Tag: jewelry

Record Breaking Jewelry!

People have a tendency to want to race to be the best. It’s amazing how many of us have an innate desire to be the best at something…even if it seems trivial or unusual. This isn’t always a bad thing, though! A little competition never hurts, so long as everyone is civil and respectful about it. And we really love when people get competitive over jewelry – the results are dazzle-blinding, amazing, and often nothing short of jaw-dropping.

The Guinness Book of World Records can turn up some pretty cool records when you do a search for “jewelry” on their website. We’ve picked our favorites to share with you!

4. The world’s largest carved sapphire.

The World's Largest Carved Sapphire

Weighing in at over 35 lbs, this is one huge gemstone. It is a whopping 80,500 carats and displays blue, gold, and grey all within the surface of the stone.

3. Largest collection of earrings.

If you thought your jewelry box was overflowing, you should see Carol McFadden’s. She has been collecting earrings since 1952, and is up to 37,706 different pairs. Actually, we would like to see it – there aren’t any pictures available. It would probably be too difficult to get that many pairs of earrings into frame, though.

2. World’s longest hand made gold chain.

The world's largest gold chain, created in Dubia out of 24k gold.

The longest gold chain was created for the Dubai Shopping Festival’s 20th anniversary by the Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group. It was handcrafted from 24k gold, and the final product measured a stunning 5km (that’s over 3 miles!) long. Creating this record-breaker was no small feat, and it took quite a large team of goldsmiths to make it happen. In fact, 100 craftsmen worked on this piece for over 45 days. Attendees at the festival were able to buy sections of the chain and own their own piece of history. How cool!

1. Most diamonds set in one ring.

The record-holding ring for most diamonds in one setting.

The stunning “Peacock Ring,” designed by Savio Jewellery in 2015, consists of 3,827 diamonds with a combined carat weight of 16.5. Its’ value has been estimated at $2,744,525.

What’s really cool about this is that the designers didn’t just cram as many diamonds as possible into a design just to beat a record. They actually designed a statement piece that is elegant and beautifully crafted, to complement the use of so many diamonds.

 

Does this post give you an itch to set your own jewelry record? Why not consult with our custom design specialist on creating your own one-of-a-kind masterpiece? 

If you found this blog interesting, check out these posts as well:

The House a Necklace Bought

Creepy or Cool? The World’s Largest Pearls.

Jewelry Trends From the Oscars!

oscars-2016

The 2016 Oscars was held on February 28th and it was a really fun year for #oscarsjewelry trends! In case you missed it, check out Indesign.Jewelry’s post on this year’s trends. We were especially excited about Trend #1! 😉

Here are some of our favorite pieces from this years ceremony!

 

 

Brie Larson looking drop-dead gorgeous! Check out that absolutely stunning pearl studded belt!
Brie Larson looking drop-dead gorgeous! Check out that absolutely stunning pearl studded belt!

 

Left: The lovely Whoopi Goldberg wearing an amazing statement bracelet! The octopus bracelet she is wearing and the bracelet pictured on the right were designed by Sevan Bicakci.
Left: The lovely Whoopi Goldberg wearing an amazing statement bracelet! The octopus bracelet she is wearing and the bracelet pictured on the right were designed by Sevan Bicakci.

 

Tina Fey wearing a stunning Bulgari sapphire necklace. She seemed to be one of the few ladies sporting colored gemstones instead of white gold and diamonds, and we're definitely into it!
Tina Fey wearing a stunning Bulgari sapphire necklace. She seemed to be one of the few ladies sporting colored gemstones instead of white gold and diamonds, and we’re definitely into it!

 


 

What were some of your favorite looks? Tell us in the comments!

Introducing… Ariki Paua Shell Jewelry!

Ariki Paua Shells

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!

Watch Us Take This Ring from Concept to Concrete in Just a Few Quick Steps

If you’ve been dreaming of the perfect piece, but everything you’ve seen just doesn’t quite make your heart race, consider having your jewelry custom designed! Pearls International can take your wildest ideas from dream to reality in just a few short steps. Email or call us at 386.767.3473 to find out more! 

I got married last October. When my husband-to-be, Josh, popped the question, to say he was feeling nervous about the ring was a bit of an understatement. When you’ve got a dad in the jewelry business and you’ve grown up looking at gorgeous jewels your whole life, it really puts a lot of pressure on the lucky guy who steals your heart (Dad, if you’re reading this, you know you’ll always be my first love!).

