I love working with freshwater pearls. They come in so many different shapes and a variety of colours. A simple pearl necklace knotted on silk is timeless and classic. They also look fabulous mixed with so many natural gemstones, often enhancing the stone and bringing out the true beauty of that particular stone. They have stood the test of time, while other types of jewellery come and go as quickly as the latest fad, pearls of any kind will be adored and appreciated and make you feel very special when you are wearing them. They are perfect for every style and occasion, all this at an affordable price when compared with saltwater pearls. It’s easy to see why pearls are the hottest trend in today’s contemporary designs. They look great mixed in with sterling silver chain in a long necklace, which can then be worn with shorter strands of pearls or layered with co-ordinating pieces for a very chic look. Another advantage of freshwater pearls is their innate durability, which naturally resists chipping, degeneration and wear.
While colours are most commonly silver-white, and most rarely black, almost any colour in between can also occur. Even in the most common and least common tints, there are colour overtones which reflect across the surface of a pearl. In fact, when you look at, or describe a pearl, you are most likely to describe the combination of the colour itself, along with the overtone colours, to provide a clearer image of what the individual pearl is really about. For example, a pearl that is described as a “pearl with a pink overtone” will be the description of a silver-white pearl, with pinks that reflect on it.
Pearls will shimmer with iridescent colours that swirl, move and glitter as the light changes, or as the pearl is moved. This effect, like overtone, is a result of the reflecting of light throughout the various nacre layers that compose the pearl. The colour of a pearl is produced by the oyster as the pearl is being formed.
Freshwater pearls are a sweet, smaller and often more irregularly shaped type of pearl that can be grown in a number of different species of freshwater mussels. A freshwater pearl is produced when twenty or more tiny tissue grafts are implanted into the thick mantle of a living mussel. Depending on the species, different results will be produced. From the point when the injections are made, it takes between 2 and 6 years to produce the pearls, with each mussel producing up to 50 pearls. Freshwater pearls will form with a lower amount of organic material in their nacre than those which are created as a result of marine pearl oysters. This lacking in organic material allows the freshwater pearls to have a unique, glassy lustre.
More recently, the Chinese have brought freshwater pearl farming to new levels, creating pearls of much higher quality, making them quite comparable – in fact, almost indistinguishable – from their saltwater cousins. This is a favourable breakthrough for those who wish for beauty without the price tag. They are a much more affordable alternative to the expensive saltwater pearls, but with little-to-no drop in quality or appearance.