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"Diamonds are a girl's best friend"
Pearl Jewels Queen Elizabeth I, Jackie O. and Madonna all had a passion for pearls -- and wore them for different reasons. Whether draped to signify purity, clasped in a single strand for an air of sophistication or piled on for a party look, pearls come in enough colors, shapes and styles to fit any fashion statement.
Pearls will be on parade as the pinnacle of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History's Ninth Annual Gem & Mineral show this weekend, as vendors and collectors from Pittsburgh to Russia showcase and sell jewels and stones of all colors.
A pearl strand ($24,500) of cultured freshwater pearls
with metallic peacock overtones from China is for sale at the Moses Jewelers
booth at the Gem & Mineral Show at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
By Brianna Horan Found at the
Friday, November 17, 2006
In fitting with the show's theme, jeweler Bailey Banks & Biddle will exhibit rare and exotic Mikimoto pearls, which are referred to as hanadama, or "flower pearls," denoting them as the highest quality of pearls.
When Larry Moses of Moses Jewelers in Butler learned that pearls would be featured, he pulled together a broad collection to bring to the jeweler's eighth appearance at the show.
"We like pearls. They're magical and classical, they're soft and they're feminine," Moses says. "We'll have some natural black Tahitian pearls, some natural white South Sea pearls, and we'll have freshwater pearls of multiple shapes and natural colors like peach, lavender and champagne."
Pearls are different in that they emerge from the earth -- or sea, rather -- ready to be worn. Diamonds are found in the rough, but pearls are plucked straight from Mother Nature's jewelry box. They are the result of an irritant as simple as a grain of sand that becomes caught within the shell of a mollusk. Layers of opulent nacre are secreted around the irritant to protect and soothe the mollusk from irritation. This can occur naturally, or man can culture pearls by implanting a tiny bead in the mollusk's body to hasten the process.
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Carnegie Museum of Natural History's Ninth Annual Gem & Mineral Show
When: November 17,18
Where: Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 4400 Forbes Ave.,
1. Apply any cosmetics, perfume and/or hairspray
before putting on your pearls. If the pearls will be touching your skin,
leave that area free of cosmetics or perfumes.
2. Don't take pearls into the pool because the
chlorine can affect their luster.
3. Clean your pearls periodically with warm water and
mild, non-detergent soap. Never put pearls in an ultrasonic cleaner or
use anything containing ammonia.
4. Have your pearl strand re-strung every year or so
by a jeweler.
Where: Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland
1. Apply any cosmetics, perfume and/or hairspray before putting on your pearls. If the pearls will be touching your skin, leave that area free of cosmetics or perfumes.
2. Don't take pearls into the pool because the chlorine can affect their luster.
3. Clean your pearls periodically with warm water and mild, non-detergent soap. Never put pearls in an ultrasonic cleaner or use anything containing ammonia.
4. Have your pearl strand re-strung every year or so by a jeweler.
Amid the endless number of colors, shapes and styles of pearl jewelry, none is as signature as a single strand of pearls worn around the neck. Moses believes there are few pieces of jewelry so versatile.
"We are firm believers that, if a woman has a wonderful strand of pearls, she should wear it to Giant Eagle this morning and wear it to Heinz Hall this evening," Moses says.
Selecting the perfect strand of pearls can be overwhelming with so many different lengths, shines, colors and prices. A 16- to 18-inch long necklace with round pearls measuring between 5 and 6 millimeters makes a "fine entry-level strand of pearls," says Moses, and should cost about $500.
Selecting a Strand
When swimming through a sea of pearls, it's important to consider seven "Pearl Value Factors," according to the Gemological Institute of America, an independent nonprofit educational and research organization.
Size: Pearl size is measured in millimeters; the bigger the pearl the higher the price.
Shape: There are three main categories to pearl shape: spherical, symmetrical, and baroque. An example of a symmetrical pearl is an oval, while baroque pearls are irregular in shape.
Color: With cultured pearls, look at body color -- the main color of a pearl -- and, if present, overtone -- any translucent colors that overlie the bodycolor, like blush on a woman's cheek. A third component of some pearls' color is orient, which looks like a moving iridescence on or just below a pearl's surface when present.
Luster: This is the intensity of light reflected from a pearl's surface. In general, more lustrous pearls will have a higher value. The institute uses the terms excellent, good, and fair to describe luster on cultured pearls.
Surface quality: This factor looks at the blemishes, or surface irregularities, on a pearl, like bumps, abrasions and spots; the visibility of the irregularities will affect the cost. Very few pearls, however, are completely free of blemishes.
Nacre quality: Fine nacre quality means that a cultured pearl has a reasonable thickness of nacre around the implanted irritant, as well as a high luster.
Matching" This is the uniformity of appearance in all the pearls in a piece of jewelry.
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