I really can’t even imagine what might have been going through my poor guy’s head when he started considering the options, but Josh is acutely aware of how discerning (picky), tasteful (picky), and stylish (picky) I like to be when it comes to my jewelry. My friends will tell you about many times they have come to my house to find me lounging around wearing my pajamas, fuzzy socks, uncombed hair…and every piece of jewelry I own.

Josh is a very logical person. He’s the kind of person that researches small decisions for weeks before making the most logical choice. Getting married was one of the biggest decisions of his life, and he didn’t want to blow it. Josh made the logical choice. He decided to use a Stunt Ring.

Temporary Engagement Ring
Simple, and simply beautiful.

If you’ve never heard of it, a Stunt Ring is a time honored tradition for guys who have the good fortune (misfortune?) of falling in love with picky ladies. It’s used as a stand-in for the proposal so that the guy still has the opportunity to give his sweetie the surprise of her life. Usually, it’s a very simple temporary band and setting that can be exchanged later for a piece that is sized to her finger and suited to her needs. It’s the perfect way to surprise her, while still ensuring she gets the setting she loves. Remember, this ring will be on her finger for the rest of her life, so it needs to be just right. Plus, you never want to wonder if she’d rather have something different. After it has served its purpose, the stunt ring can be returned or made into another piece of everyday jewelry.

Little did he know, I’m so crazy about him I probably would have said yes to a ring made of a gum wrapper, but I got the best guy on the planet, and he really spoils me. After I stopped jumping up and down and calling all of my friends to relay the good news, I embarked on a journey of creativity. Like a lot of women, I had a specific idea of the kinds of jewelry that suited my tastes, flattered my style, and looked good with my everyday outfits. I began to collect photos of rings I liked, with the goal of merging all of the styles I liked into one finished piece. My burgeoning Pinterest inspiration board at one point had over 250 photos before I began to focus my ideas into something more coherent.

Ring Design Ideas
A few of the styles I considered before settling on a final design. Does one look familiar?

The custom design process is an amazing blend of traditional craftsmanship with modern technology. After roughing out a design on paper, we transfer the concept to a digital format. Using a program like Photoshop, we take all of the photos, sketches, and ideas, and begin to create a ring that looks a bit like Frankenstein’s monster. At this point in the custom design process, a lot of people want to run screaming for the hills. A little perseverance pays off though!


 

Sophie's Final Ring Plan
My ring in its “Frankenstein” phase. I ended up not having a wedding band, since the engagement ring itself was so ornate. I used elements from lots of rings I had seen and liked, but none of them had everything I wanted.

Once your idea has been fleshed out to this point, the next step is to take the drawings into a computer aided drafting software. We use a software called Matrix. Matrix gives us a lot of flexibility when it comes to design. Just take a look at the way this ring came to life in 3D!

Dazzling Rough
The crown of the ring begins to take shape.
Dazzling Rough 2
Adding in the details.
Dazzling Rough 3
Looking like a ring now!
Dazzling Finished
Putting on the final touches.
Dazzling Done through
Front View
Dazzling Done angle
Angle View
Dazzling done side
Side view
Dazzling Done!
Top view

 

 

 

 

What’s great about digital design is that you can see EXACTLY what the final ring will look like, no question. The photos to the left show the final digital models of my ring, and except for the prongs around the crown, which smooth out slightly when the stones are set, the ring on my finger is absolutely identical to these photos.

At this point in the design process, we have a really good idea of the dimensions of the final ring, so we can begin planning out what kind of stones we will need (of course using a digital process also allows us to create a piece especially for a stone of a certain size).

The accent stones on this ring are diamond, while the stones at the crown are topaz, a stone that I have always loved because of its vintage, watery look. My dad is a fourth generation stonecutter, so he began by selecting just the right rough stones from his extensive collection. Each stone was carefully checked for color and clarity. He then hand cut and polished each stone so that they would perfectly complement the setting. While it isn’t visible in the photos, he even made the top facet, or table, of the center stone the same shape as the crown of the ring. It’s amazing how much thought goes in to such a small thing, but around here, we really focus on the details so that everything comes out just right.

Topaz ready to be cut
Topaz ready to be cut.

