Become a connoisseur of natural pearls in 10 easy steps: Part 2

Following on from our last blog, we continue to supply you with top tips on how to recognise natural pearls.

Natural pearls are RARE  The rarity value means that the price a natural pearl commands is usually ten times the price of its cultured counterpart unless the pearl in question is particularly large, of a sought after shape or has been worn by celebrities as is the case of La Peregrina in which case it can go through the roof.

The IT factor natural pearl  – One of the most famous seawater natural pearls is La Peregrina a drop shape natural pearl which was discovered in the Americas, it was given by Phillip II of Spain to Mary Tudor as a wedding gift. On her death it returned to Spain and was taken to France. Prince Louis Napoleon sold it to the marquis of Abercorn in 1837, the marquis’s son, drilled La Peregrina and recorded its exact weight, 10.192 grams [ over 50 carats in weight]. When, in 1969, Elizabeth Taylor bought a pearl reputed to be the Peregrina for $37,000, its authenticity was challenged. However, due to the exact record of its weight being kept, experts were able to confirm that it was indeed the famous pearl. It was recently sold again by Christies Auction House, for 10 million dollars plus saleroom fees! Goes to show what celebrity status can do for a pearls perceived value.

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Oysters get Blisters!  Natural oyster blister pearls can be started by a parasite like a crab that settles in the shell, or a worm that drills through the oyster shell and dies, or larva that obstructs a duct within the shell becomes infected and is then covered with the epithelial cells that protect the mollusc. These pearls have a flat surface on one side because they have been grown on the inside of the shell.

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Oysters can bear seed pearls Natural pearls which are 2mm in diameter or smaller are called seed pearls, they were particularly popular in Victorian times, on “parures” a set of necklace bracelets and earrings. Which were tiny pearls sewn onto mother of pearl ornamental shapes and strewn together. Horse hair was used to string the pearls, the horse had to be alive when hairs were plucked from its tail for longest durability and flexibility. The drill holes on these pearls are tiny and only maidens were allowed to make these popular Victorian jewellery sets, presumably because it was only very young eyes who could see well enough to stitch these pearls onto the mother of pearl backs. Dust pearls are also around and as their name implies they are but specks of irritation, not really worth bothering with.

 

One more blog to come on the this beautiful gem – the natural pearl!

 

Become a connoisseur of natural pearls in 10 easy steps: Part 1

Here are some key tips and facts on how to recognise a natural pearl!

Natural pearl vs not natural pearl … that is the question. On the exterior and to the naked eye, there is no obvious difference between a natural pearl and a cultured pearl. The difference arises from the fact that a natural pearl is formed accidentally and without any human intervention, while a cultured pearl is started by the introduction of an irritant by man, after which the process is continued solely by the metabolism of the living mollusc. In both cases the formation of a pearl is the result of the self-preservation reaction of the mollusc.  If it does not get expel the irritant it must cover it in nacre, otherwise it will die.

LadyDysart Natural FW pearl Necklace

The chances of finding a seawater natural pearl are 1 in 5000. The term natural pearl implies accidental formation without any human intervention. A natural pearl is caused by the protective reaction of an oyster or mussel to the accidental introduction of a foreign body into its organism. This reaction starts by the mollusc covering the intruder with epithelial cells which will form a pearl sac around the intruder, the pearl sac deposits concentric layers of nacre that surround the offending object and slowly form the pearl, layer by layer. Natural pearls can be formed in seawater or in freshwater.

Make a pearl or … DIE Natural pearls occur when a piece of shell, coral, bone or a large piece of grit hooks into the flesh of the oyster, it breaks the surface of the epithelial cells and carries with it epithelial or nacre producing cells. The oyster tries to expel the intruder but if it is unable to dislodge the irritant, this foreign body will start the formation of a pearl. A grain of sand is hardly ever involved in the production of a natural pearl as the oyster lives in sand and can easily expel it. Elisabeth Strack an eminent pearl specialist of our day discovered another way in which a natural pearl can be formed, refer to the diagram shown, if the epithelial cells covering of the mantle is broken and these crucial nacre making cells travel as a group into the mantle, this in turn will form a pearl sac and a natural pearl will be born.

