Pearls are always in fashion, and are not just for Granny! Pearl jewelry for men has grown in popularity over the past few years, so it’s for everyone regardless of who you are.
Pearl accessories are also versatile. You can pretty much wear them any time, because they blend well with almost any outfit.
For example, you can wear a luxe white pearl necklace with a wedding dress, or a dyed blue pearl glasses chain for the casual weekend.
How should you decide which type of pearls will be best for the accessories you wear?
To choose which type of pearl accessories you should purchase, you should consider your budget, how you’ll be wearing the pearls, and how you tend to treat your jewelry. Some types of man-made pearls are cheaper than natural varieties, but they may not have as good a luster or last as long.
There are many types of pearls, so there is something for everyone’s budget, but hand-knotted freshwater pearls offer the most advantages.
Table of Contents
- What are the different types of pearls?
- Color and shape of the pearls.
- What to look for when buying freshwater pearl chain accessories (how to make sure you are getting quality)
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What are the different types of pearls?
I asked Karen, owner of KalxDesigns, for information about pearls because she makes glasses chains using both natural and man-made pearls.
Karen told me that there are two main types of pearls, those being natural and man-made. Each of those can be broken down into further categories. These include ocean pearls and freshwater pearls for the natural category, and plastic or glass pearls for the least expensive, man-made variety.
Karen says “There’s also a type of man-made pearls that are a higher quality, which are lacquered. This is where layers upon layers are formed over a small base, e.g., Mallorca pearls, or Swarovski pearls.
“While man-made pearls are the most affordable, they are not as durable as natural pearls. If your budget allows, go for the natural pearls and you won’t have to worry about issues like the coating flaking/rubbing off or chipping of the outer layers of the pearls.
“Ocean pearls are clearly the most luxurious, with super luster and feel, but are very expensive and out of reach for most people.
“Freshwater pearls are an affordable option, and while there is a gradient of qualities and prices, good quality freshwater pearls are within reach of most people’s budgets.”
So once you decide which type of pearls you think would be best for your purposes, what else should come into your decision-making process?
Color and shape of the pearls.
Different types of pearls come in different shapes and different colors. Natural pearls can be dyed, so you’re not limited to the original color of the pearls.
Karen said that the most common pearl shapes are round, semi-round, “potato” and “rice.” (These are more oval-shaped than round.)
Some freshwater pearls also have an uneven surface, which gives them a look that’s less precise and more organic.
Pearls can also come in a variety of colors, including natural colors like white, cream, peach, and mauve. They can also be found in less “realistic” colors, like peacock, deep blue, pinks, and blacks.
If you’re choosing pearl accessories you’ll need to decide whether you want a natural look, or a color that’s a little unexpected!
You’ll also need to decide whether you prefer a look that’s more uniform or something that has more variety and natural-looking variations.
If you want to keep your costs low and you like a super uniform look, you might do best choosing man-made pearls.
You might also want to think about whether you prefer to invest a little more in a pearl accessory that’s a little more expensive, but that will last for a longer time without losing its luster.
If that’s the case, a natural freshwater pearl might be better for you.
What to look for when buying freshwater pearl chain accessories (how to make sure you are getting quality)
Since Karen makes glasses chains using multiple materials including pearls, she has some advice about making sure you’re buying something that will be worth the purchase price.
“If you can find it, buy handmade. Hand-knotted pearls are usually strung on premium quality silk thread with hand-tied knots between each pearl.
“This provides strength, fluidity, and safety (if it ever breaks you will not have to go searching on the floor to recover all the pearls.)
“Hand-knotting is a sign of quality pearls. It takes time, patience, and skill to ensure even spacing and uniform knots, so the artisan will likely reserve hand-knotting for their best quality freshwater pearls.
“This means you’ll get pearls of more uniform shape and a beautiful luster. The light-reflecting, radiant glow on the surface of the pearl will be clearly obvious.
“You should also look for how the ends are finished. Quality artisans will use a small metal spring wire (called “French wire”) to protect the silk where it joins a clasp or eyeglasses chain grip.
If the wire is missing and what looks like a metal bead is used at the end of the chain, this is a sign that it was made hastily and probably with lesser-quality pearls and thread (cotton or polyester will not last as long as silk.)
“Finally, purchase from the artisan themself. If something should happen to your freshwater pearl chain or the silk becomes stained, they most likely will offer a re-stringing service which will refurbish the chain to like-new condition, making your original purchase evergreen.”
For the best experience and longest lifespan of your pearl accessories, buy the best quality that you can afford.
Good jewelry is an investment, and since pearls are a classic choice, they’re not going to go out of style any time soon!
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