Meanwhile, the digital version of the ring was being converted into a wax model. The process for this is truly a marvel of modern technology, as the wax models are actually made by a state-of-the-art high definition 3D printer. This is the best way to ensure that all of the small details appear in the final setting. The delicate model is carefully checked against the digital version for any discrepancies that could cause problems in the final copy.

Once they are cleared for production, the wax models are encased in plaster, which is vacuumed to remove any air bubbles, and then allowed to harden to create a plaster mold. The plaster is subjected to high heat in order to melt and burn the wax out of the mold. Once the wax is gone, it leaves a perfect impression where the wax ring once was. We then inject molten silver into this void to create a ‘dummy setting’ that can be tried on and checked for sizing.

When we are sure that the size of the ring is correct and we are completely happy with the shapes, forms, stones, and everything else, we will print an identical wax model and go through the same process, this time with the final metal (in this case 14k yellow gold). Here’s a photo of the wax model, the Sterling silver ‘dummy’, and the final ring, side by side:

Custom 14k Yellow Gold Ring with Topaz and Diamond
Custom Design at Pearls International

Once the final setting has been created, we can carefully set the finished stones by hand and polish the ring to a high shine. This blend of traditional skill with modern techniques results in some of the most spectacular designs I’ve ever seen.

This was the moment I had been waiting for, and it was absolutely worth the wait! Josh gave me my new ring on Valentine’s Day (they didn’t let me see it ahead of time, so it was a big surprise!) and we are both absolutely thrilled with it! I love that it has such a wonderful heritage of being so lovingly made by my dad, and Josh loves that I’m so happy with it. He’s also really pleased to have a piece of jewelry that we can one day pass down to our future children, along with the story of how it was made by their grandfather. What a great thing!

Dazzler1

unnamed-1unnamed

 

This process may look pretty complicated, but it’s actually a lot of fun. Do you have an idea you’d love to bring to life? Come talk to us about it! We can reimagine your old jewelry, take a loose stone and make it into a useful piece of jewelry, or even make something unique from scratch! Your imagination is the limit, and there’s no end to the possibilities. Talk to a Pearl Girl about your custom creation today! 

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Broken Jewelry

Eight Proven Ways to Wreck Your Jewelry for Good.

Maybe you’ve just never liked that necklace you inherited from crazy great Aunt Mabel, or perhaps you’re an evil super villain on a mission to destroy beauty everywhere. Either way, here are eight ways to ruin your jewelry once and for all.

Wait a minute, what did I just read?!?!

Ok, so maybe you’re not a super villain and maybe you actually really loved Aunt Mabel’s necklace, but you’re just not that great about caring for your jewelry and now it’s broken, and you’re not really sure what to do about it. That’s ok! Most broken jewelry can be repaired, and the good news is that it’s usually less expensive than having to purchase a brand new piece!

Scratched and scuffed metals can be polished, dull stones can be re-faceted, broken prongs can be repaired, and broken, knotted chains are really no big deal. We see them all the time here and we can almost guarantee that the most embarrassing thing you’ve done to ruin your jewelry probably won’t come close to the stories we’ve heard over sixty years of service in the jewelry industry.

If you’re still dead set on total jewelry annihilation, here are some great tips to get you started!

[dropcap2]1.[/dropcap2] Sleep in it.

Your jewelry will be screaming for mercy after being smushed, twisted, and wrapped around the bedsheets for nights on end.

[dropcap2]2.[/dropcap2] Wear it in the swimming pool.

The acidic chlorine will take care of it quickly. Go swimming every day and get the satisfaction of watching your jewelry slowly dissolve before your very eyes!

[dropcap2]3.[/dropcap2] Find the nearest howling toddler and let them play dress-up!

Kids are great at breaking things.

[dropcap2]4.[/dropcap2] Travel, and leave your jewelry in a jumble at the bottom of your suitcase. Let the baggage handlers do the rest.

You’ll inevitably end up with some spectacular knots in all of your chains.

[dropcap2]5.[/dropcap2] Never, ever, ever clean it.

Body oils, perfumes, hairspray, makeup, lotions, and the chemicals you come in contact with on a daily basis will gradually corrode the surface of your jewelry, eventually destroying its good looks. Not to mention all that gunk building up behind the stones makes them WAY less sparkly!

[dropcap2]6.[/dropcap2] Wear it while gardening, mountain climbing, windsurfing, filming your latest action movie, and fixing your car. 

