Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Pretty in Pearls

At Kernowcraft, we stock a wide range of pearl beads and cabochons. Pearls are always a popular choice, they can be classic or adopt the latest trend and happily combine with other gemstone beads. For inspiration, visit our board on Pinterest.
If you love Pearls and would like to look after your collection, consider a Town Talk Pearl Care Kit. This kit contains everything you need to clean your precious pearls. Each pack contains two sachets of pearl tissue and a pearl polishing cloth to bring your pearls up to a gleaming shine again. This pearl care kit can be used on dyed pearls but we would always recommend testing it on an inconspicuous area first to check for colour fastness.

How is a pearl made?
A pearl (salt or freshwater) is naturally produced within the soft tissue of a living shelled mollusc. Almost any shelled mollusk can produce some kind of pearl when an irritating object such as a grain of sand becomes trapped within the mollusc's mantle folds.

Natural freshwater pearls occur in mussels for the same reason that saltwater pearls occur in oysters. Foreign material, usually a sharp object or parasite, enters a muscle and cannot be expelled. To reduce irritation, the mollusk coats the intruder with the same secretion it uses for shell-building nacre. A nacreous pearl (best known) is made from layers of nacre, by the same process as is used in the secretion of the mother of pearl which lines the shell.

The luster of pearls depends upon the reflection, refraction, and diffraction of light from the translucent layers. The thinner and more layers in the pearl, the finer the luster. 

Natural pearls
A natural or wild pearl is one that forms without any human intervention and is very rare. Many hundreds of pearl oysters or pearl mussels have to be gathered and opened, to find even one wild pearl, and for many centuries that was the only way pearls were obtained. This was the main reason why pearls historically fetched such extraordinary prices.

Cultured pearls
A cultured pearl is formed in a pearl farm, using human intervention as well as natural processes. A tiny piece of mantle tissue from a donor shell or a spherical bead is transplanted into a recipient shell. This graft will form a pearl sac and the tissue will precipitate calcium carbonate into this pocket. 

The value of the pearls is determined by a combination of the luster, color, size, lack of surface flaw and symmetry. All factors being equal, the larger the pearl the more valuable it is. Perfectly round pearls are the most valuable are rarest shape.

Lengths of pearl necklaces
Although perhaps not widely used now, there are special terms for lengths of necklaces:
Collar - Measures 25 to 33cm, sits directly against the throat and does not hang down the neck at all.

Choker - Measures 35 to 41cm, sit just at the base of the neck.
Princess - Measures 43 to 48cm, comes down to or just below the collarbone.
Matinee - Measures 50 to 60cm, falls just above the bust.
Opera - Measuring 70 to 90cm, long enough to reach the breastbone or sternum.
Rope - Measuring more than 115 cm, any length that falls down farther than an opera.

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