Pearl Buying - Choosing & Caring for PearlsAuthor: The Pearl Market.
Pearl buying can seem daunting - the more you learn the more you realise you don't know! If you've read the other articles in this guide you'll understand the different types of pearl and the . If you're buying pearls as a gift, this page answers the most frequent questions.
- there's no industry standard for grading pearls. One supplier's AAA may be another's A.
- quality factors are size, shape, lustre, nacre thickness, blemish, colour, and matching.
- in seawater pearls, a minimum nacre thickness is vital to prevent chipping and flaking.
- pearl prices rise sharply after they reach 7mm to 8mm in diameter.
- pearls are a natural product so expect some small imperfections.
- naturally coloured pearls may have small variations in shade along the strand.
Necklace LengthsSometimes called:
Choker: 14-16 inches Standard: 16 inches
Princess: 17-19 inches Matinee: 20-24 inches
Opera: 28-36 inches Rope: 36 inches and over
For necklaces, 18 inches is easily the most popular. This is the total length, including the clasp.
In everyday use bracelets get more of a battering. They shouldn't be too loose as they can snag and break. 7.5 inches suits most people. The clasp on a bracelet must be easy to fasten and unfasten as it's a one-handed operation.
Sizing a BraceletWhilst 7.5 inches is pretty standard, if you have (for example) a very slim wrist you might need a custom length. Here's a rough guide...
Take a piece of string and wrap it around your wrist where you want the bracelet to lie. The string should be just resting on the skin - neither tight nor slack. Measure the string and add an inch to allow for the radius of the pearls and the clasp. This should give you a length with a little bit of slack for ease of fastening.
Buying Pearls as A GiftIt's usually wise to go for the best grade of pearl you can afford - even if this means choosing a smaller pearl size. If you don't know what she'd prefer, you can't go too far wrong with traditional round white pearls.
A good necklace can be spoiled by a cheap presentation case or tacky lightweight clasp. Some overseas sellers ship products in 'luxury' cardboard jewellery boxes to save weight. Cardboard is cardboard!
ColoursClassic white, ivory and cream are usually a safe bet. Other colours are a matter of skin tone and personal preference. If the colour of a dress or blouse suits, then that shade of pearl probably will too.
Caring For PearlsPearls are a soft gem with low resistance to heat and chemicals. Clean them with a dry or damp soft cloth or chamois. Never use detergent, bleach or chemicals unless you want to watch your pearls melt.
Don't try to remove dirt with a toothbrush or any abrasive material as these can scratch the pearl's surface. It's better to clean pearls regularly than allow a build up of dirt or make-up.
Put on pearls after applying make-up, perfume, deodorant or hairspray. Take off pearls before showering, bathing or swimming so you don't get the silk thread wet (it can stretch).
Keep your pearls in a soft pouch or bag away from other jewellery that scratches.
If pearls are kept in a box for a long time they'll dry out and 'yellow'.
Traditionally, good quality necklaces and bracelets are strung on silk thread that stretches with time and use. If you wear your pearls a lot, they will need restringing periodically.
When removing stud earrings, try to get your fingers behind the earring cup rather than tugging on the pearl itself. If a stud does become detached from it's stem you can .
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