After giving it a few good whacks against a hard surface (make sure to reeeeeallly scratch it back and forth to achieve full effect!), don’t have the prongs checked. With any luck, some of your stones will fall out!

[dropcap2]7.[/dropcap2] Store it in direct sunlight. In fact, just store it on the surface of the sun.

Sunlight is one of the worst culprits when it comes to metal tarnish and fading in colored stones. Direct sunlight will have it looking terrible in a jiffy.

[dropcap2]8.[/dropcap2] Wear it in the shower!

Even if the buildup of shampoo and soap scum doesn’t screw it up, you’ll probably still lose it down the drain. Problem solved!

Changed your mind? Bring your broken jewelry in to Pearls International Jewelers today!

 

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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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How Can I Tell if My Pearls are Real? Ten Quick Tips.

Pearls International only carries genuine cultured freshwater and saltwater pearls, but with so many convincing fakes on the market, how can you tell if the pearls you got somewhere else are the genuine article?

Today recently broke a story about dishonest salesmen in destination spots like Cozumel who duped their customers into purchasing jewelry that wasn’t real. We wanted to take a moment to help educate our customers and readers about how you can avoid scams like this on your vacation and protect yourself from people who don’t have your best interests in mind.

First, always ask for recommendations at your hotel or with a local resident you trust. Most people aren’t going to shop at a jeweler who is hidden down some dark alleyway, but it’s always a good idea to be smart about where you spend your money.

Satisfaction Guarantee SealSecond, ask about their return policy. If you get home to discover that an item you thought was gold instead turned out to be gold plate, at least you’ll know how to get your money back. Pearls International offers a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee with easy returns and exchanges. If you ever purchase the wrong size or color with us, we’ll happily and enthusiastically make it right.

So what if you’ve already made a purchase, and you’re wondering whether you got your money’s worth? Or maybe you’ve inherited some jewelry and you’re thinking of selling it, but don’t want to risk taking it to a pawn shop or a gold-buyer without knowing what it’s worth?


It’s always a good idea to have a jeweler you trust take a look at a new piece to validate its authenticity. At Pearls International, we’ll even give you a free jeweler’s loupe that you can use to look at the metal hallmarks in your jewelry, and they’re also very useful for doing annual checks on prongs to prevent your stones from getting lost!

If you don’t have time to bring your jewelry to an expert, there are several things you can do at home to find out if your pearls are real.

Are my pearls real? Ten things to look for:

Tip: It’s best to start with a clean strand so you can identify small details that might be missed due to a buildup of oils or perfumes on the surface of your pearls. If you need to find out how to clean your pearls, check out this tutorial or use our specially created pearl-safe cleaner.

Pearl Juice
Normal gold and silver cleaners are acidic and can damage your pearls. Use a pearl-friendly cleaner like our Pearl Juice to avoid damaging your pearls. It is best to start with a clean strand when determining if your pearls are the real deal.

[dropcap2]1[/dropcap2]Real pearls are heavier than fake pearls. Imagine you are holding a strand of little pebbles. Would your strand be about the same weight? If not, you might be holding some pearl impostors. The nacre that makes up the layers of a real pearl is very dense, so it will weigh quite a bit more than plastic or resin, two common materials used in many fake pearls. Beware! Some materials such as glass and composite, or ‘shell’ pearls (pearls made from crushed and reconstituted shell) may fool this test.

[dropcap2]2[/dropcap2]If your pearls are heavy, but you still suspect they may be false, chipped or cracking paint is a sure sign that your pearls are fakes. To find it, look carefully between two pearls at a drill hole. If you notice any paint is missing, or if the material from inside the pearl formed a ‘burr’ when the pearl was drilled, your pearls are probably fake. Real pearls will have a drill hole that is quite smooth and doesn’t show any chipping (unless it has been mishandled). If in doubt, ask an expert.

Chipped Pearl Paint

[dropcap2]3[/dropcap2]Real pearls on a strand will never be perfectly matched. Since no two pearls are identical in nature, look for minor variation in color and shape that indicate your pearls are authentic. You may need to look very closely, as high quality strands will be well matched. However, the differences will be there! 

