PEARLS – Seawater vs Freshwater

Now that you know how a pearl is formed from our last Blog it is time to explore the provenance and difference between saltwater pearls and freshwater pearls.

Saltwater pearls have their provenance in the PINTADINES

Seawater pearl producing shellfish are not in fact oysters. Although for ease everyone has and will continue to call pearl bearing shellfish oysters, for the most part, seawater pearl bearing molluscs belong to the Pintadine family. Within the Pintadine family there are seven pearl producing shellfish; unlike their edible sedentary namesakes, the Pintadines are not edible and are mobile from one generation to another.

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The mobility of the Pintadine shellfish is due to their reproductive cycle, when conditions are right one shellfish releases spermatozoa into the water; this act begins a chain reaction on all other pearl producing Pintadines in the area. They release eggs and spermatozoa into the water; which are mixed at the mercy of the currents and larvae is formed. The larva propels itself with a small foot in the water and grows into spat. At 45 days the spat is ½ inch long or approximately the size of your thumb nail, with the appearance of a very thin and transparent oyster.  It will, at this early stage, make the biggest decision of its existence: once this small spat finds a suitable spot in which to attach itself and grow, surrounded with plenty of light, food and warmth,  it can no longer move.

Once the spat is attached and has become a baby oyster much of its energy will go into growing mother of pearl layers to cover its shell. These nacre layers are in effect the oyster’s protection against hungry predators.

It is a miracle of nature that we have pearl bearing oysters at all! The existence of pearls rely on chance fertilisation, the avoidance of being eaten by predators and then the precarious decision of where to settle for life. If a life threatening piece of coral or shell is lodged in the flesh of the oyster before it is 3 years old or weak it will die.

Looking on the bright side if the oyster is alive and healthy at 3 years of age it is strong enough to withstand the introduction of a foreign body into its organism. As the intruder slices its way into the depths of the oysters ‘body’ it carries with it epithelial cells from the mantle, these cells form a pearl sac around the intruder and the epithelial cells start doing what they do best they deposit concentric layers of nacre that surround the offending object and slowly form the pearl, layer by layer, a miracle of nature. It is not surprising that this rarity is reflected in the value of pearls.

Freshwater pearls have their provenance in UNIONIDES

Freshwater mussels kept by Alfred, 1938

The Unionides produce the majority of the freshwater pearls that we know. These are bivalve shellfish, normally referred to as mussels or mulettes; they too are mobile and mainly inedible. The mobility of pearl producing mussels is also due to their reproductive cycle; in this case the fertilised egg enters the gills of a fish and feeds off its blood turning into larva. When the larva has been in the host fish for about two months and the fish reaches a particularly suitable stretch of water, the larva disengages from the fish and settles. It will usually choose a stretch of slow moving waters in a river or a suitable spot in a lake, the depth at which these mussels are found is between 1 and 1.5 metres from the surface. Hence when fishing for freshwater pearls they can be spotted by looking into a glass bottomed jar, which will give clarity to the water and enable the fisher to see if mussels have unusually protruding areas in the smooth outer shell. Pearls are formed when a small stone or a calcareous concretion lodges in the pearl bearing mussel and starts the formation of a pearl; these pearls have rounded surfaces although they can be of many different shapes. Their colours can be among others white, soft pink, mauve, heather, brown and pale grey.

How do you fish for Natural freshwater pearls?  Take your lead from Chrissie Douglas’s ancestor Alfred Smith who regularly sought pearls in the river Tay, a glass bottomed viewer and a staff to move things around in the river bed, as seen below, but be warned it is illegal nowadays to fish for pearls in Scotland!

Alfred pearl fishing 1, Inverurie

For more information on pearls visit our instagram page

Valentine’s Day Pearls

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we at Coleman Douglas Pearls will start popping open the champagne at our studio in Beauchamp Place. Here is a selection of our favourite Valentine’s Day appropriate pearls. We also have a section dedicated to Anniversary Gifts so please do have a browse and …see you soon !

 

 

 

 

Types of Pearls

cultured_grid_largeHere at Coleman Douglas Pearls we understand that there is a lot of mystery behind pearls and how they are formed into beautiful pieces of jewellery, but there doesn’t need to be. It’s quite simple really.

