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Pearl Colors: Every Color of the Rainbow
Pearls are available in just about every color that you can imagine. Jewelers call the range of colors that pearls offer, a “palette of colors”. These can be white, yellow, golden, pink, blue, black, lavender, multicolor and just about any color you can think of in between! When referring to the color of the pearl, it is the body of the pearl that is considered to be the primary shade.
While pearl colors are most commonly silver-white, and most rarely the coveted black pearl, almost any color in between can also occur. Moreover, even in the most common and least common tints, there are color overtones which reflect across the surface of a pearl. In fact, when you look at, or describe a pearl, you – just like the jeweler – are most likely to describe the combination of the color itself, along with the overtone colors, to provide a clearer image of what the individual pearl is really about. For example, a pearl that is described as a “pearl with a pink overtone” will be the description of a silver-white pearl, with pinks that reflect on it.
Pearls also have a coloring effect called “orient”, which refers to any shimmering, iridescent colors that swirl, move, and glitter, as the light changes, or as the pearl is moved. This effect, like overtone, is a result of the reflecting of light throughout the various nacre layers that compose the pearl.
The color of a pearl is produced by the oyster as the pearl is being formed. Though the color of the pearl has very little impact on the actual quality of the pearl, the perceived beauty of it has an effect on its value. Trends and rarity of color play on the “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” rule, and change the cost of a given pearl based on its color, rather than its quality.
The culturing of pearls, and the ever-evolving technologies and understandings that go along with it, have introduced a great number of new colors to the pearl marketplace which would never have been available solely from natural saltwater pearls. While, for a time, it wasn’t uncommon for fads to drive pearl sellers to artificially paint or dye their pearls, this has gone out of style – at least until the next fad…
When selecting the right pearl color to buy, the most basic guideline you should follow – next to overall personal taste – is matching the pearl to the skin tone of the wearer. For example, women who have fair or light colored skin will usually feel that pearls with rose overtones flatter their skin tone the best. Women who tan easily or who have darker skin will usually be complimented best by silver overtones.
If you are buying pearls for someone else, the color should be based on the personal preference of the wearer, as opposed to your own taste. This is because pearls, in their uniqueness, also tend to be gems about which wearers feel quite particular.
If possible, have the future wearer try on the actual pearls before buying them, to see how they look. If the gift is a surprise, work with what you know of the recipient’s taste, and skin tone…along with the recommendations of a knowledgeable salesperson.
If you have any questions about pearl color, selection, overtones - anything pearl related, please give us a call at 1-800-762-0977 and we'd be glad to answer your questions and show the pearl jewelry right for you.