[dropcap2]4[/dropcap2] Size matters. Are your pearls enormous and perfectly spherical? If you paid a comically tiny price for your comically huge pearls, it’s very likely that they are fake. In nature, the longer a pearl remains within an oyster’s shell, the more likely it is to develop imperfections like dents and divots. As a result, pearls of a very large size can be extremely valuable. If your pearls fit this description, it’s likely you have a strand of shell pearls.

[dropcap2]5[/dropcap2] Knots are important! Real pearls will be individually knotted on a silk or microfiber strand. These knots are crucial to the longevity of your pearls. In addition to preventing each pearl from rubbing against its neighbor, the knots also protect against the loss of more than a couple of pearls, should your strand get caught on something and break. Many high-quality fakes will be knotted (such as Mallorca Pearls), but they are easy to identify when you know what to look for.


Tip: If your strand is knotted, take note of the condition of the knots. Are they frayed or discolored? Is there space between the knots and the pearls? If so, you may need to have your strand restrung to prevent breakage. Pearls International offers restringing for $1/knot. Contact us if you’d like to get more information about our jewelry repair services.

Knotted vs. Unknotted Pearls[dropcap2]6[/dropcap2]If your pearls have unusual coloring, they may be fake. While some real pearls are dyed for fashion or to cover up unsightly surface imperfections, good-quality pearls usually stick to colors that appear in nature. Your favorite chartreuse strand might not be the real thing, but feel free to rock that look if it suits you! To learn more about color treatments in pearls, check out this post.

[dropcap2]7[/dropcap2] The temperature of your pearls can give you some hints. Real pearls often feel cool to the touch and will quickly warm to your body’s temperature when worn. Fake pearls will feel much more close to room temperature when you first pick them up.

[dropcap2]8[/dropcap2] Do your pearls look like soldiers in a row? If they are perfectly uniform without any differences or imperfections, it’s very likely that they were manufactured. Real pearls are born in the sea, so they grow up getting rolled around by wind and waves, and as a result, they are never, never perfect. Even ’round’ pearls will show small lumps and bumps and minor imperfections in the nacre. In the pearls of utmost quality, these may not be visible without a loupe, but they are still there. Don’t worry — these are signs that your pearl came from nature!

Pearl Shape

[dropcap2]9[/dropcap2]Genuine pearls appear more ‘glowy’ than ‘shiny’. Look at your pearls under natural light. Real pearls are made from layer upon layer of a material called ‘nacre’. These layers are translucent, and reflect light in such a way that a real pearl appears to have an inner glow that is almost impossible to recreate with artificial methods. If your pearls appear harsh or have an unusual brassy or metallic appearance, they may be fake.

Graduated white akoya pearl necklace
Genuine Akoya Pearls from Pearls International – this exquisite strand shows you a real life example of the ‘glowy’ quality mentioned above. Faux pearls can appear more metallic.

[dropcap2]10[/dropcap2]Last but not least, one of the best methods for determining if your pearls are genuine is the ‘tooth test’. Real pearls have microscopic crystalline structures, not unlike fingerprints. Every pearl has its own structure, but fake pearls do not have this unique characteristic. As a result, if you hold one pearl between your thumb and index finger, then gently rub the pearl on one of your teeth (this only works with real teeth, not veneers or dental implants), you will feel a slight ‘gritty’ texture, as if you are rubbing sand on your tooth. Fake pearls will feel perfectly smooth. Note: Shell pearls, due to the powdered nacre they contain, may feel gritty. Ask your jeweler to identify them for you.

Now you know!

We hope these tips helped you determine if your pearls are real or fake. Still not sure? Drop by and we can take a look for you, or you can send your pearls to us at the address below. Be sure to include your name, phone number and a return address with your package!

Pearls International
3114 So. Atlantic Avenue
Daytona Beach Shores, FL 32118


This is the newest way to shop!

Pearls International Digital Showcase Screen Capture
Pearls International Digital Showcase Screen Capture

 

Pearls International is proud to introduce our new Digital Showcase!

We have created many gorgeous custom works for our customers in the past, and now we have found a way to make it easier…and more FUN!

Our new Digital Showcase offers thousands of options for you to choose from when it comes to creating your own special piece of jewelry. You can select from unique rings, engagement sets, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings that are perfectly suited to your style. We are now even able to offer you loose diamonds and gemstones!

Have your own stone? That’s great – choose your dream setting, metal type, and accent stones and we will set your stone for you!

