Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A lesson in Pearls

Seeing as it is the summer and I have a bit of down time- and a friend who works at the library- I have found myself checking out an abundance of books about fashion, textiles, art, etc. One book that looked intriguing to me was called "Icons" by Dodie Kazanjian. The author worked for Vogue while she wrote this book about fashions most iconic pieces (the little black dress, the Chanel suit, Manolos...and so on) one chapter that caught my eye was about PEARLS! Such an interesting shiny little expensive object!

I myself am not very cultured (haha get it?) when it comes to pearls so I was intrigued by everything I learned, and now I am going to pass it down to you! My faithful and loyal reader(s?). 

A natural pearl occurs when an irritant lodges itself into the body of an oyster, the oyster then protects itself by wrapping said irritant in layer after layer of nacre- nacre is that pretty iridescent substance that we have come to know as "pearl"

Cultured pearls have a man made irritant but other than that the pearl making process is exactly the same! Apparently pearl snobs call this "artificial insemination" however even pearl experts have a hard time distinguishing between natural and cultured pearls.

Since the highest trained eye can barely tell the difference between the two it's natural to wonder why some are more pricey than others. Well now I can tell you why! Pearls that have a heftier price tag have been in the oyster for years, inexpensive pearls have only been in the process for a couple of months and will not last long. The nacre in expensive pearls is a lot thicker, and will last a lot longer with the proper care. 

Unlike diamonds pearls do not last forever- and to date no pearl has held its luster for more than 500 years. Just like diamonds though- pearls will never ever go out of style!

Some fun little facts:

In some countries pearls are ground up and sold as medicine such as anti-wrinkle cream and nacre (pearls) are 90% calcium carbonate which is the main ingredient in Tums and Rolaids. Basically- pearls aint' gonna help you get rid of wrinkles

Wash your pearls with soap and water and dry them without rubbing them 

A pearl necklace should be restrung at least once a year because the silk thread gets dirty and disturbs the pearls "equilibrium" (which is tres tres delicate) 

Each years crop of pearls is different- like wine!

Pearls have their own grading system from A to AAA


  1. i've recently rediscovered the beauty of pearls. thankfully my mom has a lot and gave me some!
    thanks for the fun facts! :)

  2. i just got pearls for my 16th bday! i absolutely love them!
    great post!!

  3. great post and i love your blog too

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