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Pearls.


Pearls are a timeless and elegant addition to any jewellery collection. In addition to their classic beauty, pearls have long been considered to symbolise loyalty, purity and clarity, making them a perfect gift for a friend or relative. Some even believe that pearls have healing properties. Research shows that wearing pearls can help improve your mental well-being .Pearls are one of the official birthstones for the month of June


Pearls are the only gemstones in the world to have been extracted from living animals. They are organic gems that form when a mollusk, such as an oyster or mussel, produces a substance called nacre to coat an irritant that has entered its shell.


Kokichi Mikimoto is credited as the first man to create a cultured (or cultivated) pearl. After nearly two decades of trial-and-error, he succeeded and received a patent for cultured pearls in 1896. Not only did Mikimoto’s discovery help fulfill the global demand for pearls in a more sustainable way, but it also put a dent in the natural pearl market. That’s due to the fact that people began to opt for these less expensive, more round pearls. Mikomoto was quoted saying that his dream was to “adorn the necks of all women around the world with pearls.” Many today would argue that he accomplished his goal. An estimated 99% of pearls today are cultured.



There are four main types of pearl,and they vary in terms of size, shape, colour and value. Freshwater pearls are mainly grown in rivers and lakes across China. They are the most widely available pearls and as a result, they are sold for a more affordable price. Japanese Akoya pearls are a variety of saltwater pearls that are arguably best-known in the world. They are produced in Japanese and Chinese waters and feature spherical shapes with a beautiful lustre . Tahitians pearls are another type of saltwater pearls cultivated in the islands of French Polynesia. Despite sometimes being referred to as black pearls, they also come in beautiful shades of grey, blue, green, and purple. South Sea pearls are the largest of all pearls and feature white, cream, and golden hues. They can be found in the waters of Australia and the Philippines.


Pearls come in many different shapes. The most common include round, off-round, drop, and baroque. Round-shaped pearls are undoubtedly the most popular ones, but given different budgets and taste, others are admired too. The freshwater pearl shapes used in original Strands jewellery include round, baroque and disc shaped pearls.


The history of the use of pearls for adornment.

The collection of pearls has been around for over 4000 years. In fact, French researchers found what is considered to be the oldest pearl in 2012.  It was discovered in a gravesite in the United Arab Emirates. Using carbon dating, scientists were able to work out that the gemstone was more than 7,500 years old!



Certainly pearls have been known to be used as adornment for several thousand years. Julius Caesar created a law which stated that only rulers of Ancient Rome would be permitted to wear pearls. This is because pearls were seen as a strong indication of social class in Ancient Rome. They were considered to be a symbol of wealth and prestige.


Cleopatra, according to legend, wanted to win a bet with Marc Anthony. She claimed she could host the most expensive dinner in history. At the time, she was known to own two of the largest pearls in existence, which she wore as a pair of earrings. She ordered her servants to obtain the most powerful vinegar available and dissolve one her pearls in the solution. She then proceeded to drink what could be seen as the most expensive cocktail ever made. Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt was deemed to have won the bet. 


Throughout history pearls have been used in jewellery and to adorn clothes as symbols of wealth. We can see from portrait paintings how pearls were worn as necklaces, bracelets earrings and rings just as they are today. They were also used to embellish garments, tiaras and headpieces.



In more modern times famous and influential women such as Princess Diana, Michelle Obama and Coco Chanel all loved their pearls. Jackie Kennedy Onassis said "Pearls are always appropriate"! Nowadays pearls are as likely to be worn with a sweater and jeans as they are with occasional wear. And I'm reliably informed ( by my fashion conscious son-in-law) that men are beginning to wear pearls too!



Caring for your pearls. Dos and Dont’s!

Do:

1. Pearls are soft and delicate gems. Store them in a soft pouch or velvet lined box making sure they cannot be scratched by other jewellery.

2. Wiping the pearls with a damp, soft cloth after you wear them will ensure that they remain free of harmful build-up of compounds that may damage the nacre of your pearls.

3. Pearls contain organic substance, they need fresh air and moisture. It is recommended that you wear your pearls at least once every month!

4. If your pearls are knotted on silk or nylon thread, and you wear them frequently , it is advisable to restring the pearls every one to two years before the silk thread weakens.

5. Regular care will greatly extent the life of your pearls. 

6. Put on your pearls after you have applied makeup, hair spray and perfume.

7. Follow this simple rule. Pearls on last, taken off first!



Don't:

1. Do not put your pearls anywhere near chemicals such as vinegar, alcohol, ammonia, and hair spray, bleach, perfume and cosmetics. Pearls contain calcium carbonates and can be damaged by acids.

2. Do not wear pearls in a swimming pool for similar reasons.

3. Avoid wearing pearls when you sweat a lot, since sweat contains acid so take pearls off when exercising.

4. Pearls do not like strong heat, so never wear them while sunbathing.

5.Avoid wearing pearls on rough materials such as wool.

6. It is best to avoid wearing pearls when you cook, since pearls can absorb smoke and steam from cooking.

7. As pearls contain small amounts of water and protein, keep them away from high heat or dry places.

8.Never store your pearls in an airtight environment such a a zip lock bag. Pearls are organic and do contain trace amounts of water. Storing them in an airtight environment will cause them to become brittle and damage the luster.



If you have any questions or would like to comission a piece of jewellery with pearls please email me at: kwoollett@originalstrands.com

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