Pearls and Pearl Beads Tips

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How do you dye MOP black? Can you use rit dye? Hot hot of waer can MOP stand? Thanks

How to Dye Mother of Pearl

If you want to dye Mother of Pearl beads, Rit dyes won't really do the job. What you need are acid dyes. This type of dye uses an acid – usually vinegar - to help set the color. You'll need hot water and you may want to do your dying on the stovetop. Acid dyes come in a powdered form from many different manufacturers and can be found on the web. Jacquard makes a lovely palette of colors in acid dyes.

Think of all the colors you could have access to if you dye your own MOP buttons or MOP beads.

Use very hot water or heat the water on the stove. Don't use aluminum pots or utensils. Don't pour dye or vinegar directly onto MOP. Let the MOP sit in the dye bath until desired color is reached. Follow all manufacturers directions for the dye.

How do you tell if pearls are real?

How to tell if a pearl is 'real'

To tell if a pearl is real, get the pearls wet (rinse under tap water) then gently rub a pearl against your front teeth. If the pearl feels slightly gritty, they are real. If it feels perfectly smooth, it is likely they are fabricated (glass with a coating, usually).

Many pearls are grown by putting a small object inside of the oyster(salt water pearls) or mollusk fresh water pearls) - they are still 'real' - but the nacre is only coating the object rather than being pearl all the way through. In the case of coin pearls, for example, the object can be quite large - but the coating on the pearl is still formed by a natural process.

How do I care for pearl beads?

Caring for Your Pearl Beads

Once you create a design with pearl beads, you should know how to care for your precious gems. Chemicals and even body oils can eventually damage your pearls. Try to apply hair sprays and makeup before you don your pearl jewelry. After you wear them, wipe the jewels with a soft damp cloth to remove any residue. Every so often, it's a good idea to clean your pearls with a soft cloth and a mild soap. Don't use harsh cleansers on your pearls! Store them away from other jewelry in a soft bag or pouch and your pearl beads will last for years!

Are fresh water pearl beads really as good as traditional salt water beads?

Fresh Water vs. Salt Water Pearl Beads

Oysters make pearls, right? Yes they do, but other marine creatures can create pearls, too. Mussels that live in streams, lakes, and rivers make freshwater pearls that are made into beads. Oysters make most saltwater pearls that eventually become pearl beads. Other creatures can create pearl-like beads too. The freshwater pearl bead is actually cheaper than saltwater pearls, but that does not mean the quality is lower. In fact, some freshwater pearl beads are now higher quality than their saltwater counterparts. Look for size, luster, sheen, and reputation when you purchase fresh water pearl beads.

Does more than one pearl come from an animal?

Culturing Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater rice pearls (and other freshwater varieties) have a unique little quality. When they are cultured, farmers don't use a bead as the nucleus to begin forming the pearl. a bit of another mussel's mantle tissue, which is the tissue that secretes mother of pearl. However, I'll bet you didn't know that the pearl farmer can insert more than one bit of mantle into the animal's tissue. That means that one mussel or freshwater oyster can produce up to 50 pearls at once.

Is there such a thing as a "perfect" pearl?

The "Perfect" Pearl

Freshwater pearls are rarely perfectly round, and you may notice slight imperfections in the surface of a freshwater pearl. This is entirely natural, don't worry! It's rare for a pearl grown in nature to be perfectly round and unblemished. Imitation pearls can be perfectly round and unblemished, which is a clue they may not be real, but manufactured. You may never find a "perfect" freshwater pearl, but that simply adds to their charm and appeal, they have imperfections that make them even more beautiful and unique.

Have you heard of poppy seed pearls?

"Poppy Seed" Pearls

It's not a good idea to sprinkle poppy seed pearls on your morning muffin, but they can create a hot set of earrings. Many people refer to the irregular form of the keishi pearl as a poppy seed pearl. That may be because the poppy seed packs a lot of punch into a small package, and the keishi pearl packs a lot of luster and sheen into an equally diminutive pearl. The keishi pearl is an abnormality, but because it's extraordinary and hard to find, you may become quite attached to these fine, cherished pearls.

