2]4[/dropcap2]Pearls naturally come in a wider variety of colors than diamonds.

[dropcap2]5[/dropcap2]Pearls are a timeless treasures – enough said!

Next time you need that special gift for a special someone, think pearls!

 

Baroque Pearl Pendant with Wire Wrap

Pearl Spotlight: Baroque Pearls

Baroque pearls are a subcategory of pearls given their name due to their non-symmetrical shapes. They often have uneven surfaces with anywhere from minor to severe lumps, ridges, and curves. In today’s market, the more round a pearl is, the more valuable it is considered to be.  Consumers expect to pay more for a rounder pearl, and particularly for larger round pearls.  Therefore, most baroque pearls have been fairly inexpensive due to their “imperfections,” even in the larger sizes.  Baroque pearls, however, have become extremely popular in recent times due to their uniqueness and artistic allure, so we are seeing rising prices due to increased demand.  Now is the time to buy baroques!

Baroque Pearl Pendant with Swarovski Crystal

Baroque pearls are generally cultured freshwater pearls that are mantle-tissue nucleated, meaning a tiny piece of mantle tissue from one oyster is placed in another oyster to form the irritant which gets the pearl started. This is perhaps the closest humans have come to imitating nature in pearl cultivation because a pearl that forms in nature is usually started from some type of non-uniform organic debris that gets lodged inside an oyster.  The wild oyster makes itself more comfortable by coating the debris with nacre to make (usually) an irregular-shaped pearl!

The one-of-a-kind beauty that is seen in a baroque pearl can provide a great centerpiece for expensive and highly sought-after jewelry.  Their completely unique shapes are often used en solo or for the centerpiece of necklaces, earrings, and bracelets to show off their distinctive shapes.

Baroque pearls are often a favorite among pearl lovers due to their exclusive forms.  No two are remotely alike!  They are powerful enough to adorn formal wear, but can also be worn with casual outfits as an artistic piece without seeming overdressed.

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.
Fashion girls

5 Fashion Must Haves

Just like an LBD (little black dress) is a closet must-have for every lady, there are also some jewelry basics every woman must have stashed away for certain occasions. Jewelry boxes can fascinate and entertain women of all ages. Women love to accessorize and what better way than with something that glistens and shines!

  • Class Pearl Strand: An 18 inch pearl necklace is the perfect addition to any outfit. As the quintessential pearl accessory this is what most people think of when they hear “pearls.” Perfect for business casual, a night out on the town, or even with causal blue jeans.
  • Pearl Pendant:  A simple yet elegant pendant with a white pearl in the center of a sterling silver setting can be paired with V-necks, rounded collars, or even high necked tops for the chance to dress up or dress down.
  • Pearl stud earrings: A classic pair of white pearl stud earrings can be great for formal evenings or every day, and would complement any pearl necklace or pendant in white. For a more dressy spin on the classic white pearl studs, try our White Freshwater Pearl w/Swarovski Stud Earrings.
  • Long pearl necklace: A long necklace works well for any season.  With the ability to shorten or lengthen the length depending on individual body type, the 78″ Gunmetal Gray Freshwater Pearl Rope is a great addition with a fun and artsy way to display pearls. With endless ways to wear this necklace, friends and onlookers will see a new necklace every day!
  • Pearl dangle earrings: Another artsy way to display fashion sense, pearl dangle earrings can help put a more personalized feel when added with pearl pendants or necklaces.

Next time a shopping spree is needed, instead of adorning a closet with new shoes, purses, wallets, and dresses, try stopping into Pearls International to spice up that jewelry box! With new and ever-changing inventory, Pearl’s International always has the latest and greatest ways to help keep stylish accessories for every jewelry need!

Santa's Secrets

SANTA SPILLS HIS SECRETS! Pearls International sits down with the Merry Old Elf Himself.

PI: Thanks for being with us today. Haven’t seen you in a while. You probably don’t remember, but I sat on your lap at a mall once when I was seven.

Mr. Claus: I’m happy to be here. Hope you weren’t too disappointed by that lump of coal. Good thing your behavior has improved since then.

PI: Ahem. We’re excited to get to ask you a bit about your process. Would you consider what you do more of an art or a science?

Mr. Claus: A little of both, really. With most people it’s pretty cut and dried. They want a pony. Tickets to the Superbowl. Maybe a nice set of potholders. But then there are those few who get very difficult. They’re the ones who just go and buy what they want, instead of waiting for someone to gift it to them. With them, it’s more of an art form. You have to find something that really makes them stop and say “Wow!”

PI: Are you usually able to find just the right thing?

Mr. Claus: For a while there, it was touch and go. I had a few near misses, but I think I’ve finally got the right recipe.

PI: Care to share it with us mortals?

Mr. Claus:  Well, it’s generally very important to get just the right combination of unique and sparkly. If you get those proportions correct, things usually work out just fine. If you’re just a little bit off, though, you’re headed for disaster.

PI: What do you suggest as the best way to avoid a worst-case scenario?

Mr. Claus: As you know, I’ve stopped by your store a few times over the past couple of years. I’ve always managed to find something that will work. The best part is that I still have some cash leftover to buy presents for everybody else when I’m done. I’m always pleasantly surprised that I can get so much stuff for under $100.

PI: I thought the elves did most of the toy making. When did you start buying gifts?

Mr. Claus: The elves have been a bit preoccupied with Facebook lately, their work was a little lackluster. It seemed reasonable in this economy to support small businesses and buy American-made goods.

PI: Thanks. We appreciate that. What’s your best go-to gift from Pearls International?

Mr. Claus: I always shop the sales — the $10 earring sale you’re doing this week is great. I’d have to say I’ve had the most luck with some of your pendants, and an earring and necklace combo is always a pinch hit. I also like to give kids the Wish Pearl Gift Kit. It’s inexpensive and educational. It’s nice that you’re doing free gift wrap until Christmas, it saves me a lot of time.

PI: Great, I know what to get for my niece now. Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us! 

Mr. Claus: You’re very welcome. Now, if you don’t mind, I need to get back. If the reindeer don’t get walked, they tend to bite.

High Fashion Pearls

The Beyoncé Effect?

According to SmartMoney.com, this sluggish economy is not affecting consumers’ holiday wish lists, well… at least not the ladies’ lists! One study showed that jewelry ranks higher on holiday wish lists than laptops, smartphones, digital cameras or TV’s this year. Not to mention jewelry was the only category to grow more desirable since last year AND more and more women are saying they wouldn’t mind if he “put a ring on it” this holiday season!

We say forget that iPad or laptop that will be outdated next year, and buy something that will cherished for a lifetime. Women love jewelry, and no matter how much we own I think we can all agree it’s never too much! Pearls are timeless and versatile, how can you go wrong?

If  you are shopping for the earrings to complete that lustrous set, something that will someday become a family heirloom or you’re in the market for that ‘special’ ring, Pearls International is the place to visit! If you are in the Daytona Beach area stop in and see us or visit us online. Rest assured we will take care of all your holiday needs and make this Christmas something magical!