(Return to jewelry glossary index)
A necklace may be nothing more than one of the hundreds of
that we carry at ViridianGold.com
(platinum, gold, stainless steel or even leather), a
combined with a chain, a
string of pearls
, or a combination of
any or all of these, and always check metal chain types, since those are also considered necklaces. For information on necklace lengths and chain width, see
birthstone. A pearl begins its life as a tiny impurity (such as a small sea animal
or grain of sand) inside the folds of an oyster's or mollusk's fleshy body.
Because it is an irritant to the animal, it is slowly coated with a hard substance,
called nacre, which builds up in layers over time, forming a finished pearl.
In a cultured pearl, the irritant is placed there by the pearl farmer; in a natural
pearl (extremely rare), the irritant occurs naturally. Thus, both cultured
and natural pearls are genuine pearls--they are often dyed different colors to enhanced
their beauty. ViridianGold.com does not offer imitation pearl jewelry.
Mother of Pearl is the nacre which lines the inside of the oyster or mollusk
shell, and is often used in jewelry and jewelry boxes. For more information
about pearls, visit the (Cultured
Pearl Association of America) website. You will find a huge selection
of pearl jewelry at ViridianGold.com!
Since all genuine pearls are grown over time by the oyster, they will vary in
shape, luster and color. Because of this, there have developed over the centuries
terminology to quantify a pearl's characteristics. These are not always consistent
from one source to the next. At ViridianGold.com, we use the following descriptions
for our pearl jewelry:
The quality of a pearl is determined by its Lustre (reflectivity and depth of shine)
and Surface (smoothness vs. pits/blemishes on surface). Some pearl suppliers
use "A", "B" and "C" grades, where "A" represents the highest lustre and/or the
highest surface quality. Thus, a pearl rated "AA" would have high lustre and
surface quality. Others may use terms such as "very good" to represent "A",
"good" to represent "B", and so on. Shape, color and size of pearls are not
factors of quality and are quantified separately--pearl colors can vary greatly,
since they are naturally produced, and photography cannot fully capture these nuances.
Natural pearls are often dyed to darken a natural color, or to simulate a naturally-occurring
pearl color. At ViridianGold.com, we will tell you in the item description
if dye has been used for color enhancement, such as with our
chocolate pearl strands
When considering purchase of a pearl strand, look for knots or knotted beads between
the pearls--this assures that the pearls are not lost if the strand breaks, and
also prevents friction wear between adjacent pearls. The clasp should be secure
and designed to stay closed under the weight of the strand. Some strands are
elastic, and are thus lacking knots or a clasp. You will find a great selection
of pearl strands and necklaces at ViridianGold.com!
For information on strand lengths, see
The most lustrous of all pearls, they have historically been grown in Japan,
though China is now producing quality pearls of this type in sizes below 8mm
(at considerably lower cost).
Grown in fresh, rather than salt, water, these pearls are less lustrous than
saltwater varieties, but are popular because of their variety of shapes and
colors. More than one pearl may be grown in each oyster/mollusk. Sources: Japan,
China, USA. These are the lowest cost cultured pearls.
South Sea Cultured:
Grown in large tropical oysters, these pearls are relatively rare and of large
size (10 to 20mm). Consequently, they command higher prices. Sources:
Australia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Philippines.
Tahitian Cultured: Uniquely large-sized
and dark-colored (light grey to black, green, purple), these pearls command
high prices and are primarily grown in French Polynesia.
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A pearl shape that is not round, oval or button--any odd, misshapen shape.
If lustre and surface are good, these shapes are desirable because of their
Freshwater cultured pearl that is not round, but flatter in shape, with an oval
cross-section. Used on rings and earrings where a lower profile pearl
pearl which possesses an indentation surrounding the pearl as a latitude line
on a globe--it may be centered, as the equator, or located toward the "pole"
of the pearl.
Mabe: Hemispherical cultured pearl grown on
the inside shell rather than within the flesh of the oyster. This pearl
is used in rings and earrings where its flat back is not visible because it
is attached to the jewelry piece. Sources: Japan, Indonesia, French Polynesia,
The traditional and most sought-after shape, it commands the highest price.
Almost round, but slightly flattened. Similar to button, but
not as flat.
Pearls are sized by measuring their
diameter. Pearls above 9-10mm are much more rare and thus more costly than
Caring for Pearl Jewelry:
- Avoid contact with perfume and hairspray
- Put pearls on last, after applying makeup
- Wipe your pearls with a soft clean cloth
- Do not store pearls with other jewelry
A pendant is sold without a chain, which allows maximum flexibility of choice!
If a pendant includes the chain, it is usually referred to as a necklace.
The pendant is suspended from the chain by a bail (below), which is usually visible
at the top of the pendant, although some pendants have the bail on the back so that
it is not visible. Pendant dimensions usually include the bail. See
our great selection of Pendants and Charms
loop of metal on a pendant or a slide through which the necklace chain passes.
Chains must be sized to allow the chain closure to pass through the bail.
Some slides and pendants do not have a bail--instead, the chain passes through
the pendant itself. Bails may be attached to the pendant with a ring (movable),
or may be immovably attached. Some bail designs are actually clasps, which allow
the pendant to be easily replaced, such as a G-Lock (shaped like a "G"
when open) or Lobster clasp.
A pendant which has no bale--the chain passes through the slide itself, either
through holes or slots formed into it, or through an opening in the design.
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