Rare Natural Pearls 

Elizabeth Taylor wearing La Peregrina Pearl Necklace

 Natural Pearls are the rarest of rare gems. Literally, one pearl in a million, will be a Natural Pearl! But you don't have to go diving in the Persian Gulf for information on these types of pearls. Dive into this page on Antique Jewelry Investor instead! Master of Pearl  emits  a Nacre burst of moonbeam light,  hotter  than the cold surface of any faceted gemstone.  Natural Pearls are  completely made of Nacre. No  bead nucleation is required. 

  •  Natural pearls are formed without  human intervention of any kind.
  •  Composed  entirely of nacre.  A combination of aragonite and an organic binder called conchiolin.
  • One in 10,000 wild oysters will produce a Natural Saltwater Pearl.  Of those  pearls only a very small amount will produce a pearl of  gem quality. Literally one in a million.
  •  Gem quality Natural pearls are rare.  
  • Nacre building takes years. The larger the pearl, the more layers of nacre have been added. 

QuestionHow are Natural Saltwater Pearls  formed?
Answer:   In an effort to protect itself from an intruder, the oyster coats the irritant with layers of nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl, the same substance it uses for shell-building. Like all mollusks, pearl oysters react to foreign objects that lodge against their soft inner body where it cannot be expelled.

To ease this irritant, the oyster  begins to secrete nacre, a smooth, hard crystalline substance around the object in order to protect itself.  As long as the irritant remains within its body,  it  will continue to secrete nacre around it, layer upon layer. Over time, the irritant will be completely encased by the silky crystalline coatings.

When people say, a string of pearls is perfectly matched, they think the pearls are matched for size and shape. Any jeweler's apprentice can match a pearl for size and shape. This is simple mathematics.

The secret is that you match Natural Pearls, so that all the pearls in the string of pearl, age at the same rate. That is not so easy, because if one pearl changes color before the rest, it decreases the value of a pearl necklace. Matching pearls is not a science but an art.

Pearls rank low on what's called the Mohs Scale of Hardness,  so keep pearls away from other types of Jewelry and protected from any dust particles. Perfume and common dust  are  a pearl's worst enemies. All types of pearls, Natural,  Cultured Saltwater Pearls and Freshwater Pearls can be easily damaged  by minerals  in the dust and chemicals in perfume. 

Dust contains tiny particles of quartz,  a mineral and much harder than Pearl on the Mohs hardness scale in comparison. Over  time the quartz in the dust particles will scratch and age a Pearl.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, is said to favor Pearls, although she has acquired some of the finest and rarest diamonds, rubies and sapphires in the world.

Some people are born with an eye for a pearl. But even experience in the trade is not enough. Some people seem to have what others cannot learn, the gift of  knowing. They are born with an eye for a Pearl, as some people are born with a gift for music or art. 

Natural Pearls 
One in A Million

Royal PearlsPearls at Court

From the list of gemstones born of the earth, it is the natural wild Pearls, born of the sea, I find the most exciting. Perfect at birth, their natural beauty needs no improvements, and their qualities, are far more subtle than the cold surface of any faceted  gemstone.

Pearl connoisseurs who understand how to invest money in pearl, know that while other precious gemstones receive careful treatment from the lapidary and owe much to his art, wild natural pearl are born free. They owe nothing to man; a true gift of nature.

A variety of Natural Pearl saturated with incomparable blue color is the  ice-blue maiden Pearl - Natural Abalone Pearls.  A necklace string of these subtle blue colored  pearls have no comparison.

The two supreme marine pearl necklace masterpieces, are the Baroda Pearls, formerly owned by the Maharaja of India and La Peregrina Pearl with its classic pear shaped body. La Peregrina was acquired by Richard Burton for Elizabeth Taylor who passed away on March 23rd, 2011, aged 79 years.

Throughout the ages, little pearls have been the common lingual-franca denoting purity and elegance.  Pearl is the talisman wedding gem and anniversary stone  for a traditional 30th wedding anniversary.

 If you would like to own a Natural Pearl, consider investing in Georgian jewelry. as you may be lucky enough to find one or two natural  marine pearls among fine Antique Jewelry of the Georgian period.

