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Guide to cultured, freshwater pearls

Some information about  the history of pearls, cultured, freshwater pearls which are a fabulous choice for a bridal necklace, bracelet or earrings, bridal jewellery sets or some gorgeous pearl jewellery as a keepsake anniversary or birthday gifts.

 If you would like to know how to clean and care your pearls go to our Pearl Care Guide.

Many pearls now originate from China. Since trade routes opened up again, the price of pearls has dropped dramatically, and the number of pearl farms has dramatically increased. The Chinese are certainly making waves in the pearl world due to their cheaper prices. The Japanese have suffered in their pearl beds due to disease as well as facing stiff competition from the low prices available from China.

Until 100 years ago, flawless, natural, round, large white pearls were prized more than precious gemstones. The finest of pearls then came from the Persian Gulf and South India. For everyone, but the richest people, faux (fake) peals were the only alternative as the cost was so high for a string of real pearls. Fine South Sea pearls still command a high price, but the rarity value of real pearls was so great in the early 1900’s that an early American skyscraper exchanged hands for the price of a pearl necklace!  Faux pearls have come on a long way since then, and we sell a fabulous collection of diamante and faux pearl jewellery which are ideal as wedding jewellery.  Many of them are available as wedding jewellery sets, with bridal bracelets  and bridal earrings to match the necklace.

Click here to see our bridal jewellery collection.  Below is the divine white pearl pendant which is perfect for brides and bridesmaids, with a lovely pair of pearl drop earrings available to match.

  

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The pearl has long been loved and desired. Cleopatra wore pearls, Helen of Troy probably had a classic double string tucked away somewhere for the unexpected visit by a party of handsome soldiers!!

There is something in the lustre, the smoothness, the weight and the balance of pearls which connects with the innermost self appreciation of every woman. Most will put aside other indulgence to own a particular necklace.

Perhaps nothing illustrates the point better than the story of a wealthy New Yorker of the early 1900’s, she went along to a Cartier exhibition that included a double string of natural pearls said to be the finest in the Western World. However, her husband declined to buy it for her when told of the $1 million price tag on the pearls. So she put together a unique proposition – she would exchange her town house on Fifth Avenue and 52nd St for the pearl necklace. Cartier still occupies the premises now, and of course worth more than any pearl necklace ever assembled!

At that time, only natural pearls were available and it took at least a decade for a natural pearl to grow to about 6mm, and much longer to grow to 7-8mm. Many pearls could not manage to grow to a good round shaped pearl, and not all oysters grew pearls naturally. There were also many dangers associated with diving on the deep natural oyster beds.

Affordable Cultured Freshwater Pearls

 

Cultivation was started in the 1980’s by Kokichi Mikimoto of Japan, using a method whereby a small bead was placed into an oyster shell. The bead coated itself with nacre (mother of pearl) and so pearl jewels became more affordable. Today, cultivation is extensively used in mussel shells and other shells and left to mature in freshwater lakes and rivers. The resultant nacre coated beads from this process then became known as freshwater pearls.

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Saltwater and freshwater pearls grow in molluscs, but not all molluscs produce pearls. The pearls form around an irritant or an intruder inside the shell of those molluscs where the Mother of Pearl lining of the outer shell can provide the constituents of the Nacre layers to build up the solid pearl. In natural pearls this process is one of happenstance and not every suitable shell grows a pearl. In cultured pearls the intruder is introduced into the mollusc to start the process off and left to grow to the required size. The process has been developed and improved over the years to the point where the cultured version has outstripped practically all natural pearls on the world market.

 

This lovely triple strand pearl bracelet is made from lovely round freshwater pearls and finished with a handmade silver clasp.

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The shade and colouration of a pearl is conditioned by the water in which the mollusc exists, but the actual colours these days can also be tweaked towards fashionable demands by dyeing and laser treatment enabling the purest white, champagne, pink, green, peacock, silver and gold colours to be produced on demand.

Now, more than ever pearls are available and affordable to all. Both faux and real freshwater, or cultured pearls are very affordable if you find the right dealer and especially if you trade with an expert retailer.  Girls Love Pearls carry a wide collection of freshwater and faux pearls.  Our freshwater pearl collection is ideal for bridal jewellery, bridesmaid gifts, wedding anniversary gifts, birthday gifts, special occasion jewellery, mother of the bride jewellery and for a gift from the groom to his guide.  We have now included a range of diamond and freshwater pearl jewellery which has been really popular with grooms who want to impress their bride with a beautful keepsake gift.  The Princess pearl and diamante jewellery collection has been a sell out with brides, choosing some lovely pearl pendants or pearl drop earrings with perhaps a matching pearl bracelet for their wedding day.

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Many items of pearl jewellery are combined with semi-precious stones such as jade, lapis lazuli, turquoise, amethyst, carnelian, mother of pearl as well as swarovski crystal. Freshwater pearls are available in a large array of colours, sizes and shapes and may be finished with gold or silver fittings offering you an ever wider choice.

Pearls are a must in any fashionable woman’s wardrobe. Pearls are the perfect gift that suits all ages of women, maybe easily and discretely posted or presented at Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Birthdays, Weddings, Anniversaries etc.

 

For further bridal information please take a look through our bridal information pages, they are full of ideas and information for your wedding day and we are adding to them all of the time.