How can I tell if my freshwater pearl bead is coated?

Need a Little Polish Remover?

Perhaps the most disturbing trend some wholesalers use to camouflage a low grade pearl bead is to layer it with a clear coating somewhat like nail polish. It's almost impossible to tell the pearl's been coated, too. About the only way is to compare a suspected strand with one you know is untreated under high magnification. The untreated pearls' nacre will appear scaly, while the treated pearls will appear even and glassy. Almost all wholesalers of freshwater pearl beads will avoid this practice. Reputable wholesalers of freshwater pearl beads will try to hand pick their selections to avoid low quality pearls of this type.

Should I tie a knot between pearls when I am making a pearl necklace?

Designing a Pearl Necklace

In more costly pearl necklaces (like those using round 7mm and 8mm pearls) you will find that the necklace is knotted between each pearl. This is traditional technique and is said to improve the overall appearance of the necklace. The knotting technique also prevents the pearls from rubbing against one another and, if the strand breaks, it means you won't have pearls rolling all over the place. Smaller, differently shaped pearls look odd if they are knotted. Still, you should consider putting a small knot between every 5 or 10 pearls just in case of an accident.

Can you use specific pearls for specific purposes, like earrings?

Don't Shed a Tear!

Some pearls, like the perfectly round pearl, seem more matched to necklaces and bracelets. Others, like the teardrop or "drop" pearl, are perfect for pendants or earrings. These pearls are considered symmetrical, because each half looks the same, just like a mirror image. In a teardrop pearl, the top is much narrower than the bottom or "drop," (some pearl graders call this drop a "tail"). The narrower top fits flawlessly into earring findings, too. Larger teardrops make stunning pendants, and you can combine them with smaller pearls or beads to create dramatic effects.

Are coin freshwater pearls always round?

A Flip of the Coin

There's a great advantage to working with coin freshwater pearls. They wear many colors, but they also come in a wide variety of shapes, too. You can find these coin pearls in round, oblong, teardrop, oval, and just about any shape you can imagine. A key advantage of coin pearls is that you get a large pearl for the price. While coin pearls can be expensive for freshwater pearls, they come in an array of colors, plenty of sizes, and beauty to boot – it's enough to make you flip! What more could you ask for in a pearl?

Potato pearls? No way!

One Potato, Two Potato

Potato pearls resemble their namesakes, just in smaller form! These rather lumpy pearls are quite stunning when strung together to form a necklace and earring set. They are wider in the middle than both ends, and some tend to have surface bumps and texture that add to their appeal. They can be drilled for stringing either lengthwise or crosswise. Also like their veggie cousins, they come in a kaleidoscope of colors. Don't confuse them with nugget pearls, which can be smaller and less symmetrical, or buttons, which are rounder and have a noticeable flat side.

What's at the heart of every cultured pearl?

The Mother of all Pearls

What's at the heart of any wholesale or retail freshwater or saltwater pearl bead? Well, it used to be an irritant – like a grain of sand – that told the oyster it was time to begin secreting nacre around the offending object. Today, most pearl farmers use a bit of mother of pearl from the shell of an oyster or other mollusk. They insert this tiny treasure inside the animal's tissue to urge it to begin the process that will ultimately create a pearl. So, a tiny bit of mother of pearl is at the heart of just about every wholesale and retail mother of pearl bead you can buy!

Can I use a crimp bead on my coin freshwater pearls necklace?

Crimp Beads and Coin Pearls

Stringing pearls, like coin freshwater pearls is a bit more demanding than stringing regular beads. Most experts don't recommend using a crimp bead with pearls, because the bead can damage the delicate gems. So, how do you put a clasp on your finished project? Some beaders simply tie on a clasp before the first knot between the coin freshwater pearls, but others use a bead tip to cover the knot and attach the clasp. They then tie a knot in front of the bead tip to keep it from coming in contact with the first pearl. Voila, a necklace that is safe for the pearls and still looks attractive and professional!

