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Jackie Kennedy once told us pearls are always appropriate and we agree. Belonging to a small group of precious, natural stones classified as organic gems, pearls are used in so many ways in jewellery.

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Symbolising love, happiness and success

Pearls have always been associated with love, happiness and success. We can see this in historical examples of pearls being worn by, for instance, Cleopatra, and today traditionally worn by brides and gifted to new mothers.

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Revered for unique beauty

Throughout history, pearls were unbelievably rare and only available to the upper classes of society. Today, scientific innovation has made it more readily available.

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Made from a living organism

In nature, a pearl is created when a foreign object, usually a grain of sand or a piece of shell, becomes trapped inside a shell.

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To protect itself from the irritant, the animal inside the mollusc begins to cover the object with nacre (mother of pearl). Over time, the irritant becomes completely enclosed in multiple layers of nacre, creating what we know as a pearl.

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Each is completely unique

Pearls require no cutting, faceting or polishing though, they are often worked to fit a given piece of jewellery. They are naturally formed and two are never the same.

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All shapes, all colours

Pearls come in a variety of shapes, colours and sizes – ranging from whole-round pearls and blister pearls to blisters – and form in both fresh and salt water.

How to judge a pearl's quality

The value of pearls is affected by six factors: lustre, surface, shape, colour, size and matching.

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Surface lustre

A pearl’s surface lustre is a measure of its brilliance and reflectivity, reflecting how 'shiny' or 'dull' it is. The lustre is influenced by the thickness and quality of the nacre: typically, the thicker the nacre, the greater the lustre.

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Surface blemishes

This plays an important role in the valuation of pearls. The fewer surface blemishes, the higher the value. Blemishes are visible bumps, marks, imperfections or small indentations on the surface, which give each pearl a unique 'fingerprint' of identifying factors.

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Pearls come in a wide variety of shapes divided into three broad categories: 1) Spherical (round), 2) Symmetrical (balanced and regular) and 3) Baroque (irregular or abstract).

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Described as a combination of the body colour and the overtone. Some also show the iridescent colour phenomenon known as 'orient', which refers to the shimmering, iridescent colours appearing to move and glitter when the pearl is turned.

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The larger the size of the pearl, the greater its value. Large pearls not only require larger molluscs to produce them, but they also require much more time to develop inside the mollusc, depending on the size of the nucleus.

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No two pearls are exactly alike. Therefore, pearls must be carefully sorted by colour, size and shape. When using more than one pearl in a jewellery design, they are matched precisely to ensure symmetry.

Love your pearl!

Never soak treated freshwater cultured pearls in water or rub them harshly as this could damage the nacre. Instead clean them by wiping them over with a very soft, clean cloth dampened in lukewarm soapy water. Then pat dry.

Lacquered artificial pearls

Clean a lacquered artificial pearl (a crystal core coated with an innovative lacquer resembling the opalescence of a pearl) with a clean, dry antistatic cloth. If dirt has built up over time, wipe gently with a clean microfibre or lint-free cotton cloth dampened in lukewarm, soapy water and pat dry with a clean, dry cloth.

Keep your Pandora perfect

Keep your Pandora collection as sparkly as you are! Discover how to clean your jewellery and give it the care it deserves.

Care set
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