Pearls 101 – What is a pearl?

Where does a pearl come from ? is a question we are often asked. There are many different types of pearl, some rarer than others, but before we start differentiating between them lets first understand how pearls are formed. Pearls are the product of the act of self-preservation by a mollusc, be it an oyster or a mussel. If the mollusc does not react in this way it will die.

In other words the creation of a pearl is caused by the protective reaction of an oyster or mussel to the accidental or deliberate 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, which in turn deposit concentric layers of nacre that surround the offending object and slowly form the pearl, layer by layer.

 

So …what is nacre ?

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Nacre is made up of calcium carbonate in the shape of tiny crystals called Aragonite. Calcium carbonate is also found in chalk, our teeth and various other everyday items. With a pearl the Aragonite crystals are held together with a glue-like protein called Conchiolin. In our teeth which are also made of calcium carbonate;  the protein that holds that Calcium Carbonate of our teeth together is stronger than Conchiolin hence when we are invited to “test” the genuineness of pearls against our teeth it is not only unhygienic but totally undesirable as our teeth will scratch the pearl.

 

What makes nacre?

Pearl Birth

Epithelial cells produce nacre and are therefore essential to pearl formation. They are found in a special tissue called the mantle which is found at the hinge and the edge of the molluscs flesh, as seen in the photograph shown. Nacre grows not only on pearls but also as mother of pearl on the interior of the shell. Nacre layers within the shell of the mollusc act as a protective shield against the outside world, making the mollusc less attractive as food to predators.  The only difference between pearls and mother of pearl is that in a pearl the layers are concentric and in mother of pearl they are flat or straight.

 

Where does a pearl gets its lustre from?

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Nacre layers play a vital role in the pearl’s lustre. Nacre layers are very thin, translucent and reflect light, thus creating the pearl’s distinctive lustre. Generally the thicker the nacre with regular, thin and translucent layers, the finer the lustre will be on the pearl. In other words lustre is caused by the reflection of light on the surface of the pearl and the refraction of light as it passes through the layers of nacre. This effect appears to make the pearl glow from within.

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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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?!

Back to School!

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The final throws of summer holidays are upon us but back to school needn’t mean doom and gloom! Coleman Douglas Pearls are trying desperately hard to not get carried away buying all the fabulous stationary in the shops . . . . We will have to settle for our colourful pearls instead of pens!

pearl alice band back to school blogA new school year was the perfect chance for a new look when we were young, but why should the kids have all the fun?! The Autumn/Winter 16 trends were so varied there was the perfect look for everyone. Firstly, ‘alice bands’ are no longer for just your daughters! Embrace the easy elegance like Kate and the rest of the ‘fashion’ pack and banish those pesky kirby grips to the bathroom cabinet and wear our pearl tiara instead of a boring black number.

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vogue autumn trends waterproofNext to be dug out of the wardrobe and reinvented is the waterproof jacket. Catwalks rarely combine fashion with comfort and practicality so make the most of this sporty trend this winter! Either dig out your “retro” waterproof (remember the one you bought years ago for it to be banished under the stairs…) or invest in a brightly coloured new one to chase away the grey. Here’s to looking forward to a winter downpour that doesn’t end in your umbrella turning inside out!

And if all else fails back to school means that you no longer have to think up increasingly more difficult ways to entertain the children. With all your time back you may be looking for some me time so pop on down to our pearl jewellery store! We have put the coffee machine ON in anticipation . . . .

 

 

The Queen turns 90 (again)!

The Queen 90With the Queen’s Official Birthday celebrations just around the corner, all of us here at Coleman Douglas Pearls want wish the Queen a very Happy Birthday (again)! This did get us all thinking however, what do you get the girl who has it all?! Over the years the queen has received a wide variety of gifts from the very generous to the bizarre.

Kate weddingOne of the more significant presents that the Queen received was the Cartier Halo Tiara – the same tiara that The Duchess of Cambridge wore on her wedding day. It is gorgeous and has a lovely family history to go with it. Three weeks before he was to become King, the then Duke of York went to Garrard to buy his wife a tiara (as you do). After the surprise abdication of his brother, the Duke of York became George VI. A few years later he and his wife Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother gifted that very tiara to our current Queen on her 18th birthday after which she wore it often.

queens horseAnother treasured gift came in a slightly more unusual form – Burmese the horse! As the Queen is well known for her love of horses, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police gave her Burmese as a present which was ridden by Her Majesty at the Trooping of the Colour from 1969 to 1986. As well as horses the queen has also received beavers, sloths and even an elephant.

When it emerged that after struggling to think of a present, the Duchess of Cambridge made The Queen some homemade chutney for Christmas, we put together some slightly more glamorous birthday ideas for the Queen in your life. We all know the Queen loves her pearl earrings and these South Sea pearls would put a smile on any girls face. You can never go wrong with a classic strand of pearls, and this tiara would make any little princess’s day!

 

Queen at 90 gifts