Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Career Changing Decision Made

Good morning,

Well, after CeCe and I journeyed to Pudong last week, we've decided NOT to pursue pearl stringing as our next career move. As you can see, this is a strand of cultured pearls. It is NOT finished and it probably won't be unless I travel to the Pearl Market and ask my friend, Alina to fix it for me.

The Pearl Stringing Class was a nice thought. Oh, we met Valerie who told us she used to work for DeBeers in marketing and public relations. She is originally from Hong Kong and she recently moved here from there. She took up Chinese jewelry making as a hobby and now she teaches expats to do it.

She's very talented. She had on a beautiful strand of sea pearls - both black and white that incorporated Chinese silk cords. I thought it was beautiful. And her watch was made with freshwater pearls and it was beautiful as well.

She provided all the tools and supplies necessary for the class

CeCe and I have decided that we are not cut out to do this type of jewelry making. You must place a knot between each pearl and you must be precise and well, we just don't have what it takes to complete this project.
For those of you who have pearls, please take a minute to read what I've added below. This is the handout Valerie gave us and I think it will help you take care of the pearls you already have. I learned some things at this class I didn't know, like the perfume and cooking information. I will be more careful going forward.
Six factors determining the quality and value of a pearl

1. Color – intensity of color
2. Luster – surface brilliance. Luster is determined by nacre quality.
3. Surface quality – amount of imperfections
4. Nacre quality – the thicker, the more luster and the durability
5. Shape – roundness of the pearl
6. Size

Although size plays an important role in the evaluation of a pearl, color, luster, shape and surface quality are of primary importance. There is no international standard grading system for freshwater pearls or cultured pearl as in the case of the diamond. Each jeweler adapts his own system.

How to differentiate genuine and fake pearl

1. Imitated pearls are glass, plastic or shell beads dipped in ground fish scales and lacquered with the pearl appearance, such as Majorca Pearl and Swarovski Crystal Pearls. When putting pearl stimulant and pearl together, you can see that cultured pearl has an inner glow, but pearl stimulant has only surface shine.

2. Try the “Tooth-test” – if you run the pearl along the biting edge of your tooth, the genuine pearl will give you a gritty feel, but the fake pearl has a smooth surface.

How to clean and care for your pearl jewelry

1. Use a soft cloth to wipe your pearls after wearing and put a drop of olive oil on the cloth to help maintain the luster of the pearls.
2. Only use jewelry cleaner that is labeled “safe for pearls” to clean your pearls.
3. Never use an ultra-sonic cleaner to clean your pearl jewelry.
4. Avoid using any chemicals such as perfume, vinegars and lemon juice to come in contact with your pearls. That means put your perfume/cologne on before adding your pearls and certainly be careful of using these items around your neck, ears, or wrists.
5. Take off your pearl jewelry when applying make-up, perfume, hair spray, cooking, showering, swimming or exercising.
6. Never put your pearl jewelry with other gem jewelry to avoid scratching and keep them in a jewelry pouch.
7. Dry air can damage pearls so do not store them in a safe deposit box or wall safe.
8. Restring your pearls once a year if you wear them often to avoid breakage.

What is a cultured pearl?

Nearly all pearls sold today are cultured pearls. Cultured pearls are a product of nature with the help of technology. A nucleus is implanted into the mollusk to stimulate nacre (mother of pearl) production and over a few years, the nacre builds up layer by layer ultimately creating the pearl.

Types of Pearls

There are two main types of pearls: Salt water cultured pearls and Fresh water cultured pearls.

Akoya Pearl

A saltwater pearl comes from the Akoya oyster. It was first cultivated in Japan by Kokichi Mikimoto in the early 19th Century. It is round or near-round in white or cream color with overtone of rose, silver and cream. Japanese Akoya Pearl is used to be known as the hallmark of classic quality and grace. With the improvement in technology, today Chinese Akoya pearl is as good as the Japanese pearl. In fact, most of the small size (below 8mm) Akoya pearls in Japan come from China and are “assembled” and marked “Made in Japan”.

South Sea Pearls

South Sea Pearls are saltwater pearls found in the South Seas which encompass an area around North Australia and Southeast Asia). Pearls are silver or gold in color around 10-20mm in size.

Tahitian Black Pearls

Tahitian Black Pearls are gown in the waters of French Polynesia. They are saltwater pearls and they come in gray to black colors with red, green or blue overtones. They are also found near Cook Island, Fiji Island, Tonga, the Philippines and sometimes near Panama and The Gulf of Mexico in the Western Hemisphere.

Mabe or Blister Pearls

Mabe or Blister Pearls come from Japan, Indonesia and Australia. They are half spherical cultured pearls grown on the inside shell of a mollusk. The blister pearl that is produced is cut from the shell and the follow inside is filled with wax or glue. A mother of pearl backing is often added.

Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater Pearls come from freshwater mussels and are produced in Japan, China and in the United States. The most famous type of freshwater cultured pearl is a Biwa Pearl which used to come form mussels grown in Lake Biwa, near Kyoto, Japan. Because of the pollution, production has stopped. Now, over 20 different species of freshwater mussels are commercially harvested.

Today, China is the largest producing country of freshwater pearls.

No comments: