This Week's Obsession: Pearls, the original gem
What comes to your mind when your think pearls? Your grandmas lovely single strand necklace? A long flapper necklace wound around the neck and let loose down to the waist? The classic Jackie Onassis 3 strand necklace? Or a pirate with a pearl earring? Or maybe Harry Styles. Pearls come in all shapes, sizes and colours and oh, yes, they are not only for the demure mature ladies, men have been decorating themselves with them since the beginning of civilisation.
Pearls are the OG - the original gem - it is the oldest gem known to man, perhaps because there is no need of faceting and polishing to reveal their beauty. Pearls are unapologetically beautiful from the get go.
They have been dangling from Roman goddess Juno as Homer describes them in the Iliad, all the way to decorating the Queen Mother herself. Coco and Lagerfeld also seem to favour pearls in their designs. Natural pearls form around a microscopic irritant in the bodies of certain molluscs. Cultured pearls are the result of the deliberate insertion of a bead or piece of tissue that the mollusc coats with nacre.
With pearls there are several quality factor we need to take into account:
In many cases, the colour of a pearl is influenced by the colour of the lip of the oyster, which is the outer portion of its shell. Cultured Tahitian pearls, for example, inherit their grey hues from cultured Tahitian black-lipped oysters, also known as Pinctada margaritifera.
Cultured pearls are pearls that form in saltwater or freshwater after an irritant, such as a tiny bead, is inserted into the oyster shell by a pearl farmer. Layers of nacre form around the irritant to create the pearl—the same as with natural pearls. But because humans are involved in the process, cultured pearls are different from natural ones.
The composition of a freshwater pearl is very different from a saltwater pearl. Saltwater pearls have a bead nucleus. This means, at the centre of a saltwater pearl is a mother-of-pearl bead inserted by the grafter to start the pearl making process. Freshwater pearls do not have a bead in their centre. So, freshwater pearls are closer to natural pearls in their composition. They also are heavier since the pearl is heavier without a mother of pearl bead in the centre.
According to the Wall Street Journal "The Latest Must-Have Accessory for Men Is...a Pearl Necklace? Harry Styles, Pharrell Williams and A$AP Rocky are just a few of the trend-setting gentlemen wearing the audaciously delicate strands."
So which is the right pearl for you? The one you fall in love with! White, cream, gold, brown, purple, green, black. Pearls in any kind of jewellery imaginable and even sewn in clothes ala Henry the 8th or Queen Elizabeth.
FIVE FABULOUS PEARL DESIGNERS
According to French Vogue here are 5 fab designers who are reinventing pearl jewellery.... and yes, men pay attention, I will be stealing your bling!
- Lia Di Gregorio (love her!!)
- Pernille Lauridsen - I definitely want her ice cream melting pearl necklace
- Julie Nielsdotter
To read more about these designers you can click on the link below:
PEARLS BY THE NUMBERS
1893 - Kokichi Mikimoto successfully cultures a pearl in Japan.
2206 BC - A Chinese historian writes about pearls for the first time.
653 FIFTH AVENUE - In 1917, Pierre Cartier traded a double strand of natural pearls for a mansion on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
55.95 carats is the weight of the most famous pearl "La Peregrina" - owned by one of our favourite Covett icons: Liz Taylor.
1:10,000- Only one in 10,000 oysters will produce a natural pearl and of those only one in a million will be gem quality. Only about half of 1 percent of the world's pearls are natural.
PEARLS OF WISDOM
“Life is made up of a few moments all strung together like pearls. Each moment is a pearl, and it is up to us to pick the ones with the highest lustre.” – Joyce Hilfer
“How could you reach the pearl by only looking at the sea? If you seek the pearl, be a diver.” – Rumi
Pearls are always appropriate. - Jackie Kennedy
The world is your oyster, it is up to you to find the pearls. - Chris Gardner
“When I’m cold I just put another rope of pearls on.” – Dorothy Parker
“Why wear one string when you can wear two?” – Coco Chanel