The Classics Revisited

The Classics Revisited

Is there anything that is really considered classic in jewellery?

Maybe are there no real classics, just the style of the day? A la Mode?

I have been staying in a lot during the cold, dark, winter days; hibernating and watching movies and award shows.

Turner Classic Movies are such an inspiration. Hollywood Glam, Netflicks’ The Crown shows Queen Elizabeth coming to age, Royalty,  Block Busters – The New Hollywood -.

When I think about the classics I think about pearls.  Long before the discovery of diamonds and platinum, pearls were the most valued gem in the world.

According to the Cultured Pearl Association of America Inc. luster, size, shape, colour, and nacre along with thickness and surface quality are the factors that determine the value of the pearl.

I would also add into this the variety of pearl i.e. Salt Water -vs – Fresh Water Pearls. Virtually all pearls today are cultured, making natural pearls the highest valued.

So what does cultured mean?  Man introduces a seed or a bead, usually round, into a bivalve mollusk. The bivalve forms a coating around the bead called a nacre. In a natural pearl, a pieces of sand or debris enters the bivalve naturally and the nacre is formed. This does not happen very often so now people plant seeds in oysters to start this process.

Natural pearls are highly valued. An example of this is that Cartier purchased his building on Fifth Avenue in NYC with two matching natural pearls.

While single, double and triple strand pearls are still the ultimate in classic jewellery, pearls incorporated into contemporary designs offer the best of both worlds.

This series will continue to talk at how to choose a classic strand of pearls that is worthy of becoming a family heirloom to be handed down to future generations.

Below are some examples of contemporary designs using pearls

The first image is of work by resident goldsmith Hyewon Jang, the second is of student work.


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