Bridal Tips: A Pearl Guide

Jan 20, 2011

Pearls are often a favored tradition in bridal jewelry and one of the oldest symbols of chastity and purity. In Hinduism, Krishna brought pearls from the sea to give to his daughter as a gift on her wedding day. In Greece, pearls were given as a gift on wedding days because it was believed that pearls would prevent the bride from crying. Crusaders during the Middle Ages would bring back pearls from their journeys as wedding gifts for their ladies. Since the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries pearls have been a part of royal weddings and have become just as synonymous with marriage as the diamond.

Brides often wear pearls handed down from a mother or grandmother on their wedding day. However, if a simple white strand isn’t your style, pearls come in enough of shapes, colors, and sizes to suite any style choice and add sophistication to any look. No two pearls are alike. Typically pearls should be matched in a strand or studs. The better strands of pearls are strung on a silk cord with knots placed in between each pearl to prevent the pearls from chaffing each other. These knows will also keep all your pearls together should the cord break.

About Pearls

Pearls are formed naturally when an irritant, such as a particle of dirt or grain of sand, is caught inside of a mollusk’s inner shell. To reduce the abrasiveness of the particle, the mollusk releases something called nacre and coats the irritant. Over time, the mollusk adds more hard, smooth layers of nacre around the particle forming a pearl.

Naturally occurring pearls are extremely rare these days. Approximately ninety-nine percent of pearls available for purchase are “cultured,” which means the pearl is formed the same way a natural pearl would occur, except the irritant is intentionally placed inside the mollusk shell.

Pearls are extremely soft gemstones and therefore require special care. Hairspray, natural skin oils, lotions, perfumes, and makeup can dull the luster of a pearl. Pearls should be rubbed down with a soft, damp cloth after wearing them. If your pearl strands are worn frequently, it would be a good idea to bring them to a jeweler to have them restrung once a year.

How to Buy a Pearl
1) Luster

Luster is the way that light reflects off of a pearl. A pearl with extraordinarily good luster will reflect the light strongly and seem to glow. A simple test for a pearl’s luster is to check for your reflection in the pearl’s surface. Pearls with low luster will have a milky surface that won’t show a reflection very well. High luster pearls will show a sharp contrast between brightly lit and shadowed parts of the pearl.

2) Shape

Pearls come in an array of shapes. Depending on your preference in pearl shapes, the quality of the shape may not be a significant factor. Perfectly round pearls are hard to come by and matching pearl shapes for a strand is difficult. Mostly you want to check that the surface of the pearl doesn’t have any obvious spots, dimples, cracks, or discolorations.

3) Color

The color of the pearl doesn’t affect the value as most pearls are color treated before they are sold. Pearls come in a virtual rainbow of colors and therefore the choice is entirely up to you. If you are purchasing several pearls, such as in a strand, it is more important to make sure that the pearls are similarly matched in color.

Pearls are measured in millimeters and it is the size, the luster, and the shape that determines the price of a pearl. You should always check that the pearls you purchase have a certificate of authenticity or make sure you’re purchasing from a brand with a good reputation.

Types of Pearls

Approximately fifty percent of the cultured pearl industry is made up of Akoya pearls. This is mostly due to the diversity of colors and shapes that they come in. Akoya pearls are also the most commonly used pearl for strands. These pearls are cultivated in Japan. Akoya pearls are grown inside the Pinctada fucata mollusk 9 months to 2 years.

South Sea

These pearls are the rarest and most expensive. South Sea pearls are known for their high quality luster and large size and range from white to deep golden yellow. South Sea pearls are cultivated in Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and other areas of the South Pacific.


Tahitian pearls are generally known as black pearls, but the shades of these pearls range from light gray to dark black with green or purple hues. Tahitian pearls are cultivated in French Polynesia.


Freshwater pearls are less expensive than pearls cultured from sea mollusks because they generally have a lower luster. These pearls are grown from freshwater mussels in bays, rivers, and lakes and are more abundant. They are cultivated in Japan, China and the United States. Freshwater pearls are grown inside the Hyriopsis cummingi mollusk for 2-4 years. Freshwater pearls used to be more rice-shaped, but today the higher quality freshwater pearls are round and for those who are not pearl experts, these pearls can be mistaken for Akoya pearls.


Mabe pearls are irregularly shaped due to the fact that they are grown against the interior of the oyster shell instead of in the middle. They commonly have a flattened, rounded shape and are frequently used in earrings and rings. These pearls are cultivated in Japan, Indonesia, French Polynesia and Australia.

Types of Pearl Strands
Pearl Choker – 16 inches

The pearl choker is a classic and can be worn to any occasion, with any style. As this is the shortest style of pearl necklace, it would be better not to wear this style of pearl necklace if you have a short or long neck as it draws attention to the neck.

Pearl Princess – 18 inches

The length of this pearl necklace falls right around the neckline and accents the collar-bone. This is a great style of pearl necklace for office attire as it falls right around the neckline of a blouse.

Pearl Matinee – 24 inches

As a longer and more dramatic style of pearl necklace, the matinee is great for more formal events. This is also a good style of pearl necklace for girls with larger chests as it draws attention to the neck and shoulders and ends right above the cleavage.

Pearl Opera – 32 inches

This style of pearl necklace can be more versatile as it is long enough for a dramatic evening effect, and also can be double up to be worn as a choker for daytime events.

Pearl Rope – 46 inches

The pearl rope can be styled into numerous fashions. This strand can be double or tripled, twisted and knotted, and falls somewhere around the waistline. This style of pearl necklace is definitely an important piece for the fashion-forward.

Established in 1912, King Jewelers has proudly styled jewelry and timepiece aficionados from around the world. A pioneer among independent couture jewelers, King Jewelers has built an outstanding reputation steeped in quality, value and first-class customer service. King Jewelers features exclusive jewelry designers, offers in-house custom designs, private label jewelry collections, and is an authorized dealer for over forty luxury Swiss watch brands including Alpina, Bell & Ross, Bulgari, Breitling, Cartier, Chanel, Chopard, Concord, Dunhill, Ebel, Harry Winston, Hublot, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Jaquet Droz, Montblanc, Roger Dubuis, Swiss Army, TAG Heuer, and TechnoMarine. With two store locations in Aventura, FL and Nashville, TN, King Jewelers has won numerous awards as the Southeast’s top jewelry store and diamond wholesaler. With a diamond office located in Antwerp, Belgium since 1961, King Jewelers is able to offer Nashville and Miami custom diamond bridal designs and gem-quality loose diamonds at wholesale prices. King Jewelers is a member of the Jewelers of America, American Watch Guild, and the American Society of Appraisers. King Jewelers has GIA Certified Gemologists and offers expert jewelry and watch repairs.

For more information regarding natural pearls, please visit to view King Jewelers custom pearl jewelry designs as well as our Mikimoto pearl jewelry collections.


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