Why do farmer's dye pearls?

Would You Like to Dye It?

Many pearls are dyed to create hot, trendy colors, but others are dyed to deceive. Farmers and wholesale suppliers sometimes dye low-grade freshwater pearls that might not bring a premium price otherwise. Silver nitrate makes a pearl look darker, and irradiation can actually change the color of a pearl, also making it look darker. To spot a dyed pearl often takes an expert, but if you look down the drill hole, you may be able to see a higher concentration of color. That's a clue the pearl bead you're holding may not be the real, true color it was in nature. Buying wholesale freshwater pearls from a trusted wholesale source that actually hand picks their pearls is usually the best way to ensure you are buying top quality pearls that will be worth their price.

What is the difference between a fresh water pearl made in sea water and one made in salt water?

Freshwater Pearls vs. Salt Water Pearls

There is a difference between cultured pearls that come from fresh water and from the ocean. Oysters that live in seawater have a small round shell bead inserted to stimulate nacre production (nacre is the material that creates the pearl). The rounded shape of the bead helps to produce the classic round pearl shape. If you are looking for seawater pearls, you should beware pearls that have been harvested too early. The nacre coating may be too thin and it will quickly wear away. If you have chosen a credible supplier, they should ensure their pearls have good nacre layers and have not been harvested early. Cultured pearls created in fresh water are made in freshwater mussels that have a small piece of 'mantle tissue' (nacre producing tissue from another mussel) inserted to stimulate pearl production. Freshwater pearls are solid pearl, but are rarely perfectly round. Freshwater cultured pearls also come in many beautiful colors.

Did you know Chinese freshwater pearls rival Japanese saltwater pearls in color and luster?

Ride the Wave

The Third Pearl Wave has been hitting the beading beaches since the late 1990s. Originating in China, the pearls riding this wave are extraordinary, rivaling Japanese saltwater pearls in just about every way, from luster to shape. These pearls, cultured by hand, offer the beader natural colors along with the increased use of vibrant colors, uniform sizing, and striking results.

Do you wonder what rice pearls are?

Not for the Rice Cooker

Rice pearls, especially the luminous white variety, may well remind you of delicate grains of rice. These pearls are often called "seed" pearls because of their shape and subtle coloring. Rice pearls come in a wide variety of colors, and they are usually uniform in size, which helps the overall design of necklaces and other jewelry. These pearls are especially smooth and lustrous, too!

Does the elusive freshwater black pearl really exist?

Tahitan Black Pearls

The only true black pearls come from black-lipped oysters, and most of these pearls come from or are processed in Tahiti. Oysters are ocean-dwellers, which means that true black pearls are cultured in saltwater. In fact, freshwater black pearls don't exist naturally. These pearls are dyed black, instead. In fact, many of the rainbow pearl shades available are dyed. However, if you're looking for a natural freshwater black pearl, you're not going to find it.

What is a cultured pearl?

Cultured Pearls

A cultured pearl is one that is produced through an artificial process that imitates the natural organic process that creates a natural pearl. An irritant such as a bead, grain of sand, or piece of mantle tissue is inserted by human intervention into the body of a mollusk, and becomes the nucleus of a pearl once that mollusk secretes nacre to cover the irritation.

What creates the color in pearls?

The Lavender Hue

Pearls take on the colors of the animals that produce them. Lavender rice pearls, for example take on their delicate shades from the mantle of the producing mollusk, but even water conditions and the type of nucleus used to grow the pearl can influence the final color. Lavender rice pearls can be dyed, but they can also occur naturally. To see if they are dyed, look into the drill hole and see if you can see a concentration of color. That's a good indication the pearls are dyed and not naturally colored.

What are the different shapes of freshwater pearls?

