PEARL JEWELRY TYPES
Some of the oldest pearl jewelry ever found was a pair of pearl and gold dangle earrings dating back to the Roman Empire! Due to the low-tech drilling techniques of early craftsmen, pearl earrings were mostly limited to dangles and hoop designs. The advent of smaller, more precise drills gave us an enduring classic: the pearl stud earring. PurePearls.com offers fine pearl stud earrings, dangle and pearl hoop earrings in all popular pearl types, with and without diamond or gemstone accents.
A pearl necklace is a matched strand of pearls traditionally knotted on silk and finished with a gold or diamond and gemstone-accented clasp. Coveted by royalty and the very rich for centuries, a matched necklace of natural pearls was a rare and very valuable treasure; today using cultured pearls, pearl necklaces are an affordable heirloom for all. Necklaces can be any length, but the most common are the choker, princess length and opera length. To learn more about pearl necklace lengths visit our Necklace Length Guide.
A cultured pearl pendant is usually made up of one to three pearls hung from a single bale on a gold or sterling silver chain. The pearls are usually mounted with or without diamond or gemstone accents, and can be any size from dainty 3.0mm pearls to large and luminous 15.0mm pearls and even larger! For the best display, we recommend solitaire pearl pendants of at least 7.5mm in size, but our personal favorites are pearl pendants that measure at least 10.0mm! Smaller pearls are generally better off being worn higher up, closer to the hollow of the throat, while larger pearls can be displayed farther down on longer chains.
Pearl bracelets are matched strands of pearls made to fit around the wrist; these are traditionally single, double or triple-strand configurations, but may be many more depending on the designer and pearls used. Pearl bracelets are also available in Tin Cup or “Station-Style” designs, where individual pearls are wire-wrapped into place on a gold or sterling silver chain, sometimes with gemstone accents. Most often available in Japanese Akoya or Chinese Freshwater cultured pearls, Tahitian and even South Sea pearl bracelets can be created upon special request.
Matched pearl jewelry sets usually consist of 2 or 3-pieces of pearl jewelry items, usually pearl necklaces, bracelets and earrings, or pendants and earrings sets. Traditionally the pearls are all matched within 0.5mm or less, although slightly graduated matched sets can also be created on request. We recommend going no more or less than 1.0mm size difference in pearls – usually the earrings will be slightly smaller than a pendant or a pearl necklace. Necklaces and bracelets should all be the same sizes. PurePearls.com matches all pearl jewelry by hand to ensure that pearl size, body color, overtones and luster all match perfectly.
The famous Add-a-Pearl necklaces began when only natural pearls were available. This was a wonderful way to gift a young lady with a full strand of natural pearls as she reached adulthood. Traditionally a pearl would be given with each birthday and added onto the necklace. The necklace was usually metal wire so that it would hold its shape. There are a few issues with trying to create an Add-a-Pearl Necklace these days that should be mentioned:
1) It’s very expensive! Pearls purchased individually will be more expensive than pearls purchased in a matched hank. Add in postage costs to and from the jeweler every year and labor, and it can add up!
2) The pearls will not ‘age’ at the same rate, ending with a necklace that’s not perfectly matched. Pearls are porous gemstones that absorb oils, sweat, perfume, cosmetics, smoke, etc., and tend to deepen to a unique cream color as they get older.
3) The old solution of placing pearls on a neck wire damages pearls where they are most vulnerable: the drill shaft. Nacre begins to chip and peel, especially if they haven’t been wrapped into place (and you wouldn’t really want to do that, as there would then be large metal knots in between pearls!), and having a partial necklace on silk doesn’t look too great, either. Coming up with a practical solution to this conundrum is difficult.
If your heart is set on creating an Add-a-Pearl necklace, we would recommend purchasing a full hank of pearls all at once, and then giving one (or a few!) each year at birthdays, etc., and knotting them onto silk. This way, the pearls stay perfectly matched and age at the same rate, and you’re not spending a ton of money on shipping the pearls back and forth. We would recommend waiting to have a professional stringing job done until all the pearls have been assembled.
Men’s Pearl Jewelry
In previous centuries, men’s pearls have been much more elaborate (along with all other jewelry styles, but over the years, the preferred pearl jewelry designs for men have evolved over the years to be subtle, masculine and elegant. Tahitian or Akoya pearl cufflinks, pearl tie tacks or a perfectly placed pearl lapel pin has remained a staple for generations, and our modern, more casual pearl on leather neckpieces add a touch of laid-back charm to his daily outfits.