Are you a do-it-yourself kind of person? Our Showcase also offers findings, metals, and jeweler’s tools at great prices!

And if your creative juices just aren’t flowing, our Showcase offers fine, completed pieces that can’t be found in stores.

So how does this thing work? Here’s an example of how to create a customized engagement ring – we took the same setting and made two very different pieces of jewelry! (Click the images below to make them larger.)

How to Use the Showcase
We selected this gorgeous halo engagement setting. Here are some of the options the Showcase gave us!
Showcase Ring B
For our first ring, we decided to go with yellow gold. This one has a round diamond with emeralds, peridot, and more diamonds as the accent stones.
Showcase Ring A
For our second example, we chose white gold, a square cut diamond, and sapphire, tanzanite, diamonds, and aquamarine as our accent stones. Wow!

Stop in to either of our locations and have a Pearl Girl walk you through the Showcase. The possibilities are endless!

Angry Ocean

Winds, Waves, and Wonders: Is There Room for Pearls in a Changing World?

(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.)

While the pearl as a gem is one of the oldest jewels known to man, the pearl industry in its currently recognizable form came about only in the last century with the advent of improved pearl culturing methods that made it possible to produce these lovely trinkets on a scale fit for the masses.

While the sudden glut of inexpensive cultured pearls sent the centuries-old natural pearl market into a tailspin, a new buyer appeared. The solidly middle-class families of post-WWII America, newly solvent and looking to make their mark on the world of fashion by keeping up with the Joneses, were at once fascinated by the exotic provenance and mystery of the pearls they saw adorning the necks of Hollywood’s darlings, and charmed by the clever marketing schemes of sellers determined to convince them of the value of gems previously considered counterfeits. Not only did this glamorous gem catch the eye of Americans, the pearl industry began to boom all over the world. Growing economies made for perfect consumers, and today, pearls make up a significant portion of the jewelry market worldwide. In fact, Australia is the leading country in pearl production. In Western Australia alone, the total allowable annual catch of oysters per licensed pearl production company is 572,000 oysters, equaling over $200 million dollars’ worth of pearls!

50s Style

Post-War, business was booming, but not without repercussions to ancient oyster beds, which were rapidly depleted by the sudden demand. Oyster species that ordinarily took several years to mature were now being forced to produce pearls faster and more frequently, leading oyster farmers to breed stock with shells so weak they were flexible to the touch. Due to pollution, over farming, industrialization, and other factors from man made activities, water quality in many marine oyster environments was slipping. These animals are very sensitive, and productivity dropped drastically. Many pearl farmers in coastal China were forced to take their business to cleaner waters in other countries. From this turmoil, the Chinese freshwater pearl business began to grow and become more prominent.

Initially, cultured pearls from China were created from the irritant being implanted into the animal at one year of age. Eventually, in order to increase quality, they made a few changes, including switching the species of mollusk used and waiting until they were two and a half, rather than one year old. These freshwater mussels are raised in former rice paddies that have been flooded to create lakes for pearl farming. They enrich these lakes with manure to increase algae growth, on which the mussels feed. They also add filter-feeding carp to the environment to filter out phytoplankton and prevent algal blooms. This increases the quality of the food source for the mussels. The aim is to raise healthy animals so that they can continue to produce quality gems. However, sometimes the artificially created ecosystem does not function as well as was intended. A few years ago, mussel farming was banned in one province of China due to concerns from questionable levels of manure content in the paddies. While the mussels do benefit from the steps taken to build their habitat, it must be monitored and the water must be kept clean. Just as the lakes the mussels are raised in are affected by outside sources such as pollution, construction, and waste, the surrounding ecosystems are effected by the pearl farms. One pearl farmer was quoted as saying “We must keep a Confucian balance with nature.”

Pearl Farm in Zhuji

 

Chinese pearl farmers may use as many as 10 irritants per mollusk, where many other countries (particularly when producing saltwater pearls) only use 1-2 irritants. In fact, by 2015, it is predicted that China will surpass Australia as the leader in pearl production worldwide. Because they can turn out so many pearls, they sell them at a much lower cost. This has raised fears among other countries that the pearl industry as a whole may become endangered. Chinese workers in pearl farms make a low wage of $15 – $23 a day. Looking to reduce costs even further, some Chinese companies are developing pearl-sorting machines rather than having them chosen and placed with similar pearls by hand. These machines take pictures of the pearl from every angle as it drops, then catches the gem and evaluates it based on size, luster and imperfections. It automatically assigns the pearl to a bin in which it will be kept with similar pearls. As these machines can run day and night and work quickly, they will be able to replace around 15 human workers per machine. This hurts the job market for individuals working in pearl production, and could have drastic effects on the Chinese economy.

