Whether you receive them as a gift or a pampering self-purchase, pearls are the ultimate accessory and just ooze sophistication, class and style. Whether you own one in necklace, bracelet or ring form, we’ve sussed out how to keep your piece in tip-top condition thanks to jewellery entrepreneur Leah Lambert, co-founder of boutique label Stones That Rock.
HELLO LEAH! TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT PEARLS
The first thing to know is that pearls vary in shape, quality, colour and price. Your personal style and budget are the key factors in deciding what type are for you.
The creation of natural pearls is quite a rare process. The cultured pearl industry was formed to bridge the gap between natural pearl formation and consumer demand. Pearl farms use both saltwater seas and freshwater lakes to create pearls. Saltwater and freshwater oysters are injected with nucleus tissue, which acts as an irritant and encourages the oyster to form a pearl.
Pearls fall into three broad categories: firstly, natural pearls, which vary in size and luminosity and usually have a stunningly iridescent quality. They are found in a variety of shapes and sizes simply because they are wild. Natural pearls are more difficult to find, so typically they tend to be very expensive.
Secondly, cultured pearls, which have some of the same qualities but are most often uniformly shaped and sized; they can also be dyed or bleached to achieve different colours and lustre. Cultured pearls are often thought of as imitation, but this isn’t actually the case. They are made from the same material as natural pearls and take time to create – up to seven years in fact, depending on the type of pearl.
Thirdly, imitation pearls are often made of plastic or glass, and can be manufactured easily and cheaply. Often known as shell pearls, they can usually be identified by their smooth surface, artificial colouring and low price tag.
Both natural and cultured pearls of all varieties can be a valuable jewellery investment. Serious investors should focus on Akoya pearls from Japan, Tahitian pearls or the South Sea variety from Australia.
PICKING THE RIGHT PEARLS FOR YOU
Pearls epitomise style, elegance and refined taste – just think of the short choker-style necklace made famous by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the long strings that evoke the Gatsby era of the 1920s. Here’s what to consider when choosing your next piece:
Like a little black dress, different necklace lengths highlight different parts of the body. A short necklace will draw attention to the neck, while a long one will accentuate the bust and elongate the torso. Always make sure you style the length of the necklace with your outfit for balance.
Of course, pearls are not limited to just necklaces. You can accessorise from a huge selection of earrings and bracelets that add polish, sophistication and subtlety to an outfit.
There’s such a wide range of colours available – most of them can be found naturally, or are achieved with the aid of treatments. White is the classic choice. Black pearls are not actually pure black, but dark shades of grey, green or blue, which give an exotic look that works especially well with darker skin tones. Pink, peach and lavender shades are fun and flirty for summer wear.
In the case of pearls, size matters. A good rule of thumb is to choose pearls 7mm or larger for women, and smaller ones for younger girls and teens.
TAKE CARE OF THEM
When cared for properly, pearls can last a lifetime. Our body’s natural oils keep pearls lustrous, so it’s good to wear them often. However, keep them away from household chemicals including perfume, makeup and hairspray, which can dull their shine.
Always put them on last and take them off first. Before putting them away, wipe them with a soft cloth and store them separately from other jewellery to avoid scratching their surface.
Also, most pearl necklaces are strung on silk cord. Due to the fine nature of this material, it’s a good idea to have them restrung every couple of years.
Traditional necklace not working for you? Try a pearl lariat. For a versatile variation, you can also hang a pendant, a charm or a favourite crystal to your necklace. Mix it up and wear the necklace along with some metal, costume or vintage jewellery (think sexy librarian!).
Shop online at stonesthatrock.com, or make enquiries for a showroom appointment by calling 6274 8294.