About Genuine Pearls

Many of the pieces you will find in Looney Maiden Jewelry are created using beautiful genuine freshwater and cultured pearls.

Your bridal jewelry will become your first family heirloom.

Today, the least expensive cultured pearl products rival the quality of the most expensive natural pearls ever found in jewelry. Brides particularly love wearing pearls on their wedding day as they create the perfect accent to complement their bridal gowns and wedding dresses.

Pearls are an organic gem, created when an oyster covers a foreign object with beautiful layers of nacre. Long ago, pearls were important financial assets because thousands of oysters had to be searched to uncover only one
pearl. Pearls were rare, created only by chance.

Today, pearls cultured by man are readily available. Beads made of shell are placed inside a saltwater oyster or freshwater muscle which is then returned to the water. When the pearls are later harvested for jewelry, the oyster has covered the bead with layers of nacre.

Most saltwater cultured pearls are produced in Japan for jewelry such as necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and chokers. In the warmer waters of the South Pacific, larger oysters produce South Sea cultured pearls and Tahitian
black cultured pearls, which are larger in size. Most freshwater pearls are cultured in China.

Cultured freshwater pearls first originated in Japan. Quite soon after their initial success with cultured saltwater pearls, Japanese pearl farmers experimented with freshwater mussels in Lake Biwa, a large lake near Kyoto.
Initial commercial freshwater pearl crops appeared in the 1930s. The all-nacre Biwa pearls formed in colors unseen in saltwater pearls. Almost instantly appealing, their luster and luminescent depth rivaled naturals because they, too, were pearls throughout. This made for exciting new possibilities in pearl jewelry design.

The quality of pearls is judged by the orient, which is the soft iridescence caused by the refraction of light by the layers of nacre, and luster, the reflectivity and shine of the surface. Fine pearls do not have any flaws
or spots in the nacre: it has an even smooth texture. Other factors which affect value are the regularity of the shape, size, and color: rose tints are the most favored.

What makes pearls used in jewelry even more valuable is the consistency of the pearls used within a necklace, bracelet, choker, and their matching earrings. Workers have to search through thousands of pearls before they can find enough pearls of the same quality, shape, color, and size necessary to craft a high quality piece of jewelry. This is the hallmark of companies like Mikimoto and why they charge tens of thousands of dollars for their jewelry.

If you own a strand of natural pearl jewelry, hold it up to your eye and look down the length of the jewelry strand. This is one of the ways that appraisers distinguish consistency in pearl jewelry.

Cultured pearls and natural pearls can be distinguished from imitation pearls by a very simple test. Take the pearl and rub it (gently!) against the edge of a tooth. Cultured and natural pearls will feel slightly rough, like
fine sandpaper, because of the texture of natural nacre. Imitations or faux pearls will feel as smooth as glass because the surface is molded or painted on a smooth bead.

Pearl Colors

The color of pearls used in jewelry varies with the mollusk and its environment. It ranges from black to white, with the rose of Indian pearls esteemed most. Other colors are cream, gray, blue, yellow, lavender, green,
and mauve. All occur in delicate shades. Cultured pearls for jewelry are being produced in virtually every color of the rainbow.

Black pearls from the South Pacific also come in a range of colors. Starting in the 1990s, China surprised the market with products that are revolutionizing pearling. The shapes, luster, and colors of the new Chinese production often match original Biwa quality and sometime even surpass it.

Bleaching, dying, and polishing do occur. Except for the old Arabic practice of sun-bleaching in the Persian Gulf, natural pearls were practically never processed. Chinese pearls that are nearly white or mottled are usually
bleached to make them whiter and more uniform.

Incorporating the same methods perfected by the Japanese, the Chinese use a mild bleach, bright fluorescent lights, and heat. They polish surfaces by tumbling pearls in pumice or similar substances. The idea, as always, is
to facilitate matching pearls for strands. Many Chinese pearls used to be dyed in the 1980s to bright red, blue, lavender, yellow or even black. In response to contemporary jewelry preferences, they now offer a selection of subtle natural colors as well.

Pearl Birthstone

Pearl and cultured pearl along with alexandrite and moonstone are birthstones of Gemini (Twins): May 21 – June 21.

Wedding Anniversary Pearls

Freshwater Pearl is the anniversary gemstone for the 1st year of marriage.

Pearl is the anniversary gemstone for the 12th and 30th year of marriage.

Pearl Varieties

Jewelers commonly refer to saltwater pearls as Oriental pearls.

Those produced by freshwater mollusks a are called freshwater pearls.

The Healing Ability of Pearls

Pearls eliminate emotional imbalances. They help one master the heart chakra, aid stomach, spleen, intestinal tract & ulcer problems.

Mystical Power of Pearls

Pearl is said to help one see themselves and help improve self-worth.

As an emblem of modesty, chastity and purity, the pearl symbolizes love, success, and happiness.

Care and Treatment of Pearls

Pearls are less durable than most gems. They are sensitive to acids, dryness, and humidity.

If you wear cosmetics, perfume or a hair spray, put these on before wearing your pearl jewelry. When taking off your pearls, wipe them with a dry, lint-free cloth. If needed, clean your pearls with warm soapy water being very careful to not get water into the drill hole as the pearl may discolor. Dry your pearls flat on an absorbent soft (preferably lint-free) towel.

What must be kept in mind is that the softness of pearls and their low resistance to heat and chemicals mean that special precautions must be taken when cleaning them.

Here are some important Pearl cleaning guidelines:

Do not use commercial jewelry cleaners on pearls unless the product label states they are safe for pearls. Many such products contain ammonia, which will cause deterioration.

Never clean pearls in an ultrasonic cleaner. That can damage the pearls.

Never steam-clean pearls. Heat can harm them.

Never use detergents, bleaches, powdered cleansers, baking soda or ammonia-based cleaners on pearls.

Do not wear pearl jewelry when their string is wet. Wet strings stretch and attract dirt, which is hard to remove. Likewise, do not hang pearls to dry.

Do not use toothbrushes, scouring pads or abrasive materials to clean pearl jewelry. They can scratch the pearls’ surface. If there is a lump of dirt that can’t be rubbed off with a soft cloth, trying using a fingernail, which
has a hardness of only 2.5 or less.

Pearl Cleaning “Do’s”

Cleaning pearls is not complicated. After you wear them just wipe them off with a soft cloth or chamois, which may be dry or damp. This will prevent dirt from accumulating and keep perspiration, which is slightly acidic, from eating away at the pearl nacre.

When taking off a pearl ring, grasp the shank, or metal part, rather than the pearl. This will prevent the pearl from loosening and coming into contact with skin oil on your hand.

If pearls have not been kept clean and are very dirty, they can be cleaned by your jeweler or they can be washed in water and a mild soap, such as Ivory or Lux Liquid and cleaned with a soft cloth.

Some liquid soaps, such as Dawn, can damage pearls. Pay attention to the areas around the drill holes where dirt may tend to collect.

After washing your pearl jewelry, lay it flat in a moist kitchen towel to dry. When the towel is dry, your pearls should be dry.