As you probably know, they are created by oysters and mussels. Oysters tend to only produce one pearl in its lifetime whereas mussels can create up to 120 pearls. Pearls are a result from the protective reaction of an oyster or mussel to accidental or deliberate introduction of a foreign body into its organism. This reaction creates concentric layers of nacre (mother of pearl) which are deposited on the foreign body covering it completely.

No two pearls are the same. They usually have some form of irregularity which all adds to the natural aspect of this lustrous gem.

There are four main types of pearls that we sell here at Coleman Douglas Pearls, there are South Sea, Tahitian and Akoya pearls which are formed in oysters and there are mussels formed freshwater pearls.

south_sea_white_gold_pearls_compactSouth Sea Pearls– tend to be 9-14mm in size and are produced in Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. They vary in shades of white and gold.tahitian_pearls_compact

Tahitian Pearls are similar in size to the South Sea pearls but come in a variety of colours from white to deep black through aubergine and blue, all shades have a grey over tone. Tahitian pearls are mainly produced in Tahiti (surprise) French Polynesia and Mexico although some can be found in Autralia.

Akoya pearls  were first cultivated in Japan, their size varies from 3-10mm in size and in colour they range from pink through to white, gold and grey.akoya_medium

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Freshwater pearls are  produced mainly in China and are the easiest to access type of pearl but beautiful none the less. Some of these pearls can be called Biwa pearls which this is a generic name as the most famous freshwater pearls originated in Lake Biwa in Japan.

For a more in depth over view of pearls have a read through here. Or come along to one of our pearl talks, more dates coming soon.

The Diamond Edit

neakdi_main_image_largeDiamonds and pearls have to be two of the most beautiful and recognizable gemstones. Here at Coleman Douglas Pearls we can’t get enough of them. Here is a blog post dedicated to the beautiful pairing.

For 1,000 years, starting in roughly the 4th century BC, India was the only source of diamonds. In 1725, important sources were discovered in Brazil, and in the 1870s major finds in South Africa marked a dramatic increase in the diamond supply. The stone’s name is derived from the Greek word adamas, which translates to “unconquerable”.

In ancient Rome, pearls were considered the ultimate symbol of wealth and social standing. The Greeks held the pearl in high esteem for both its unrivaled beauty and its association with love and marriage. Because pearls were (and are) so highly regarded, a number of European countries actually passed laws forbidding anyone but nobility to wear them, a bit like in the 18th century and beforehand when only royalty were seen with diamond engagement rings. ri1575_main_image_large_large

Putting these two gemstones together make for the absolute perfect engagement ring or gift for your loved one. They both represent eternal love and strength. As we adore pearls here at Coleman Douglas, we’ve got the most beautiful collections to show you. If you’ve got an idea in mind as to what you’re looking for (and you have some pearls in a locked drawer somewhere), bring them in and we’ll transform them into your perfect piece of jewellery.

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.

Mix and Match

One of the best things about pearls is their ability to go with anything. You can wear them with jeans, you can wear pearls with your black tie dress, even men can wear them. Get Pierce Brosnan wearing a solo Tahitian pearl on a leather cord or Johnny Depp in a Tahitian pearl stud earring any day.ne1632_main_image_large_large

Pearls with other gemstones is what gets us extra excited here at Coleman Douglas Pearls. For example; Sapphires and Tahitian pearls are the true meaning of match made in heaven. Aquamarine and white freshwater Pearls are the perfect twosome for a beautiful bride adding that ‘something blue’ element to the mix.

Other favourites are gems such as the rainbow of colours that Tourmaline brings, Prehenite, Black Diamonds, Rose Quartz, Peridot, Citrine and Amethyst, the list could go on and on. Whatever you feel like mixing and matching, our designer extraordinaire Chrissie Douglas will create it for you. Make sure you pop down to our studio to pick and choose your favourite gemstones.

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Last Minute Gift Ideas

Coleman Douglas Pearls is in a state of festive fun and cheer with only one week left until the big day! We understand that you will all be running around finalizing the last minute details but hope you manage to squeeze one last visit to us in before the new year! With pearls, champagne, truffles and coffee we are here to help with any last minute forgotten gifts or for those still searching for that one perfect special gift and this quick gift guide can give you a helping hand!

