pearl strands

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Faberge, one of the world’s most recognized fine artist jewelers, have unveiled a new creation of their iconic Imperial Eggs. The lucky attendees of last week’s Doha Watch and Jewellery Exhibition in Qatar witnessed the first debut of the extraordinary masterpiece: the $2 million Pearl Egg.

Using a combination of white and yellow gold, the meticulously crafted egg features a total of 139 natural white pearls, gleams with a mother-of-pearl finish and adorned with over 3,300 diamonds and hand-carved rock quartz. The centerpiece is an incredibly rare, unique 12.17-carat natural grey pearl sourced from the Arabian Gulf. To reveal it, the outer egg shell is rotated on the base which allows the six sides to flower open simultaneously to reveal the treasure; reminiscent of how an oyster opens to reveal its’ cultured pearl.

The House of Faberge collaborated with the Al-Fardan family to create this egg in honor of the upcoming centenary marking the last Imperial Egg ever made. A renowned pearl collector and connouisseur, Hussain Ibrahim Al-Fardan personally hand-selected each pearl from his family’s collection to be used in making the Pearl Egg.

The Pearl Egg is the first imperial class egg made in almost a century – the last imperial class egg was created in 1917, under the supervision of Peter Carl Faberge himself. The Karelian Birch, also referred to as the “Birch Egg”, was commissioned by the last Tsar of Russia Nicholas II, intended as an Easter gift to his mother, the Empress Maria Feodorovna. The February Revolution began before the egg could be delivered, signalling the end of the imperial era of Russia and subsequently, Faberge’s eggs.

 

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NecklaceTo highlight the birthstone of June Christies London Auction sells a pearl necklace for $1.64 million! The entire auction was 77% sold by lot and another 90% sold by value. Another gorgeous item was a diamond natural pearl brooch that came to $663,829. Along with the pearls a antique sapphire diamond necklace sold for $461,869. The entire lot of 278 items came to a grand total of $13.4 million. Keith Penton, head of the London jewelry department, said in a statement. “The results illustrate the continued strength in the market for natural pearls.”

Natural pearls are a rare and beautiful item.  Their consistent stream in the fashion department dates all the way back to the Han Dynasty in 206 BC. Pearls have been found and sought out after in areas like the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea and South China Sea. Before the 20th century pearl hunting was the most common way of reaping the sweet rewards of an oyster to find it’s pearl. Divers would manually pull oysters from the ocean floor but not all mussels and oysters produce pearls. After hauling three tons only three or four oysters would produce the perfect pearl. Not all pearls are round either the ideal pearl is perfectly smooth and round but many other shapes of pearls exists that are named baroque pearls.

A pearl is formed inside of the shell of an oyster by way of defense mechanism against irritation. When a foreign substance slips into the oyster between its mantle the oyster reacts to protect itself. The foreign substance gets covered in layers of nacre (calcium carbonate) produced from its mantle to seal off any irritation. Nacre is secreted repeatedly many times which produces layers and layers of build up producing a stunning pearl. Since the foreign substance isn’t always perfectly round then pearls can form in different shapes depending on the radius of the substance placed inside.

It is the finest quality of pearl that makes it to the gemstone and jewellery line and the world agrees in loving them for their fine, rare, admirable and valuable qualities.

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Margaret ThatcherMargaret Thatcher, the longest serving Prime Minister of the UK (1979-1990) and first and only female PM is one of the 20th Century’s most famous and influential women. She came from modest roots with a dedication to justice and problem solving that took her well beyond the barriers of gender and class to not only be heard but respected in a male dominated world.

The Prime Minister’s stoic nature was reflected in her fashion sense as much as in her political diplomacy. A style that was understated yet defined, consistent while sentimental.

She is most well known for her skirt suits and handbags – standing out from the sea of black and grey men’s suits and briefcases of her contemporaries. She even coined the used of the term ‘handbagging’ which eventually made it into the Oxford English Dictionary to describe Mrs Thatcher’s abrasive style when dealing with those who displeased her. Her handbag for almost 30 years was an Asprey box style in black leather, it was auctioned for charity at Christie’s in 2011 and reached £25,000.