Sorting Pearls in China

You could imagine that with such a constantly growing, worldwide industry, there are a lot of people on our planet who are affected by pearl production. Let’s look at French Polynesia, a small group of islands that makes a good bit of its livelihood from pearl farming. Much of their revenue comes from international exports, and 55% of their exports in 2008 were black Tahitian pearls. An estimated 4,000 persons in French Polynesia live from pearl farming, with much of this industry being made up of family-owned businesses.

This booming industry has led to a decrease in emigration from the Gambier and Tuamotu archipelagos to Tahiti, which is what many young people had to do in order to find work previously. Consequently, both the populations of these small islands and the quality of living have increased sufficiently to allow many people to remain living on the islands of their birth. Social and health benefits have arisen from this as well, as many inhabitants of the region enjoy the kind of outdoor physical work provided from pearl farming, as it provides a way of life close to the traditional activities of the population.

On the flip side, not all family-owned pearl farming operations are successful. Many families who try to get into the business without knowledge of entrepreneurship go bankrupt when they are unable to pay back their small business loans. Socially, this creates inequalities among the population, as on some islands the pearl business is booming and on some it is nearly impossible to produce pearls. Some families who are successfully producing pearls are producing low quality jewels and marketing them poorly, leading to many big producers pushing for more regulations on pearl farming in the islands. Also, many local families of the smaller islands face competition from non-locals who have taken over pearl farming on the main island of Tahiti. In addition to local competition, the value of the Tahitian pearl market is being challenged by pearl production companies worldwide, particularly from Chinese freshwater pearls. As Chinese pearls are more cheaply produced, they sell for a much, much lower wholesale cost than saltwater Tahitian pearls. The majority of the buying market would rather buy freshwater pearls at a third of the cost of a similar Tahitian strand.

Tahitian Pearling

Although the competition may be tough, the pearl industry on the French Polynesian islands is still a major point of production on a global scale. In the words of Laurent Cartier, an environmental science Ph.D. who did some work on a research paper on sustainability of pearls, “In the long run, only those producers who work in ecologically responsible ways will continue to produce top-quality pearls.” Cartier believes that the methods used by Chinese pearl farmers can over crowd the mollusks, and ultimately thinks that saltwater pearl farming tends to use more environmentally conscious methods. Kamoka Pearl, one French Polynesian family-owned pearl farm, tells National Geographic about their efforts to remain environmentally conscious in an article published this year. The oysters are kept loosely packed into nets within the lagoon that they are harvested from, in order to be watched over and kept track of by pearl farmers.

A problem that oyster farmers face by keeping them this way is that they then begin to grow barnacles and other organisms on their shells. In order to keep the oyster growing at a normal and healthy rate, and therefore producing high quality pearls, these growths must be cleaned. There are several ways to effectively clean an oyster. The most common method is bringing the nets out of the water and spraying them with a high pressure hose. This is inexpensive and effective, but creates a large amount of organic matter in the water. This decreases the water quality, because it becomes to much for the fish and other marine animals to break down efficiently. Kamoka Pearl, however, has found an environmentally conscious way around this problem. Rather than hosing the oysters off, they move them to shallow areas of the lagoon where fish life is more abundant and varied. After a few days, the fish clean the oysters naturally. Although this isn’t as quick or cheap in means of labor costs, the company prefers to spend the extra money to do what they feel is best for the environment.

Whether or not pearl farming is beneficial or detrimental to the environment depends on the methods used to farm the mollusks and environmental factors from other industries. Research is still underway. New knowledge, methods of farming, and innovations in technology are being discovered day-to-day. The question of whether there is room for pearls in a changing world can safely be assumed as a yes, as long as we leave enough room for the ocean to continue its natural processes. We have seen since the invention of cultured pearls all the way to today that with changes in society, come changes in the pearl industry, and these changes can have varied and lasting effects. It appears that the pearl industry has set itself up to be as timeless as the gems themselves are.

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