Beautiful pearls have been on jewelry makers’ radar for centuries. It is a gemstone material made up of calcium carbonate particles arranged in iridescent layers. Pearls form in the bodies of oysters, which react to foreign substances in their bodies by covering them with layers of body material to produce pearls.
It was believed that pearls resembled the moon, were round, and glowing, and historically people have confirmed this belief. Clodius, the son of Aesopus in Roman times, found that pearls taste good and have an exquisite taste. It is believed that Queen Cleopatra consumed a pearl of remarkable value.
Reading the pearl’s name tag
Pearls come in many colors and shapes and are classified according to their origin. When shopping for vintage or antique jewelry with pearls, you will often see “oriental” or “freshwater” pearls listed in the description. Let’s take a look at what it means. Natural pearls are those made entirely from oysters. Oriental pearls are natural pearls from the oriental region. Freshwater and saltwater pearls refer to the water the oysters live in, and cultured pearls are made with the help of humans. The unit used to measure pearls is called the grain. One grain represents the weight of the pearl, so one gram contains twenty grains and one carat contains four grains.
What to look for in pearls
Traditionally, round white pearls were sought as this was the most valuable. Other colors and shapes were also relevant when worn in jewelry metal. Since the Middle Ages, the importance of pearl colors became an important factor. For example, gold symbolized wealth, black represented philosophy, pink demonstrated beauty, and gray was a symbol of being thoughtful and wise.
Pearls are also a symbol of chastity and, when worn around the neck, stand for purity, peace and innocence.
During the Renaissance in Europe, pearls were seen as a symbol of tears. The reason for this was that penetration of an irritant substance and an oyster caused pain, and the oyster worked hard to surround the substance with body material to produce a pearl. Because of this name, pearls have rarely been found on wedding rings or engagement rings in the past, as nobody wants their relationship to be sad.
Colors of a pearl against a colored pearl
The colors of the pearls range from light to dark with many overtones and shades. Light natural pearls are usually available in soft pink, white or cream tones. They also carry overtones of blue, green, red, pink, and gray. Dark colored pearls are referred to as black, although they come in shades of silver gray, dark blue to green, purple and bronze. These can of course be found and therefore valuable.
What refers to “colored pearls” is different from the above. Colored pearls are those with vibrant shades of yellow, green, purple, and gray where the color is the most common. There are also two colored pearls, although they are not commercially useful and are mostly used as a medicinal powder or for cutting and tying in a way that does not differ in color.
The shapes of a pearl
Since pearls are natural substances, there are no perfect and regular materials and, like the color of a pearl, its shape can vary widely. Although a round shape is most valuable and commercially desirable, pear, egg, teardrop, button, and baroque pearls also exist. Button pearls have a flat bottom, and baroque pearls refer to pearls that have irregular shapes and textures. While irregularly shaped pearls often appear on ethnic jewelry, fine antique and vintage jewelry usually have perfectly shaped, round pearls.
Properties of the pearl
Pearls are organic material and can only be made by living things in nature. When pearls are exposed to fire and open flames, they brown, crack and burn. Pearls also tear and dehydrate when exposed to heat. Acids and harmful gases attack and damage pearls. Pearls are intended to be worn on the body, and body oils on the surface of the skin lubricate and moisturize the pearl. If the pearls are not used and stored for too long, they will lose moisture and become dull. This was seen as the pearls’ response to neglect. This is why it is so important to buy vintage jewelry with pearls from a reputable professional antique dealer who takes care of proper storage, temperature and humidity.