Edited E Strack Epithelial cell diagram

Stay tuned for part 2! Soon you will be an expert!

Pearls real or fake? That IS the question: how to tell the difference between a real and a fake pearl

You have discovered what a pearl is and how a pearl is formed. Having skated past the difference between saltwater an freshwater pearls, we are now ready to tackle the BIG question, one that is put to me almost every week, “how do I know if a pearl is authentic, how can I tell if my pearls are real or imitation?”

Firstly, let’s clarify what we mean by real pearls. To most people this would mean a pearl which is made by a mollusc either wild or cultured, as a saltwater or freshwater pearl, as opposed to fake or imitation, which is man made.  Strictly speaking, a real pearl is a pearl which is formed in nature and the only human involvement is to find it, hence a real pearl should be a natural pearl.  But for the sake of simplicity in this Blog let’s talk about natural and cultured pearls vs. imitation or fake pearls or beads.

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“My pearls are old, they were given to me by my grandmother … so they MUST be real!” – Think again!

The first ever imitation pearls were worn by Elizabeth I who wore wax filled Venetian glass beads with an iridescent finish. These were sewn onto her dress in the 1600’s . They were the first “pearl impostors” and at the time they cost 1 penny each.

The first fake pearl, as we know it today, was created in France by Mr Jacquin who concentrated fish slime from a Bleak and mixed it with varnish in the 17th Century. He called it “Essence of Orient”. This method is still used to this day to make man made fish slime covered plastic beads, the main producer of which is Majorica. The fish slime that is used today comes from salmon and herring.

There is another method to produce imitation or fake pearls: coating plastic beads with acrylic paint. A factor worth considering is that this coating will easily chip off.

Recently a  new type of imitation pearl has entered the marketplace. They are deceptively called “semi-cultured pearls” or “shell pearls” both of which are misnomers. These new imitations are made with crushed mother of pearl mixed with resin, aka plastic. If they have overtones, these will be uniform throughout the strand.

Imitation “pearls” cannot enhance the beauty of the wearer nor attract the eye of the beholder in the same way that true pearls do, as the calcium carbonate crystal structure needed for a pearl to glow is not present. This also means that imitations have no play of light, reflection, refraction, colour or overtones.

Do not be deceived by imitation pearls; they might be expensively designed, packaged or even have individual certificates, but they have no lustre or inner glow. They shine on the surface and do little for their owner and, worse of all, imitation pearls are intrinsically worthless.

The best way to tell the difference is to rub one pearl against another: if it is imitation they will feel smooth, if they are authentic, either cultured pearls or natural pearls you will sense grittiness or traction, this is because you are picking up the microscopic level differences between the tiny calcium carbonate crystals called Aragonite which are held together by the glue like protein called  conchiolin.

We hold regular and very informative pearl talks at our studio. To find out when the next talk held at our studio at 42 Beauchamp Place, Knightsbridge, London SW3 1NX

 

Pearls, Fashion & Afternoon Tea

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If you were invited to the Best of Britain Luxury Shopping event last week but couldn’t make it, here are a few highlights! The event was at the luscious Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge and it brought together some new and some established luxury ladies brands for an afternoon of tea, cakes, champagne, pearls and shopping! Gomez-Grazia, the celebrity endorsed fashion brand hosted us and other brands including swimwear, diamonds and even super luxurious hairpieces. We invited all our lovely clients – thank you to those who made it and we hope you enjoyed yourself. Ten percent of all sales went to The Great Ormond Street Hospital and a three lucky shoppers won complimentary nights in top hotels in Paris, Monaco and Geneva.

One of our youngest clients, aged 16, was treated to a pink freshwater drop pendant. Her warm skin tones and Gaelic colouring, with dark hair and blue eyes, meant that pink was her colour! She also suited the peacock black pearls, but young and pretty calls for pink!

The gorgeous Anna is wearing a stunning Gomez Grazia evening gown and a load of our white freshwater pearl bracelets (you can never wear too many!).