Shapes of Freshwater Pearls

Natural freshwater pearls are rarely perfectly round. Most pearls, both natural and cultured, are renowned for their beautiful color and lustrous texture. Freshwater pearls are available in an array of colors including white, silvery white, pink, red, salmon, copper, bronze, lavender, brown, purple, blue, green, yellow and cream. White is the most common color in freshwater pearls but the most desirable pearls are the pastel pinks, roses and lavenders. The varied colors develop as a result of the species of mussel, water quality, and the position of the pearl in the shell. Generally, the pearl will take on the color of the shell in which it forms. It can be difficult to create a matched strand because of the wide range of pastel colors. The shape of a cultured pearl is determined by the shape of shell of the mussel. The shapes found include rounds, eggs, drops, pears and buttons and a shape knows as a baroque. The baroque type includes several shapes like, nuggets, wings, hammers, twins, barrels round-a-circle, and rosebuds. The baroques are popular for use in beading, especially the nugget shape.

What's the difference between cultured and freshwater pearls?

Cultured or Freshwater?

Choosing between wholesale freshwater pearls and cultured pearls isn't as hard as you might think. Actually, cultured and freshwater pearls are one in the same! Cultured pearls are created artificially in both freshwater and saltwater pearls, and the term was actually developed to distinguish these pearls from natural pearls. Today, many people think cultured pearls are less desirable, when in fact; just about all the wholesale freshwater pearls sold are indeed cultured. So, don't be deceived by wholesalers who make cultured pearls seem less desirable than others. They're just two different terms for the same final product.

How should I display pearls?

Displaying Pearls

When you display or store pearls, never put them in a window or in direct sunlight. Bright sunlight can spell death to a pearl's beautiful sheen and sparkle – it will permanently cloud them. Storing wholesale pearls in opaque or non-see through storage containers is a good idea for any dealer to ensure the pearls remain at their best for as long as they remain in stock. Velvet or soft cloth bags (like felt or fleece) are also good choices for smaller pearls. Display finished pearl designs in display cases that are lined in a soft fabric, and never display pearls in a shop's front window display.

I've heard of keishi pearls, what are they?

Keishi Pearls Feel Rejected

Keishi pearls are unusually shaped, and there's a good reason for that. They form as a result of rejection! The implanted bead nucleus of these pearls is rejected by the mollusk, and the result is this all-nacre pearl. They are usually shaped very haphazardly, and are quite lustrous. They make spectacular jewelry, and since no two look quite the same, your design will always be unique.

How can I purchase wholesale freshwater pearls?

Buy Your Pearls Loose or on Strands

Wholesale freshwater pearls are sold several ways. Wholesalers sell them loose in groups, singularly, or on temporary strands. If you want your pearls undrilled, then you'll buy them loose or one-by-one. Most strands offer the pearls strung on temporary monofilament about 16-inches long. Some dealers will sell shorter strands (about 15 to 15 1/2 inches), so you have to be careful when you purchase strands. Double check with your wholesaler if you have any doubts about their strand length. In large orders, short strands can mean shortages of a number of pearls.

How do wholesalers grade pearls?

Up to Grade

You probably know wholesalers grade diamonds by color, clarity, and size. However, there's no grading like that for pearls. In fact, many sellers (and buyers) make up their own grading systems. You can do the same thing once you discover your own preferences for pearl color, luster, and size. Ask if your dealer keeps a "master strand" of pearls that shows the different qualities of pearls from good to excellent. This can help you see even minute differences in color, sheen, and shape of the different pearls. Assigning grades in your own mind can help you design affordable pearl jewelry that is both beautiful and cost effective. For example, you could use larger, higher quality pearls in the front center of the pearl necklace, graduating to smaller, lesser quality pearls in the back near the clasp where they will not be as noticeable.

Are there any such things as flawless pearl beads?

Flawed Pearls

Pearls can display a variety of flaws, and that's the last thing your buyer wants showcased in their finished pearl necklace. No pearl is absolutely perfect, but the biggest flaws to watch for in wholesale pearl beads are pieces of nacre that are missing from the surface of the bead. This is a deal breaker when purchasing pearl beads. Other flaws are not so important to most pearl buyers and graders. In fact, even "flawless" pearls rated by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) include some types of flaws, but many are not discernable to the naked eye. If pearls are advertised as "flawless," don't be so sure!

