The Beauty of Pearls – yesterday, today and tomorrow

The different types of pearls

Pearls are unique among gemstones as they are not created on earth but in the sea. They are natural, organic and ecologically-sustaining. They do not need any cutting or polishing to boost their splendour and they are always in fashion.

There are various types of pearls that you can choose from, such as Baroque (pearls with an irregular non-spherical shape), Akoya (a saltwater cultured pearl from the akoya oyster), Tahitian (an organic gem formed from the black lip oyster), Gold South Sea / Golden South Sea (grown in the gold-lip variety of the Pinctada maxima, South Sea pearl oyster), Black South Sea (pearls from the Pinctada margaritifera or Black-lip pearl oyster) and White South Sea (the largest and possibly the most dazzling of all cultured pearl types, and which have a very thick layer of nacre).

Known as ‘the originator of cultured pearls’, Japanese jeweller Mikimoto uses only the best quality pearls for its gorgeous works-of-art. In 1893, its founder, Kokichi Mikimoto, was the first person in the world to successfully culture a pearl. They are truly timeless treasures.

If you are searching for classic and timeless pearl jewellery, look no further than Damiani. The master jeweller selects only the most perfect pearls based on criteria of excellence and quality. In some cases, the pearls are augmented with a small diamond setting that makes them even more delightful.

Pearls and diamonds have always been the perfect bedfellows, as it were. They complement one another (a pearl can tone down the ‘flashiness’ of a sparkling diamond; conversely a diamond make a pearl look more showy), while being very different to each other.

Their ‘marriage’ always creates a dazzling effect.

What is classic and contemporary pearl jewellery?

Many people are under the incorrect impression that pearls are for older (boring) people. This could not be more far away from the truth!

From the timeless classics that are the traditional multi-strand pearl necklace or earring studs, to the plethora of new designs that one can purchase today, pearls are the perfect way to make a statement.

Pearls never go out of style. They can be natural (formed when an irritant or parasite penetrates and lodges in the mantle tissue of a mollusc), cultured (resulting from the process by which a pearl farmer induces pearl formation by inserting an irritant into the mollusc and then ‘cultivating’ it) or freshwater (from oysters that mature in water from lakes or ponds).

Whichever kind you go for, you can find your own way to create a modern take on these timeless pieces of jewellery.

Taking care of your pearls

After every wear, wipe your pearls with a soft cloth. Only clean with a damp cloth when needed (for instance if they get stained) and make sure they are dry before you store them away. Never clean pearls with a steam or ultrasonic jewellery cleaner.

Store pearl necklaces flat to prevent them from stretching. Pearl earrings are best stored in their own box. Do not let your pearls come into contact with makeup, hair spray, or perfume. The safest and best way is always to put on your jewellery as the very final touch.

Finally, if you can, take them to your jeweller once a year to give them a thorough cleaning.

Q & A

What are pearls?

Pearls are the only gemstones to come from a living creature. They are produced by molluscs such as oysters and mussels. In saltwater, pearls are found in oysters, while in freshwater they are produced by mussels. They are created as a natural defence against an irritant such as a parasite, a bit of shell or a grain of sand entering their shell. To protect itself, the oyster secretes a substance called nacre that builds up around the irritant and hardens. Most pearls take anywhere between six months to four years to fully develop. The longer a pearl stays inside an oyster, the larger it becomes.

What are the types of pearls?

There are various types of pearls you can choose from, such as Baroque, Akoya, Tahitian, Gold South Sea / Golden South Sea, Black South Sea and White South Sea.

What are Baroque pearls?

Simply put, Baroque pearls have an irregular non-spherical shape. However, rather than this being seen as a flaw, they are regarded as being quirky and unique. The most valuable of baroque pearls are the South Sea and Tahitian pearls.

What is an Akoya pearl?

An Akoya pearl is a saltwater cultured pearl from the Akoya (Pinctada Fucata) oyster. They are considered to be the classic pearl used for necklaces and other jewellery, as they have perfect round shapes, dazzling luster and neutral colours.

Can pearls be worn every day?

You should actually wear your pearls as often as you can, as your natural oils keep your pearls moisturised. The lustre of your pearls will, in fact, improve when worn next to your skin.

How do you maintain pearls?

Wipe your pearls with a soft cloth after you wear them and before you store them away. Make sure you store them flat. It is also a good idea to take them to your jeweller once a year to give them a once-over.