The unique lustre of pearls gives them a beauty which makes them ideal for use in all types of fine jewellery. Factors affecting a pearls’ lustre include the reflection, refraction and diffraction of light. The best pearls are nacreous, having an almost mirror like lustre and some degree of iridescence.
Freshwater Pearls are farmed using freshwater mussels, China leads the worldwide production of this type of pearl although Japan and USA to also produce a lesser amount.
The Tahitian Pearl first arrived on the fashion scene in the continental European market around 1845, though they were not highly esteemed until they received the Duchess of Cambridge treatment of their day, gaining popularity after being worn by Empress Eugenie, the wife of French Emperor Napoléon III. A major resurgence occurred globally in the 1970s when the Tahitian Pearl was reintroduced to the market by Salvador Assael in America.
Formed from the Black Lip oyster, Tahitian pearls, often misleadingly called as Black Pearls actually form in a breath-taking spectrum of natural hues, exhibiting highly desirable undertones and overtones which can include gorgeous combinations of peacock, silver and gold through pink and blue to aubergine, or even all at once!
The cultured Tahitian pearl is cultured and left to form naturally, developing in various shapes and sizes including the most common and popular round as well as semi-round, button, circle, oval, teardrop, semi-baroque and baroque making it an incredibly versatile gem, known to fit into virtually any jewellery piece or setting. It is this fantastic versatility of shape and colour which gives the Black pearl its greater value.
Making up over 55% of French Polynesia’s annual export, the Tahitian Pearl is only cultivated in the blue lagoons of the Tuamotu-Gambier Archipelago, ensuring demand endures around the globe.
A perennial red carpet favourite, the Tahitian pearl is the perfect accent to fuse contemporary style with classic glamour, seen recently on Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Jessica Parker and Angelina Jolie.
Akoya pearls, originally produced in Japan, are produced by a small pearl Akoya oyster. Akoya pearls larger than 10 mm in diameter are extremely rare and highly priced. Today, a hybrid mollusc is used in both Japan and China in the production of Akoya pearls.
Pearls need extra special care when compared to other gemstones as they scratch easier than many gemstones. Natural body oils, perfumes and cosmetics can dull the lustre of your pearls.
Here are some tips to ensure that your pearls last you a lifetime: