My introduction to the gem world began with my grandmother’s pearls. That was many years ago so how I came to see them is a mystery but I do know and clearly remember that I instantly loved them, loved the look of them and how they felt on my skin, and maybe because I loved them as much as she did she left them to me.
That love affair has never faded or even diminished but rather has gained momentum because there are even more of them today, in all colours of the rainbow and a variety of shapes to love.
Colours, Shapes, & Origin
The colours of today’s pearls are simply breath-taking for they range from the deepest Tahitian, Fijian, and Cook Islands blacks to pristine whites from Australia and Japan, to golden pearls from Myanmar (Burma) and Indonesia, to metallic freshwater pearls from China, to abalone pearls from New Zealand, to steely blue Akoyas from Vietnam, and a host of colours from Mexico’s west coast. But even more than the amazing range of base colours in each pearl category, there is an infinite array of complex overtones, known in the trade as the orient and the pearl’s real magic, that overlay the pearl’s basic colour in a mysterious shifting iridescence in every colour of the spectrum to give the pearl its lustre, glow and non-stop appeal.
Pearls today come in an amazing variety of shapes – perfect classic spheres, buttons, ovals, drops, flat, and baroque (irregular shapes) that inspire artistic creation and imagination, as in cloud watching as they form and reform into different shapes.
Pearls were known in ancient times so no surprise that their origin was considered something of a mystery; hence the legend or myth that they were created or formed by drops of moisture falling from the sky to be swallowed by oysters. Today, we know better but their creation is still considered something of a miracle because pearls, unlike other gems that were formed millions of years ago in the earth, come from the sea and are the result of a mollusk’s self-defence mechanism protecting itself against an intruder of some sort that has found its way into the mollusk’s body by growing a sac around the invader and secreting many layers of nacre to cover the irritant that then becomes the pearl. Also, unlike other gems, pearls require no polishing or treatment of any sort but can be worn fresh out of the shell.
The least expensive pearls are the freshwater type but whatever their cost, accidents do sometimes happen and you find yourself in the position of needing your necklace to be restrung. Now I know there are many Internet sites claiming their videos can teach you how to do the restringing yourself. But would you? I certainly would not with my heirloom pearls and I strongly recommend that you too opt for a professional pearl restringer (my choice is Joe at LL Private Jewellers) who will not only do it better than you could ever do but can recommend which material – silk, thread, nylon, wire, gold, silver, etc. – best suits your precious pearls. But even if your necklace doesn’t break you really should have it restrung on a fairly regular basis, just like you have your other gems and fine jewellery cleaned, because even the strongest thread or whatever material was used to string the pearls will stretch or break.
You also should have them knotted for added security and beauty. We will also advise the best material for your item and tell you why. I find it really interesting that nylon, rather than silk that was for the longest time the preferred material or medium for the restringing purpose, is now considered the best. And, equally interesting, nylon is even better than wire, which can also break.
For more in-depth information, though, talk to Joe and see him on a regular basis to have your precious pearls restrung before the unimaginable breakage occurs and you lose some of your beautiful gems. And, to reduce stretching and stress of the cord always store your pearls lying down rather than hanging them.
Please for more information about the pearls or pearls restringing contact LL Private Jewellers at 604-808-3010.