Why are mother of pearl beads rare?

A Rare Bead

Mother of pearl beads are extremely common and used as the nucleus of most saltwater pearls. These beads also come in different shapes and sizes than traditional beads. They may be larger, oblong, or hand carved with designs, which add to their beauty and uniqueness. They have a surprising sheen and depth of color because they are the real "heart" of the cultured pearl. You may have to look harder to find mother of pearl beads, but once you find them and add them to your designs, you'll find they are well worth the sleuthing effort!

What other types of pearl beads are available to work with?

Other Pearl Beads

Most people associate pearl creation with oysters and mussels, but that's not always the case. Other marine creatures, like abalone, conch, scallops, and the melo melo snail can also create types of pearl beads. Since some of these beads don't contain actual nacre, they aren't considered "true" pearls and can come in an assortment of colors and shapes. For example, the melo melo bead is usually large and round, and can range from dark brown to a sought-after orange. These beads resemble pearls in most detail, and can be used as a round pearl would in most beading projects.

Is there more variety in wholesale freshwater pearls than there used to be?

A Pearl of a Different Color

If you haven't shopped for wholesale freshwater pearls lately, you'll likely be amazed at the myriad of colors, shapes, and sizes available! Luscious shades of bronze, pink, orange, and emerald blend together in a dizzying kaleidoscope of shades to mix and match in your freshwater pearl creations.

Freshwater pearls are currently available in far more colors and shapes than saltwater pearls, which is in part the reason for their soaring popularity and price.

Coins, buttons, nuggets, and rice are waiting to create marvelous pearl masterpieces. No matter what you're looking for, you're sure to find it in today's selection of wholesale freshwater pearls.

Do some pearls have overtones?

Overtones Can Change the Shade

The main color of a pearl is its body color. Freshwater pearls are known for their beautiful iridescent orient (the rainbow effect of peacock pearls, for example) but they are NOT particularly known for their overtones, and that includes rice pearls. Traditional saltwater pearls are more notable for their overtones. While overtones are common, especially in the freshwater rice pearl, there are many other pearls with no overtone. Overtone can depend on the animal, the nucleus, and many other conditions. So, overtones aren't unique, but they are another aspect of color to consider when you choose your freshwater pearl.

Are abalone and Mother of Pearl beads really the same thing?

Abalone and Mother of Pearl -- Which is It?

If you associate Mother of Pearl beads with abalone, you aren't wrong. It's the Mother of Pearl in abalone and other mollusks that help create pearls in the first place. However, mother of pearl beads usually aren't really pearls at all. These beads are simply created from the shell lining rather than waiting for the animal to create a pearl.

Who brought the popularity of freshwater pearl necklaces back into vogue in the 1960s?

The Queen of Gems

Pearls are often referred to as the queen of gems, and they have graced some of the finest necks around the world. Royal women always seemed fond of this delicate and delightful stone from the sea. From Cleopatra to Marie Antoinette, freshwater pearls were their favorite gems, and pricey at that. A fine pearl necklace of just one strand could fetch from $500 to $5000. Jackie Kennedy didn't single-handedly bring the saltwater pearl necklace back into fashion in the 1960s; it had really never left, but her love of this queen of gems certainly helped it appeal to countless new young women.

I've heard of pearl buttons, but what about button pearls?

Button Your Lip

Another symmetrical pearl that lends itself to a variety of projects is the button pearl. It tends to be flatter on one side, so beaders often use it for earrings. However, that's not all these buttons can hold together. You can also find button pearls drilled for stringing at the widest point or the narrowest, which gives you a lot of variety of how you can use these pearls in your projects, and that's another useful thing to know when you buy your buttons!

What types of Japanese pearls are there today?