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The Gold Edit

This week the team at Coleman Douglas Pearls have decided to showcase just how well Pearls match with everyone’s favourite metal, Gold.

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Why do we love gold so much? It was the first metal to be widely known to the human race, beautiful, shiny and malleable it has been the favourite ever since. The Incas referred to gold as the “tears of the Sun” which is rather romantic. Gold is dispersed widely throughout the geologic world, its discovery occurred to many different groups in many different locales, and nearly everyone who found it was impressed with it as was the developing culture in which they lived. Gold’s early uses were ornamental, and its brilliance and permanence (it neither corrodes nor tarnishes) linked it to deities and royalty in early civilizations. It’s never gone out of fashion and we don’t see it ever doing so any time soon.

With Gold being ‘tears of the sun’ let’s match it with our favourite gemstone and what the Georgian and Victorian eras symbolized Pearls as “tears of mourning”. The earliest record we have of pearls as precious objects are artifacts from Mesopotamia dated to around 2300 B.C and recently, a two thousand year old pearl was found in an Australian Aboriginal archaeological dig in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The Persian Gulf was one of the main sources of natural pearls for centuries, as were Venezuela & Panama where pearls were discovered by Christopher Columbus and Vasco de Balboa on their travels. Natural ‘real’ pearls are very rare these days and are worth thousands. Cleopatra won a bet that she could provide Marc Antony with a banquet costing more than the assets of a country. She took off a pearl earring, dissolved it in wine and drank it. How’s that for value!

We have lots of variations of pearls, gems and metals and don’t forget that we create bespoke designs, so if you have any of grannies pearls and gold lying around come in and meet our pearl specialist and designer Chrissie Douglas who will come up with a beautiful new design and make a match made in heaven.

Hope to see you at our studio soon at 42 Beauchamp Place, Knightsbridge, London.

Queen Victoria and Royal Jewels

Victoria itvWe have been struck with Royal fever here at Coleman Douglas Pearls as we are absolutely hooked on ITV’s new period drama Victoria! Apparently it is not far from the truth with Victoria’s diaries being used heavily in the research to the show. And oh the jewelleryPearls galore on top of stunning pieces still in existence today!

Below is a brief introduction to a couple of our favourite Victorian jewels.

_GeorgeIVStateDiademUp first is the George IV State Diadem made in 1820 originally for King George IV himself! The diadem features a set of 4 crosses pattée alternating with 4 bouquets of roses, thistles, and shamrocks. The motifs are set on a band of diamond scrollwork between two bands of pearls.
The front cross is set with a 4 carat yellow diamond, and the piece features an incredible 1,333 diamonds in all. This diadem was a firm favourite of Victoria’s and she even wore it to the christening of two of her children! It is also popular with our current Queen who reserves it for state occasions and to and from the opening of parliament.

queen in pearlsNext is Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Necklace given to her in 1887 by a committee of ladies who were raising money for a commemorative statue of Victoria’s late husband Prince Albert. Having raised far more than was needed for the statue it was agreed that the excess money was to go to the St. Katherine’s Fund for Nurses and for a necklace to be made for Victoria. However, some of the committee did not think that the money should be spent on a necklace. With the group divided and Victoria apparently fuming that she would not get her necklace this was the £5000 compromise reached!
Made from gold, diamonds and pearls it features a central quatrefoil diamond motif with a large central pearl, topped by a crown and underlined with a drop pearl. Ever practical this necklace is a multi tasking piece with the central piece and the six largest trefoils can be worn as brooches. Again this necklace has found a fan with Queen Elizabeth II who often pairs it with the Grand Duchess Vladimir’s Tiara with pearls.

So now you know a bit about the jewellery…which is your favourite piece?!

Water for hot chocolate

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In the Autumn we, Coleman Douglas Pearls, will be launching our latest collection “Water For Hot Chocolate”, pairing gorgeous copper brown pearls with smoky quartz and citrine, making the designs so enticing you’re bound to have chocolate cravings!
So with that in mind our pearl team have decided to fully embrace the cravings and are going to talk about all things chocolate!