If you would like to understand how to  care and  clean pearls, information on how to clean and care for Pearls can be found here.

Many jewelry love affairs have started out with a good book. The Pearl by John Steinbeck, was one of my English set texts at school. Ever since reading the book,  the power of Natural Pearls has held a special significance and my love and respect for Natural Pearls has never diminished.

This "Pearl of Pearls" is a  rare find indeed  and if you get the rare opportunity  to hold one of these little Pearls in your hand, which is never long enough, it is a great  privilege.

And what can one say of the very large pearls,   larger than even the Australian South Sea Pearl?  The  Giant Dubai Saltwater Pearl  and the oversized aragonite Pearl specimens  are so large they're  considered by some to be freaks of nature rather than accidents of Nature.  See also the Arco Valley Pearl - The Second Largest Pearl in the World.

Master Pearl & Mistress Painting

Natural Pearl Earrings & Necklace (Artist Unknown)
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer
Duchess Winifred Portland by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)

Master Pearl  has  captured the heart, of more than one  master painter who have  immortalized their natural beauty on canvas.  The famous painter, John Singer Sargent (b.1856) who painted wealthy belle Époque beauties, including the Duchess of Portland, 1864-1954)  had an eye for  Pearls. 

 Singer Sargent painted a full-length standing portrait of Winifred, Duchess of Portland in 1902 (see image above and reference at end of page). She  is wearing a long white ankle-length satin gown, with lacy stiff standing collar, and red velvet cloak.  Below her bosom, strands of pearls festoon across her corsage from a  diamond and  pearl brooch.

  It the same brooch the Duchess wore with her coronation robes five years earlier at  the 1897 Devonshire House Costume Ball,  in celebration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.  Sargent  used seven brushstrokes to paint each pearl and with each stroke he used a pigment of a different colour. This technique  created a realistic painting of a single round pearl white. 

An earlier artist with an eye for Pearls, was the seventeenth-century Dutch master, Johannes Vermeer whose absolute masterwork, 'Girl With the Pearl Earring' captures the precise realism of Natural Pearls.

 Natural Pearl Equation

The actual body color is no part of the pearl connoisseur equation, according to Richard W. Wise, author of "Secrets of the Gem Trade." 

"No particular hue or color of a Pearl is more beautiful than another." What Richard describes as "Simpatico" meaning the color is compatible with the skin of the wearer, is what's important.

Identifying and Matching Pearls isn't easy, but there are conclusive Natural Pearl tests. Grading Natural Pearls can be as simple as it is complex. Japanese Pearl divers and old-timers would look primarily at their Shape, Symmetry, Skin, and Complexion. Complexion is compared to a Pearl's luster. The luster and its delicate play of colour, depend upon the perfection of the Pearl's surface.

Under Jeweler's Loupe magnification you can see  the surface of a Pearl is delicately rippled. When  light strikes  the  ripples, it refracts into a play of colors. This delicate play of colours, depends upon the perfection of the pearl's  surface,  causing  light to reflect from the overlapping platelets of aragonite. The iridescence comes from the light striking up at different angles from the rippled layers.

The oyster secretes the nacre which builds up the Pearl layers, like the inside of an onion, and the reflection from the buried surfaces through the outer transparent layers, determines the beauty of the gem.

The quality of the nacre depends on the positioning inside the shell. The purest gems are mostly found in the softest parts of the oyster.

Latitude, meteorology, sea conditions, nature of plankton in the surrounding area, soil of the ocean floor, genetic originality of its mother and the health of the oyster all determine the quality of a Natural Pearl.

Today, because of over-fishing and pollution, Pearl stocks are depleted. Only about half of one per cent of the world's Pearls are Natural. One  in a million pearls change hands among private collectors. Most  are recycled from the past and tend to gravitate towards the world's treasuries. These Pearls  are very rare and few genuine Natural Pearls are available on the open market.

See K.C. Bell, pearl expert, talking historic pearl...




Have You Seen The Jewel-of-the-Month Yet?

Return to the top of Natural Pearls

Return to Antique Jewelry Investor Home Page

XML RSSSubscribe To This Site
  • follow us in feedly
  • Add to My Yahoo!