For me, no gem can be as precious as a pearl. Indeed, it may not be the most expensive jewel in existence, but being the only living gem born out of a living organism, it’s unmatched as a priceless product of the loving symbiosis between humans and nature.
As a quote says, “The pearl is the queen of gems and the gem of queens.”
Hence, when Jewelmer invited me to attend their Pearl lecture, I saw it as a rare opportunity to get to know the queen of gems better. From there, I learned several things that I thought were also worth sharing to you all.
Types of Pearls
An important differentiation should be made between the two types of pearls: freshwater and saltwater.
Freshwater pearls are produced by mussels that can hold as much as 50 pearls per shell. Because of this, a fight ensues among them for nutrients resulting in gems that are of sub standard quality, i.e. uneven shapes, small in diameter, lackluster, etc. Moreover, mussels do not necessarily need clean water to thrive and only takes at least 6 months to cultivate, hence these pearls are much easier to produce. As a result, freshwater pearls, often found in Greenhills, can be sold at cheaper prices.
On the other hand, saltwater pearls are produced by oysters, specifically these three with the corresponding pearls they bear: Pinctada fucata (Akoya pearls), Pinctada margaritefera (Black South Sea pearls), and Pinctada maxima (Golden South Sea pearls). Unlike, freshwater pearls, these can only produce one pearl per oyster, each taking between 8 to 36 months to develop. Oysters can only cultivate in pristine water environments so taking care of the sea is a must. Because of the lesser quantities produced and the longer cultivation time, saltwater pearls are much more expensive.
Among these, the Pinctada maxima is the biggest and as such, produces the largest pearls. The silver-lipped species are able to produce silver, white, bluish pink pearls that are also known as Australian whites, while the golden-lipped variety (like the picture shown above) produce pearls that are colored gold, cream, champagne, and cream rosé. These golden South Sea pearls are the Philippines’ pride and joy.
How to Choose Quality Pearls
The worth of a pearl can be determined by various factors: orient (inner glow), luster (outer shine), skin purity, color, shape, and size.
The chart above demonstrates the different qualities considered in pearl grading. Simplistically, the more golden the color, the bigger the size, the higher luster, the clear the surface and the more perfect the shape, the higher the price goes. Of course, besides these, the level of craftsmanship is also a factor that may affect a pearl accessory’s value.
How to Choose the Right Pearl Jewelry
These are the things to remember when choosing the right pearl jewelry:
– Start with the essentials (basic studs and a strand) then graduate to grander pieces
– Size doesn’t always matter. Subtle elegance is the key.
– No two pearls are alike. Choose according to your personality.
How to Take Care of Your Pearls
Because pearls are living gems, it’s important that you wear them often. It is believed that pearls draw power from human warmth thus the longer you wear your pearls, the more lustrous they seem to become.
When storing pearls, it’s important to keep them in a place that has moisture. They shouldn’t be kept in safety deposit boxes for long periods of time. In addition, pearls should be stored in separate compartments from other jewelry to avoid scratches.
To clean your pearl, use a damp cloth and gently wipe the surface. Never steam clean them or place them in ultrasonic cleaners.
Jewelmer: Luster for a Lifetime
Speaking of quality pearls, Jewelmer is one of the finest and trusted producers of Golden South Sea pearls in the world. A Filipino and French partnership established in 1979, each piece by the company is a marriage between French and Italian design and Filipino craftsmanship. All pieces are individually handcrafted, hence you cannot help but gasp in awe as you look at each. Below are some of my favorites:
Pearls, being the Philippines’ national gem, are truly something that we can all be proud of. Remember, however, that a precious Golden South Sea pearl cannot thrive in dirty waters. Thus, to protect this truly Filipino gem, it is our duty to also protect the seas from which it came from.
To end, I say love our seas, take pride our national gem, and behold a luster that lasts a lifetime!
For more photos of during the event, please visit my Facebook page.