Japanese Types of Pearls

The modern cultured pearl industry began in Japan in the early 1900s. Japan produces two basic types of cultured pearls, the Akoya pearl and the Kasumiga pearl. The Akoya has been around for decades and has always been known as one of the highest quality saltwater pearls on the market. However, as the Chinese have produced increasingly high quality freshwater pearls, the Japanese have countered with a new type of pearl, the Kasumiga, which is a highbred cross between two freshwater cultures. The result is a revolutionary pearl with glossy to light pink luster.

What are "scant" pearls?

"Scant" Pearls

You can save money on "scant" pearl beads, which can be used for projects like pearl earrings and pendants. Scant pearls are pearls that have an obvious flaw, such as missing nacre, in one section of the pearl. The flaw is cut off, which leaves a flat spot on the pearl. Some dealers call these "three-quarter" pearls. If this flaw is on the top, the remaining pearl can be set in a finding and used as an earring, or it can be drilled and wired as a pendant or pearl earring. These scant pearl beads can be drilled along the center axis for mounting on a post setting, too.

What is mother of pearl, anyway?

Nacre or Mother of Pearl?

You could call that mother of pearl bead you're working with a nacre bead, but it wouldn't sound the same, would it? Mother of pearl and nacre are one and the same. That's why animals that are lucky enough to have mother of pearl in their shells can create lustrous pearls for the rest of us to wear and enjoy. Nacre is the substance that coats the pearl, but it is also the substance that gives pearls their unique sheen and luminescence that's so special and appealing.

What the heck are baroque pearls?

Mine are Baroquen

Baroque pearls are oddly shaped saltwater pearls. They aren't historic, they're just non-conformists. In shape, that is. Baroque is simply the term pearl fans give to pearls that aren't round. These baroque beauties are irregular, abstract, and anything but symmetrical. They're created by inserting an abstract shape into the mollusk to reproduce an abstract shape in the finished pearl. They march to a different drummer, and create stunning beading project for the non-conformist in all of us.

Can I use spacers with my pearl beads?

Using Pearl Beads With Spacers

It's true the pearl bead is a delicate breed, but you can still pair it with other beads in your jewelry designs. You simply have to choose wisely when you create a project. Try to pick small spacers that won't come in too close contact with the pearl, and use pearls that have a lot of nacre so they keep their luster. Some baroque-style pearls are shaped in a way to help keep them away from other beads, for example. If you prefer to use other beads as spacers, choose smooth beads such as glass, rather than a bead with rough facets, like a crystal or some gemstones. Pearl beads are fragile, but with creativity you can use them with many other beads in your designs!

Intimidated by the many varieties of pearls?

Too Many Pearls, Too Little Time

Too many types of pearls to choose from? Not to worry! Pearls can be broken down into various categories: cultured and natural types, and those oddities in between, like keishi, mabe, and mother-of-pearl. Mabe is another form of cultured pearl, and the mother-of-pearl that lines shells is actually made up of nacre, which also forms pearls. It creates the lustrous surface you see inside an oyster or abalone shell. This mother-of-pearl is necessary for the mollusk to actually produce a pearl, no matter what type it is. Only shells with mother-of-pearl inside have the ability to ultimately create a fine pearl.

Can't I use tweezers to knot instead of a beading awl?

Awl or Knotting

Many beaders use fine tweezers to help them tie the tiny knots between each pearl in a strand necklace. That's fine, but others find a beading awl makes knotting much easier. Using the tip of the awl to form the knot keeps the knot tight, and slipping it off the awl's point is a breeze. Got a knot in your thread you don't want? The awl's point is handy for undoing those surplus knots, too. The beading awl serves double duty as a bead reamer too, so when you buy an awl you're really buying two tools in one!

How are Tahitian black pearls graded?

