We have adorned ourselves with pearls longer than any other gemstone, and their outstanding beauty makes it easy to see why. For many years pearls wore the crown as the world's most expensive gemstone (although not strictly a stone, pearls are often categorised as such.) One of the rarest and oldest pieces of pearl jewellery dates back to 520 BC; the fragments of pearl belonged to a Persian Princess and they can be seen at du Musée du Louvre, Paris.
As pearls are formed inside molluscs, their organic surroundings and conditions can alter the appearance of the pearls they produce. Pearls which are produced in the wild are very rare and difficult to harvest. This has led us to cultivate pearls so that we have a continuous supply for increasing jewellery demands. Only a small percentage of oysters create pearls, and for those that do, the pearl itself is created almost by accident when a foreign object such as a grain of sand enters the shell and gets covered with layer upon layer of nacre. This nacre (pronounced Nay-Ker) is what gives pearls such a smooth and beautiful surface on which to reflect light in their own unique way.
To get this accidental beauty, we can artificially place small particles such as sand inside the oysters. This ensures that it will become a stunning pearl fit for a gorgeous pearl necklace. The process is completely natural, and pearls formed in this way are often referred to as "cultured" pearls.
Freshwater & Saltwater Pearls
Freshwater pearls are cultivated from freshwater molluscs found in lakes, rivers and ponds. One mollusc can naturally create up to 50 pearls at a time. It takes several years for a pearl to grow. Saltwater pearls, such as the oriental Akoya Pearls, are created in oysters found in the ocean and are a lot harder to come by than freshwater pearls. However, in the last few years it has been increasingly possible to harvest rounder, stunning quality freshwater pearls with a full nacre and brilliant lustre. Freshwater pearls are now the most popular of the two for this reason, and at QP Jewellers we source high quality natural freshwater pearls for all our beautiful pearl jewellery.
Pearls by QP Jewellers
There are three main factors we consider when selecting pearls for our beautiful jewellery designs: size, shape and colour.
Varying sizes can depend on the conditions experienced during cultivation. At QP Jewellers we use freshwater pearls which tend to range in size from 3.0 to 7.0mm. Other pearl varieties include Akoya Pearls (see above), South Sea Pearls, and the largest: the Tahitian Pearl.
Our pearl jewellery designers incorporate a variety of shapes into their work. We primarily use round pearls which are generally considered to be of the highest quality. However, we also have a large selection of fabulous oval pearl jewellery. From necklaces to rings and earrings, our oval and round shaped pearl jewellery has been expertly designed to show off and sometimes exaggerate the centre pearl, flaunting its best qualities.
We offer several shades of colour in our pearl jewellery collections. White, white-rose and silver pearls are used in our designs to compliment both secondary gemstones and metal colour.
We also have a selection of rare black pearl pieces. Black pearls are not very common as conditions have to be just right for them to be produced. When a speck of sand lands near the interior edge of a Black-lipped Tahitian oyster, the pearling process will draw black colouration in towards the pearl from the oyster's lips. We have some fantastic combinations of black pearl jewellery, each piece exquisitely crafted with many years of experience. Click here to read about caring for your pearls.