Color refers to the body color of the pearl. Typical colors include yellow, black, silver, pink, cream and white. Overtone is a secondary color that can be seen when the pearl is examined at different angles and lighting. The overtone is expressed after the body description such as cream rose. White and white rose colors command the highest prices.
Luster is the deep glow or shine that is created by the reflection of light through microscopic crystals which form in the pearl nacre. Luster is very important to the overall appearance of pearls. High luster make a pearl strand really pop, drawing immediate attention. Low luster pearls, even if top color, will appear lifeless and dull. The larger the pearls, the more noticeable the luster. Don’t skimp on luster!
Round is the rarest and most desirable shape. Other shapes found include off-round, oval and baroque in saltwater varieties and symmetrical and freeform shapes in the freshwater versions.
The layers of nacre produced by the oyster are not always smooth and uniform. Some surface blemishes and bubbles can appear in the layering process and exist to a greater or lesser extent in most pearls. Those pearls with blemish free surfaces are rare and highly sought after and command premium prices.
The size of the pearl depends on the variety – with the largest of any variety commanding the highest prices due to the higher mortality rates of those oysters. Size ranges are as follows:
Akoya – up to 9.5mm
South Sea & Tahitian – up to 20mm
Freshwater – up to 12mm
Cultured pearls are rare organic gems with a color and luster that are universally treasured, however, their delicate nature also requires extra care to preserve and protect them from damage. With attention and care, your pearls will last a lifetime.
- Apply cosmetics, hair sprays and perfume before putting on any pearl jewelry.
- After removal, wipe carefully with a soft cloth to remove any traces of chemicals.
- Pearl jewelry can be washed with mild soap and water.
- Do not toss your cultured pearl jewelry carelessly into your purse, bag, or jewelry box. A pearl’s surface can be scratched by metals and gemstones.
- Don’t rub pearls together in a harsh manner. Like items can scratch each other.
- Make certain pearl strands are double knotted between each pearl to protect against chipping the nacre and losing multiple pearls if the strand breaks.
- Place cultured pearl jewelry in a chamois bag or wrap them in tissue when putting them away.
- Inspect pearl strands regularly for stretched out or frayed silk.