Tahitian Black Pearl Grading

While most pearls are not graded officially, the Tahitian government grades their famous black pearls, and does not allow certain pearls to be sold off the island of Tahiti. When buying Tahitian black pearls, look for grades A, B, C, and D. Pearls that are lower than grade D can only be sold in Tahiti. These black pearl grades rely specifically on surface quality. Type A pearls have only a few minor surface blemishes, while D grades may have light to deep imperfections on their exterior, and those may cover up to half of the pearl's exterior. Many black pearls are rated on luster with the AAA grading policy applied to other saltwater cultured pearls.

Are keishi pearls hard to find?

Freshwater or Saltwater to Your Liking

The keishi pearl can be either a freshwater or saltwater pearl. If you prefer one variety to the other, you can still have your keishi pearl and bead it, too! Pearl graders consider these gems by-products of the culturing process, so they fall somewhere it a gray area. They are quite rare, since most growers routinely check their mollusks to find out if they have rejected a nucleus, and if they have, they renucleate the animal. Once you see these lustrous beauties, you'll know why they are highly prized by many jewelry designers.

Is bleaching fresh water pearl beads really OK?

Bleached Pearls

Before pearl farmers sell their pearls, they are always cleaned and polished.Many freshwater pearl beads are dyed, bleached or treated, which does not make them a "bad" pearl bead. Buying your pearl beads from a reputable source that trys to hand pick their stock usually leads to the highest quality you can buy for a given price.

How can I use rice pearls in my bead designs?

Designing With the Rice Pearl

What can you do with rice pearls? Well, you can string them in stands of pearls, but partnered with other gems, the rice pearl is especially stunning and eye-catching. That's because of the rich colorations and even size of these gems. Rice pearls look grand alone, but next to a glass bead or gemstone they take on even more wondrous characteristics. Some rice pearls have subtle banding, while others do not. Usually, the rice pearl bead is drilled end to end, to enhance the thicker center of the pearl.

Do abalone's really make pearls too?

The Abalone Pearl - The Rarest of Gems

If you're looking for one of the rarest of pearl beads, look for the abalone pearl. These large mollusks create some of the most desirable pearls on the planet. The pearls are usually large and extremely shiny, because of the high luster inside the abalone's shell. Most of these pearls are horn-shaped, just like the shell of the animal itself. It's even rarer to find a perfectly round abalone pearl, so these are the most sought-after of all. Abalone pearls are extremely difficult to culture, which keeps these beads the rarest and most wonderful of gems!

Do Chinese freshwater pearls wear well?

Nacre and Your Pearl

Chinese freshwater pearls are taking the pearl world by storm because they are almost all nacre (the luminescent coating that forms on the outside of the pearl). This is extremely important to the professional beader because more nacre means the coating of the pearl will not wear away, which can happen with many imitation pearls, or even in freshwater pearls that are harvested too early. The Chinese have developed new ways of culturing pearls that produce freshwater pearls that are almost impossible to tell from the world's best saltwater pearls, and at a fraction of the cost. Chinese freshwater pearls will wear well, and they provide a wonderful alternative to other cultured pearls.

Are top drilled coin pearls more versatile than other styles?

Top Drilled Pearls are More Versatile

As you've probably discovered by now, pearls for beading can be drilled in many different ways, and that includes coin pearls. Many teardrop coin pearls come top drilled, and this makes them even more versatile and handy to have in your bead box. Top drilling allows the tails of teardrop pearls to hang loose and show off their stuff, and it allows you to string other beads and spacers between the pearls for more diversity. It also ensures the top of the tear isn't as vulnerable to chipping or breaking. So, look for top drilled coin pearls for more flexible designs!

How do shapes define what pearls cost?

Pearl Shapes and Their Cost

There was a time when perfect pearls were round, and anything else was simply not saleable. Today, anything goes in pearls, from triangular to coin-shaped and beyond. What you pay for these various shapes depends on their design popularity, color, and luster. Luster affects the price of all pearls, no matter what their shape or how they were cultured – in saltwater or freshwater. When you purchase pearls for your customer's jewelry designs, look for a supplier that carries a wide variety of pearl shapes for creative pearl jewelry.

What pearls lend themselves to what necklace designs?

