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All About Freshwater Pearls

August 13, 2019 3 min read

‘The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.’ Federico Fellini

Pearls are considered to be the oldest gemstone in the world and have been worn as an adornment for thousands of years. So what are pearls and where do they come from? From its beginning as a grain of sand, the transformation into a shimmering, luminous gemstone makes pearls uniquely fascinating.

Pearls are grown by molluscs that live in freshwater lakes and rivers, or saltwater seas and oceans, all around the world. Natural pearls are formed within molluscs when a small organic particle becomes trapped within the mollusc's mantel. The mollusc defends itself by covering the tiny intrusion with mother of pearl (the same material that creates the shimmering interior of its shell). Sometimes, over tens of years, this continues to grow into a pearl.

Only found exceptionally rarely in wild molluscs, wild pearls are regarded for their scarcity and beauty. Natural pearl diving is now banned or heavily controlled in almost every country in the world to protect the incredibly valuable oyster beds, so natural pearls have become extremely rare and demand huge prices. The innovation of cultured, or farmed, freshwater pearls has made this elegant gemstone available for all to enjoy.

It was around the end of the 19th Century when scientists worked out how to recreate the birth of a pearl. A cultured pearl is created by farming molluscs under carefully controlled conditions. Cultured pearls can be farmed using freshwater river mussels and saltwater oysters but the vast majority of cultured pearl jewellery uses freshwater cultured pearls. Now, after one hundred years of pearl farming, extremely high quality pearls of various sizes, shapes and colours can be grown. High quality cultured pearls are available at a fraction of the price of natural pearls. It is important to note that cultured pearls are still called "real pearls", and should never be confused with low-quality substitutes such as shell beads, coated acrylic beads, and crystal pearls. All Azendi pearl jewellery uses genuine freshwater cultured pearls.

 Freshwater Pearl Necklace‘One shining quality lends lustre to another.’ William Hazlitt

Forming its colour from the nacre found on the inner shell of the mollusc where it grows, an iridescent freshwater cultured pearl displays a spectrum of shimmering hues within its depths. Universally flattering, the pearl’s milky white tone adds instant luminosity to the face and works perfectly against all skin tones. 

Opalescent freshwater pearls perfectly complement different precious metal tones.  When paired with yellow gold vermeil or 9ct yellow gold, a white pearl picks up and highlights the creamy tones of the gold.  Teamed with rose gold vermeil, white freshwater pearls mirror the soft pastel palette. Sterling silver settings highlight the vivid whiteness and brilliance of freshwater cultured pearls.

When choosing freshwater pearls for our designs we consider the quality, brightness and shape of the pearls carefully to ensure the best quality gemstones for our jewellery.  The surface finish of our freshwater pearls is smooth and radiant, the colour is vividly white but displaying a rainbow of hues within the nacreous surface.  Shapes are selected to best fit the design of the jewellery; we choose pearls for their perfect spherical roundness, attractive dewdrop shape, or playful and individual baroque aspect.

Round Pearl Earrings Teardrop Pearl Earrings Baroque Pearl Earrings

‘Pearls are always appropriate.’ Jackie Kennedy

Considered a jewellery classic, a string of pearls is often what comes to mind when thinking of pearl jewellery. Traditional and perhaps even a little outmoded, pearls have been regarded as the preserve of an older generation. But why not use this most beautiful of gems in modern jewellery pieces? The luminosity, lustre and iridescence of pearls is uniquely attractive. We believe that this precious stone has more to offer than traditional pearl jewellery. Our designers have been re-interpreting pearls in our contemporary designs, creating new ways to wear pearls for the modern woman.

It is the integral simplicity and timelessness of cultured pearls that make them so versatile. We have combined freshwater pearls with minimalist designs and modern silhouettes in our new TriBeCa collection to create a fresh take on freshwater pearl jewellery. This subtly elegant jewellery provides the perfect everyday adornment, featuring nuanced detailing and fine quality finishes. Our latest freshwater pearl designs can be found in our Callisto collection; timeless pieces where the exceptional quality of the pearls is highlighted.

 

You can explore all of Azendi's freshwater cultured pearl jewellery here:  https://azendi.com/collections/pearl-jewellery