If you’re into pearls and will be in the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday, February 4th, or Friday, February 5th, then you must visit Manika Jewelry for a very unique event. They are setting up a “Pearl Bar” in the store for their One Love, One Pearl event, where you can peruse thousands of Grade A Tahitian pearls from Black Market Pearls.
And THEN…the talented Paul Bartnik will help you design a custom piece! How cool is that? (Click here to read an interesting interview with him.)
The two-night event begins on Thursday, February 4th. This is “gentleman’s night” from 5-8 pm, complete with a cigar bar, island bites, and cocktails. This would be the perfect opportunity to design a meaningful gift for that special someone in your life.
Then the following evening, Friday, February 5th, it’s time for the ladies. From 5-8 pm you can sip a cocktail, receive a complimentary hand massage and design a one-of-a-kind piece for yourself or someone else. (You know what a big proponent I am of self-gifting!)
Manika Jewelry is located at 645 Market Street, near Montgomery. If this event sounds up your alley, then e-mail [email protected] to rsvp. Enjoy, and I can’t wait to see the incredible pieces to come.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard a lot of “pearl words” thrown around…South Sea, cultured, freshwater, etc… but what do they all mean? Well I’m here to break it down for you, so that the next time you’re shopping for pearls, you’ll know what you’re looking at.
First of all, there are natural pearls and cultured pearls. Natural pearls are VERY rare; so rare, in fact, that you’ll seldom see them for sale in the marketplace. You’re more likely to find natural pearls at antique stores and auctions. Cultured pearls, on the other hand, means that man has played a role in the pearl’s creation. This happens when a little mother-of-pearl bead or piece of tissue (called the nucleus) is inserted into an oyster. Since the oyster looks at this as an irritant, it develops a pearl sack around it as a defense mechanism. As time goes by, layers of nacre grow around this bead, and eventually, a pearl is made. Pretty cool, hm?
The next thing to know is that there are saltwater pearls and freshwater pearls. In the saltwater category, there are: Akoya, South Sea and Tahitian. Freshwater pearls are a category unto themselves. And just to complicate matters, Keishi pearls can be found in both fresh and saltwater. So let’s start with the saltwater varieties.
Akoya pearls are what you typically are thinking of when you imagine the traditional strand of pearls. They are by far the most popular of all varieties, and they were made popular by Mikimoto at the beginning of the 20th century. They are a smaller pearl, usually ranging in size from 2mm-10mm, and they are usually from Japan and China. Here’s a helpful chart to help you get an idea of pearl sizes.
Akoya pearls typically come in white and creams, though they can branch into blue, silver, and even sometimes black. (chart from americanpearl.com) They are known for having the best luster of all the types of pearls.
South Sea Pearls
These are the most valuable of all the pearls, and they come in the largest sizes, ranging from 9mm-20mm. They come from Australia, the Phillipines, and Indonesia. They are produced in the silver and gold-lipped Pinctada Maxima, giving them their silvery and golden colors.
While the name might give you the impression that these pearls only come from Tahiti, that’s not entirely true. They come from the black-lipped Pinctada maxima from the French Polynesian islands, including Tahiti. Traditionally called black pearls, these pearls can come in a range of colors as well, from purple to green to grey. (chart from americanpearl.com) They range in size from 8mm-16mm.
Now, let’s move from saltwater to freshwater.
Here’s an example of a pink freshwater pearl necklace. These types of pearls are usually from the the lakes, rivers and ponds of China. While some may confuse these pearls with Akoya pearls, upon closer inspection you can usually tell that they are not nearly as lustrous. These pearls have a much lower price-point, making them very popular on the consumer market. In addition, they come in a wide variety of sizes (2mm-16mm), colors and shapes.
As I mentioned earlier, these small Keshi pearls can be found in both fresh and saltwater. They are actually a mistake from the whole culturing process! They occur when an oyster spits out the implanted bead. (I’d like to see that happen live!)
Now that you’ve got an idea about the main types, sizes and colors of pearls, there are a couple other things you should be aware of when shopping for pearls. The first is the luster, which I’ve already referred to. This talks about how much light is reflected from the pearl. In the case of Akoyo, the most lustrous, you can often see reflections of objects right in the pearl! This visual from pearlparadise.com really puts it into perspective. The more lustrous a pearl, the higher quality it is.
You also need to take into account the quality of the pearl’s surface. Is it spotted, bumpy, or wrinkled? Are there any abrasions? All these can affect the quality and value of the pearl.
Finally, there are numerous shapes that pearls come in. Though it’s certainly a matter of personal preference, the round pearls are the rarest and most valuable. (photo from bestcutgems.com) Though I know quite a few people who prefer baroque over all other shapes.
When you do select the perfect pearl necklace for yourself, I also advise having it strung with knots between each pearl. Not only does this protect you from losing all the pearls should the necklace break, but it also keeps the pearls from scratching each other. Look forward to a future article I have coming on how to care and store for your pearls!
If you follow my Jewelry Fashion Tips Facebook page (and if you don’t, “like” it right away — there’s tons of goodies on it!), then you know that I was enjoying myself in Hawaii last week. I was staying with friends who live there, so one of my first stops was the local grocery store to stock up on my fave foods. The cashier’s wrists caught my eye right away, adorned in traditional gold Hawaiian bracelets.
Known as Hawaiian Heirloom Bracelets, they are inscribed with names and sentiments just for the person who wears them. They first became popular back in the 1860’s, and their popularity certainly doesn’t seem to have waned. I saw them all over Oahu on wrists of all ages!
During my stay on the island, I noticed yet another Hawaiian bracelet trend — lovely slim bangles, either in silver or gold, enhanced with a single charm. I saw charms ranging from shells to Tahitian pearls to sea glass. While in Sand People (a popular beach-themed chain store on the islands) in Kailua, I saw these lovely examples with Tahitian pearls designed by Oahu-based Beach Girl Jewels.
I was also on the lookout for bangles by Hula Hoops, which is a Maui-based designer, as this is where my friend Jeanette found some beauties! When she stacks a bunch of them together, here’s how it looks.
When she takes it a step further, incorporating other bracelets, the result is simply stunning!
I must admit, that I did come back to the mainland with a singular bangle. (Aren’t you immensely impressed with my restraint?!) I’ve decided that I will add additional bangles on future trips. Meanwhile, I look forward to adding my new “addition” to some of my creative bracelet combinations. Aloha!