Pearls and Necklace Design

Different pearls work well for different necklace designs. For a traditional strand of pearls, you will want round or nugget pearls. Buy according to uniformity of shape and color. You can also make a necklace of white dancing pearl beads from rice pearls. You will want to buy rice pearls that are drilled through the top. They look great as drops on a necklace or in a stylish, asymmetrical design. Look for rice pearls with uniform luster and color and very smooth surfaces. You'll need a lot of these pearl beads on a strand because of the way they're drilled, so make sure you purchase enough.

What should I look for when buying pearls?

Buying Pearls

Generally, when you are buying pearls, you want to consider several factors. They include luster, shape, blemishes, size and color. Luster refers to the brilliance of the pearl and to how the surface of the pearl reflects light as well as to its “inner glow” - refracting light from the layers of nacre. Blemishes relate to surface quality or the number of blemishes on a pearl. Natural pearls have blemishes while imitation pearls do not. Blemishes include holes or cracks in the surface of the pearl, and flaking nacre. Shape is usually round, but pearls are rarely perfect spheres. Consistency is the most important factor in choosing a shape for beads in a necklace or for beading in general. Color would typically be white or off white but pearls come in many different colors. Color preference is really a matter of personal taste. Size is also an important factor. Pearls range from under 1mm to 20mm. In round pearls, the most popular size sold today is 7mm to 7.5mm. Generally, the larger the pearl the greater it's value but only when taking into account the other factors mentioned. Smaller pearls can be more expensive in price though, because pearls typically come on a 16" temporary strand. Obviously, this would mean that you will get more small pearls on a strand and thus making the strand more expensive to purchase.

How can I learn more about great luster in the pearls I choose?

Luster and Coin Pearls

When you look for high-quality pearls, one of the qualities to look for is luster. That's a combo of the deep glow of the pearl paired with surface shimmer and sheen. The luster should always be shiny, rather than dull or dusty. Coin pearl beads are especially lustrous, and most of them carry shiny overtones, so they are a perfect pearl for the beginner to buy. These striking pearls will give you an idea of what to look for in luster and sheen. They have plenty of texture, too, which seems to help reflect and refract the sheen back to your eyes. So, if you want to bone up on luster, look to coin pearl beads as your example.

How are pearl colors graded?

Pearl Color Grading

When you purchase wholesale pearls, there is no official system for grading the colors. Color does have an effect on price, so you do need to know what to watch for when you purchase colored pearl beads. Things to look for include the type of oyster that produced the pearl. Look at the luster of the nacre, which is the coating on the pearl that makes the pearl shiny and glossy. The most common pearl color is white, but pearl beads come in a wide variety of fashionable colors, too. If your wholesaler can't tell you what type of oyster produced the pearls they sell, look for a supplier who can.

What's an AAA cultured pearl?

AAA For Jewelry

While there is no one approved grading system for pearls, many pearls are graded as A, A+ AA, and AAA. Dealers may offer certificates noting their pearls fit these guidelines. Just remember these grades are not recognized by any official organization. A good rule of thumb is: The lower the pearl's grade the less luster and quality the pearl will have. For example, a grade A pearl might have little luster and some surface markings, while an AAA pearl will have a very high luster and an ultra-clean surface. Most of the higher grade pearls do not end up as necklaces, but are used for designs highlighting unique and beautiful individual pearls. These unofficial grades usually apply to saltwater cultured pearls, rather than freshwater pearls, and do not apply to South Sea pearls.

What can I do with baroque pearls?

Think Outside the Jewelry Box

Pearls are round, right? Well traditionally, yes they are. However, today's pearls can be star-shaped, flat or button shaped, long and thin, like grains of rice, or simply unbound by symmetry and roundness. Nowadays, pearl farmers have learned how to induce just about any shape you'd like in a pearl, from hearts and crosses to freeform wonders that defy description, but growers call "baroque." So, today's freshwater baroque marvels aren't your mother's strand of pearls. Think outside traditional designs when you bead with these pearls, and your jewelry box will never be the same!

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