A pearl is formed when a microscopic object becomes trapped within the mantle folds of a mollusc.  The object causes irritation and the mollusc responds to this by secreting nacre, the same substance that produces mother of pearl.  Over time more and more pearllayers may be added causing the pearl to grow in size.  A ‘natural’ or ‘wild’ pearl is formed in the wild without any human intervention and is extremely rare.  To find just one pearl may involve the gathering and opening of many hundreds of pearl oysters or pearl mussels.

The process of pearl culture was developed in Australia by an English botanist William Saville-Kent and taken to Japan by Tokichi Nishikawa, who was granted the patent for the process in 1916.  Cultured pearls are farmed and produced with human intervention to stimulate the natural production of nacre.  An irritant is introduced when the shell valves are open for feeding or respiration, the mollusc then naturally creates a pearl sac in response to seal off the irritation.

The production of artificial or cultured pearls has bought the wearing of pearls within the range of those with more modest budgets.  Having said that pearls are still reasonably expensive, as to find 50 matching pearls for a 16” necklace, around 10,000 pearls may need to be sorted.



You will need to consider the individuals taste and style. Larger sized pearls give a more dramatic look where as smaller ones are more classic.

Tip: It is usually wisest to choose pearls of the best grade you can afford even if this means choosing pearls of a smaller size.


The colour of pearls tends naturally to be white, cream and more recently black. Some canPearl Rinf be found with tints of blue, pink, champagne, green and even purple but coloured ones are more than likely artificial dyed.

Tip: Consider the individual's skin tone. Fairer skin would suit pink pearls where as darker skin would suit golden pearls.


The unique lustre of pearls comes from the effect the layers of nacre have on the light falling on them. The thinner and more numerous the layers, the finer the lustre will be.

Tip: The lower the lustre the duller the pearl will look, it is worth considering one with a higher lustre.


Most other necklaces are referred to by their physical measurements but pearl necklaces are named by how low they hang when worn.

Length Measurement Where it should sit
Collar 10-13inches (35-41cm) Sits against the throat
Pearl Choker 14-16inches (35-41cm) Nestles just at the base of the neck
Princess 17-19inches (43-48cm) Comes down to or just below the collar bone
Marinee 20-24inches (50-60cm) Will be long enough to fall just above the breasts
Opera 28-35inches (70-90cm) Will be long enough to reach the breastbone or sternum
Pearl Rope Over 45inches (115cm) Must full down further than an Opera

Tip: you may want to consider the size of the pearls before selecting how long you would like the necklace to be.


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