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Pearls again becoming a 'must-have' accessory

Merchants report big sales in gems over last Christmas season

Pearls again becoming a 'must-have' accessory
Pearls again becoming a 'must-have' accessory

Pearls are no longer worn only by those past the age of 50. Whether they're cultured or simulated, white or colored, pearls have hit a high point on the popularity scale.
Jerry Burnell, owner of Burnell's Creative Gold and Precious Stones, says he sold some "big, big pearl necklaces as Christmas gifts this year."
Burnell says the natural colored pearls are especially popular.
"The lavenders, the greenish tones, the light blues and the golden pearls are beautiful," he said.
The biggest news in pearls right now is in the freshwater category, Burnell said.
"The Chinese have learned to make freshwater pearls round. Freshwaters today are a long way from the little ones that looked like Rice Krispies," he said.
Linda Stinson, graduate gemologist at Randy Cooper Fine Jewelry, says the Chinese freshwater pearls sold very well during the holidays and that several designer collections such as Judith Ripkin, John Hardy and Saint incorporate pearls in their designs.
Those in the jewelry business remind us that there are many types of pearls, and some are fake. And they advise that if you're investing in genuine pearls, you should make sure you're buying from a reputable dealer.
"Some fakes are easy to spot, and some are not," Burnell said, explaining that some are nothing more than painted plastic beads.
With genuine pearls, Burnell says it's "all about how round are the pearls. If they're not perfectly round or blemish-free, the price drops."
Genuine or manmade, inexpensive or super-pricey, pearls in all sizes, shapes and colors are a hit this season and will carry into spring.
The value of cultured pearls depends on luster (the glow and brilliance of the pearl), surface (the fewer natural markings, the more expensive the pearl) and shape (the rounder and more symmetrical the pearl, the more valuable it will be).
Caring for pearls
Because pearls are soft, store them in a jewelry pouch.
To protect pearls from skin's acidity, wipe them with a soft cloth after wearing.
Take pearls off when applying cosmetics, hair spray or perfume, or when showering or swimming.
Remember that pearls are easily damaged by chemicals like perfume, vinegar and lemon juice.
Heat and dry air can damage pearls. A safety deposit box isn't a good storage place for pearls.
Check for loosening of pearls in jewelry such as rings, earrings and pendants.
Do not wear your pearls when the string is wet.
Do not hang pearls to dry because the string stretches when wet.
If you wear your pearls often, every six months or so have a jewelry professional verify that the pearls on your jewelry are securely mounted or that the string is still good.
Cleaning pearls
Use only jewelry cleaners labeled as safe for pearls.
Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner.
Do not clean pearls with steam.
Keep pearls away from dishwashing detergents, bleaches, scouring powders, baking soda and ammonia-based cleaners.
Never use a toothbrush or abrasive materials to clean pearls.
If pearls have not been kept clean and are very dirty, take them to a jeweler, where they can be cleaned with a special pearl cleaner.
Pearls of wisdom
How a cultured pearl is formed: Cultured pearls result from a small irritant (usually a natural shell bead and/or piece of fleshy tissue) implanted into living oysters (Akoya and South Sea pearls) or mussels (freshwater pearls). The oysters or mussels secrete a substance called "nacre," which bonds to the irritant. The resulting layers of nacre form the pearls.
Types of pearls
Akoya pearls grow for 10 to 18 months in saltwater in Japan or China. Usually rose, silvery white, cream, gold or blue-gray. Average size is 7 millimeters.
Tahitian pearls grow for two to three years in saltwater. Colors are peacock blue, black, grayish black, silver gray, blackish rose, blackish blue, blackish green and eggplant. Average size is 13 millimeters.
South Sea pearls are grown in saltwater for two to three years in waters off Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar and Thailand. Average size is 13 millimeters, in silver, silvery pink, white, pinkish white, goldish white and golden.
Freshwater pearls are grown in fresh water, mostly in China, taking nine months to one year to reach an average size of 6 millimeters. Colors are white, pink, peach, lavender, gray, cream and yellow.

Updated : 2021-06-14 17:22 GMT+08:00