Pearls were another staple. As Meryl Streep who plays her in the 2012 movie, “The Iron Lady” says “I may be persuaded to surrender the hat… The pearls, however, are absolutely non-negotiable”. Ultimately feminine just as the skirt and handbag, the tough player was almost never seen without her pearl earrings and usually the double strand necklace she was given by her husband after the birth of her twins, or a single strand.

In an interview for the Times newspaper in 1975, she is described as wearing “all the jewelry she has—every piece her husband’s gift—two modest rows of pearls (“a present when the twins were born”); a sapphire and diamond engagement ring and a small diamond half-hoop ring; a slim gold watch; a marble-sized amethyst ring on her right hand and a jangle of cairngorms on the wrist; a nice pearl and diamond display brooch on her right lapel, pearl and gold filigree earrings and an aquamarine brooch on the dress under the jacket. Her foulard scarf matched it.”

Her sapphire and diamond engagement rings is re-emerging as a popular style now, especially since the engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton. Thatcher’s was smaller than Middleton’s (originally Princess Diana’s), while her amethyst worn on her right hand was oval and much more substantial.

‘Cairngorms’ is the name given to citrine quartz mined in the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland. It is an amber-brown or richly orange variety used extensively in Scottish jewelry in the Victorian period. The larger sized cairngorms were particularly prized and often handed down through families. Thatcher’s amethyst could also have been from this period and location.

Just as it was a secret what she kept in her handbag, it seems there were private and sentimental stories attached to her daily jewellery also. Iron Lady on the outside, but always maintaining that feminine mystique – what does your jewellery say about you?

What special memory does your bracelet hold for you?

Who do you feel you hold close to your heart when wearing that pendant?

How many generations have worn those pearls?

Which piece of jewellery would most express how much your partner means to you?

Old jewellery heirlooms can be remodelled to suit today’s fashion while still using the stones and metal for sentimentality. Custom jewellery can be made specifically to your design to create a unique statement piece. Look for independent jewelers (they are often more accommodating) in your area and talk to them about your options.

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Pearl necklaceWhen you walk into a jewellery store, let’s be honest, at first glance we think all pearls look the same except they come in different colors, it’s kind of like diamonds, at first glance most diamonds look the same until you put two diamonds with different quality side by side then you can tell the difference. Well, it’s the same with pearls. All pearls sold on the retail market are “cultured pearls” unless otherwise labeled as natural pearls which are extremely rare nowadays. If you are in a rush (a lot of gentlemen are) and don’t have time to learn all about pearls, easiest way is to ask a jewellery professional what you can get for your budget, an educated jeweller or a graduate gemologists should be able to offer good advice on what type of pearls you should get. Below are the pearl types in the market today.

  • Freshwater pearls: Freshwater pearls come from freshwater mussels which live in ponds, lakes and rivers and are primarily produced by China. The typical size of freshwater pearls is 2mm – 16mm with 7mm – 8mm being the most common.
  • Akoya pearls: Akoya pearls are the classic white pearls and typically have the highest luster and greatest shine of all cultured pearls. Typical Akoya pearls range from 5 mm to 11 mm.
  • South Sea pearls: South Sea pearls are saltwater pearls cultivated from the oyster, found in the South Seas centering on Northern Australia and South-East Asia, including Myanmar and Indonesia. They produce 10-20 mm pearls of white, creamy, silver or gold color, the largest of any cultured pearl. South Sea pearls are also the most expensive pearl on the market due to their rarity and thick nacre.
  • Tahitian pearls: Tahitian Pearls come from the warm waters of the South Seas and are grown in a Black-Lipped oyster. They are the only pearl to achieve a black body color naturally and are typically very large, 9mm- 16mm. Tahitian pearls, although mostly dark, also come in a wide range of hues, including black, gray, silver, green, blue and purple.

You can get all technical and get into the surface, luster, nacre and all that before buying pearls but just by reading about it doesn’t make you a pearl buying expert when you shop in a store, best is to have a few to choose from in person and ask questions, after you understand the value of all different types you will be ready to make an informed purchase. You will see the why two pearl strands look similar from far have very different price tags. Don’t get hung up on brand names; Tiffany’s and Mikimoto both are known for high quality goods, but by no means do they have a monopoly on high quality pearls. You can buy high quality pearls in many Vancouver jewellery stores!

 

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