Gifts under £150:

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Gifts between £150 – £250:

MnM pearl ring + trufflecu1261pink+greylarge1648 £115

 

 

 

 

Gifts between £250-£500:

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classic white + petalsNE1832bl main image large

 

 

 

 

Gifts between £500-£1000:

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Gifts between £1000-£1500:

ss + moonstone pendant + rose3226 ta website.1pearl choker + flowers

 

 

 

 

Gifts over £1500:

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Pop into our Beacuchamp Place, London store in the next week and our pearl team will happily help you source the perfect gift and wrap it for you in our luxury Christmas gift wrap!

Our Christmas Gift Guide

zPinkChampagneTruffleTree-PinkEarringsQuestionMarkShape_24404December is here and the festivities are really starting to get us all excited here at Coleman Douglas Pearls. Don’t worry if you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping yet you have come to the right place! We can help you find presents for everyone you are looking for and wrap them in our luxury Christmas gift wrap to take all the stress out of the way for you!

c SMALL Freshwater Double Drop earrings in grey £168First up are the girls in your life, whether it be your mum, wife, sister, daughter, girlfriend . . . we guarantee we have something to suit all ages and tastes. Our classic double strand necklace in white was featured this year in Vogue’s 100 year anniversary edition and is perfect for both younger and older ladies. Paired with our large joy of life earrings this is the perfect combination for that special lady in your life to find under the tree!

Pearl, Tourmaline and diamond Pendant £2273We also do great gifts for younger girls with our white freshwater drop pendant and our small pearl studs. These don’t just come in white – we have also got them in pink, grey, peacock black and copper so you can find the perfect pearl for your girl! If, however, you are needing to pull out ALL the stops this Christmas our cognac diamond and south sea pearl necklace is the gift for you! Stunning glittering diamonds in shades between yellow and brown reflect perfectly with our golden and white south sea pearls making this a truly special piece for a truly special girl.

b SMALL Freshwater pearl cufflinks on silver £151And here come the boys! Our For Him range has everything a discerning gentleman could want with a wide variety of cufflinks and tie pins (which us girls also like to steal now and then to put on our pashminas . . . shhhhh!) we will find the pearl for your guy. You can’t go wrong with one of our classic biwa pearl tie pins they work with literally everything! If you’re looking to add some glamour into you’re man’s life then look no further than these tahitian pearl cufflinks – the perfect addition for those special occasions.

Pop by our pearl jewellery store this December and try some of our delicious prestat truffles with your coffee/tea or even a glass of champagne – you will deserve it after completing all your Christmas shopping!

Award winning pearls

47b-webOur designer Chrissie Douglas has won numerous design awards since starting her career, especially in her Tahitian pearl designs. Chrissie’s aim has always been to offer an investment in style and value by utilising her expert pearl knowledge coupled with an excellent network of suppliers. Her innovative and fresh use of pearls with semi-precious stones and other more unusual materials like leather, silk gauze, wood and felt have produced unique designs.

Titania warrior pic2Out of all the ranges that Chrissie has designed our favourite for the winter has to be the Warrior pearl collection. This collection never goes out of fashion as it is so edgy it enables the wearer to go full on Rock Chick or just to slightly toughen up an otherwise girly outfit. Mainly made from knotted leather and Tahitian pearls this range sure knows how to make an impact. Wear the Tahitian Warrior armband and earrings with your most feminine outfit this Christmas party season and you will be guaranteed to wow your friends.

cog dia ss ne + macaroonOur fine jewellery range is also perfect for all the glitz and glam of this time of year. Enhance your natural sparkle with our cognac diamond and south sea necklace – a great transitional piece through the seasons picking up on the golds of Christmas but also delicate enough to wear in the spring and summer. Other great investment pieces include our Tahitian pearl, diamond and rainbow moonstone pendant and matching earrings. The moonstone has a gorgeous adularescence effect where the light travels across the gem changing its colour from apparently colourless to gorgeous blues.

590.Paul ViantFor other final flourishes to your party outfit please bring a photo of you wearing the outfit along to our showrooms where our pearl team can then source the perfect finishing item. Whether you choose to go for an amazing statement necklace or a classic pair of earrings, here at Coleman Douglas Pearls we’ll have the piece for you!