Chocolate_Olympia_Other_0Being three dedicated chocoholics we could think of nothing better than attending The Chocolate Show in October. Running from 16th -18th October at London Olympia get ready to loosen those waist belts and delve into the wonderful world of chocolate with famous chefs, free tasters and a fabulous chocolate fashion show!

prestat hot chocolateIf you can’t wait until October to get your chocolate fix we recommend a good dose of copper pearls and a trip to ‘Chocolatiers to the Queen’ – Prestat. Not only does Prestat produce the most INCREDIBLE truffles in all sorts of fun flavours they also do an incredibly indulgent hot chocolate range! Keep your eyes peeled for our next news update which will surely tempt you chocoholics this upcoming season . . . . .

Whilst the remainder of the summer sun lasts we will try and resist temptation and stick to the fruit at our Pearl Jewellery store. However, as soon as the leaves start to turn and the jumpers go back on we know our faithful friend will be there waiting for us!

Rio Olympics 2016

rio 2016The Olympics have arrived!! Four years after London hosted the 2012 (cough “best” cough) games, all of us here at Coleman Douglas Pearls can’t believe its four years later and are ready for the Rio party! After watching the amazing opening ceremony we couldn’t help but keep our eyes peeled to see a few of the athletes rocking their pearls!

Jessica eniis and missy franklin

Hopefully emulating some of their 2012 success are GB heptathlete Jessica Ennis Hill (who chose pearls for her wedding day) and USA swimmer Missy Franklin who is rarely seen without her pearl studs – even when in the pool! And with Brazil being the birthplace of many a top model (especially Gisele strutting her stuff at the opening ceremony!)  it is likely Rio will be one of the most fashionable Olympics ever! We will have our fingers crossed that pearls will be winning gold more than once!

Beach East 3If your looking for a sociable way to enjoy the Olympics why not try BeachEast at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The largest urban beach in the UK is returning with a Copacabana feel! As one of TeamGB’s official fan zones they will be broadcasting live coverage of the games and offering you a chance to take part in some of the sports that the athletes are competing in.

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The party atmosphere also got us thinking – what pearls would you wear to the Brazilian fiesta? This south sea and tourmaline necklace has to be worth considering, with its bright colours and happy pearl drop you can’t go wrong wearing this to samba the night away.

Sale! …Royal Pearls For Sale!

Spanish Royal 1Yes you heard right, a beautiful natural pearl necklace, once belonging to the Spanish Royal Family, is being sold in 2 days time at Christie’s… interested? Our Pearl Team are! These rare 19th century natural pearls were collected by King Ferdinand VII of Spain for his wife Marie Christina of Bourbon -Two Sicilies, they were inherited by their daughter Queen Isabella II of Spain. Later they were sold to Frank H. Hargrove, Esq, where they have remained ever since.

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Do you dream of owning natural pearl jewellery?

With earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings, Coleman Douglas Pearls is the place for you, with our Pearl Specialist on hand to help you find the perfect pearls.

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Natural pearls occur when a piece of shell, coral or large piece of grit hooks into the flesh of an oyster. The oyster will try to expel the intruder but if it is unable to dislodge the irritant, the ‘foreign body’  will be covered in layer upon layer of nacre. A grain of sand is hardly ever involved in the production of a natural pearl as the oyster lives in sand and can easily expel it.

Natural Pearl 2One of the most famous seawater natural pearls is La Peregrina a drop shaped natural pearl which was discovered in the Americas, it was given by Phillip II of Spain to Mary Tudor as a wedding gift. On her death it returned to Spain and was taken to France. Prince Louis Napoleon sold it to the marquis of Abercorn in 1837, the marquis’s son, drilled La Peregrina and recorded its exact weight, 10.192 grams [ over 50 carats in weight]. In 1969, Elizabeth Taylor was given La Peregrina by Richard Burton, Mr Burton is recorded to have paid $37,000 in 1969 for La Peregrina, two years ago it sold for 10 million dollars plus saleroom fees!

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Do you desire to learn more about natural pearls?
Book a place for one of our Pearl Talks happening in the New Year, an event not to be missed.