Top 10 Things to Know About Pearls

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Photo Credits: (from top left) Atlas Wedding Photography, Caroline Ghetes Photography, Picture This Photography, (second row), Jennifer Skog, Laurie Bailey Photography, Carlos Andres Varela Photography, (third row), Nicole Hill Gerulat, Kristin Kasperek Photography, Jeff Greenough, (fourth row) Anika London, VUE Photography, Miguel Pola Photographers.

Top 10 Things to Know About Pearls

One of the oldest gems known to history, pearls have been rumored to possess powers of love, money, protection, fertility, good health and luck. From the office to the opera and everywhere in-between, they are always the perfect accessory choice. But what do you really know about them? Here are our top ten pearls of wisdom… about pearls.
1. THERE IS MORE THAN ONE TYPE OF "REAL" PEARL. Actually, there are two categories: natural and cultured. Natural pearls occur in the wild when an irritant such as grain of sand enters an oyster and becomes lodged between soft tissue and the shell. In a defensive response, the oyster secretes layer upon layer of nacre to cover the offending object. A pearl is the result of many years of these luminescent layers. Cultured pearls are created in much the same way, but in a controlled environment.
2. THE LUSTER IS A PEARL'S MOST CRUCIAL FACTOR. The amount of light reflected on a pearl's surface, not its size, is what determines a pearl's quality.
3. LARGE PEARLS ARE MORE VALUABLE THAN SMALL PEARLS. Pearls come in a wide range of sizes, from seed pearls to baroque pearls, the largest natural pearls. Because large pearls are harder to cultivate, and because their blemishes are easier to spot, a good quality large pearl is a rare commodity.
4. THE ROUNDER THE PEARL, THE HIGHER THE PRICE. While some prefer the unusual shapes of the baroque, a perfectly round shape is the most prized. Teardrop pearls are also very valuable.
5. MOST PEARLS HAVE BLEMISHES. These are natural characteristics of raw pearls and do not always detract from the beauty or value of the pearl. As long as the luster is good, even pearls from the low-grade category can be used for jewelry.
6. COLOGNE, LOTION AND HAIR SPRAY CAN DAMAGE PEARLS. Because these products can damage nacre and cause discoloration, we recommend you put your pearl jewelry on after these products have been applied.
7. PEARLS SHOULD NOT BE WORN WHEN BATHING, SWIMMING OR EXERCISING.
8. PEARLS MUST BE CLEANED GENTLY. Wipe them with a soft, dry cloth, or if necessary, wash them in a solution of warm water and mild soap. You may scrub your pearls gently with a very soft bristled brush, but not with a toothbrush -- it may scratch the delicate surface of your pearls. Rinse them well of any remaining soap or residue.
9. WASHING PEARL NECKLACES CAN WEAKEN THE STRING. Limit washing to once a year and be sure they are completely dry before you wear them. A wet string attracts dirt, and if dirt gets into a drill hole, there is no way to remove it without having your gems unstrung. If your string of pearls becomes weak, have it restrung and knotted immediately.
10. PEARLS SHOULD NOT BE STORED IN CONTACT WITH OTHER JEWELRY. Due to the delicate nature of their surface, this can result in damage to the pearls.

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