Pearls of wisdom: 10 things you should know about cultured pearls
- Mara S. Miano () - June 6, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Pearls are living gems. You should take care of them like you would take care of a living organism,” said Jewelmer’s Laetitia Meriguet at the Alabang Style Souk last Sunday. It was yet another unique shopping experience at the Ayala Malls, this time down south in the newly renovated Alabang Town Center. The event, hosted by Bianca Valerio, featured pioneer jewelry emporium Jewelmer, celebrity stylist Alyanna Martinez and the Body Shop beauty expert Argie Lingat.

We’ve been seeing the classic gem on A-listers such as Michelle Obama and Oprah, but younger celebrities have been putting a twist to the ubiquitous pearl necklace by layering it with their favorite neck pieces, as seen on Rihanna and Selene Gomez. Whether you’re seeking to try the look for a casual day out or the upcoming wedding month, here are some of Jewelmer’s useful tips on how to wear, care and shop for pearls the right way.

1. Sheer brilliance. The most crucial factor of a pearl is its luster, not its size. Luster is the amount of light reflected on the pearl’s surface — the more reflective the pearl, the more valuable it is. Meriguet suggests, “What I do is I put a finger next to the pearl, and if the pearl reflects my fingernail clearly, then I know it’s of high quality.”

2. Size matters. Big pearls cost more. South Sea pearls, Jewelmer’s specialty product, are the rarest and biggest in the world. “Be careful though, some pearl vendors take large freshwater pearls and tint it gold or black, then claim them to be South Sea pearls.”

3. Don’t be fooled. To know if the pearl is real, rub it against another pearl, or against your teeth. If the pearl is too smooth, it’s a knockoff. Make sure to buy pearls from a reputable source. Most pearl jewelry come with a certificate, which states where it was made and what country it’s from.

4. Beauty in imperfection. Natural or cultured, all real pearls have blemishes. Though usually jewelry buyers prefer pearls that have an almost flawless surface, some girls like it when pearls have little chips or imperfections, which makes the pearls one-of-a-kind and proves its genuity.

5. Win the gold. Gold South Sea pearls are the rarest and most expensive kind. The Philippines, particularly Palawan, is known all over the world to be a highly regarded source of gold South Sea pearls. It is also the Philippines’ national gem. Meriguet stresses, “Wearing a gold South Sea pearl is a nationalistic statement, because our country is known for it!”

6. No chemicals allowed. Pearls, like any other precious gem, are susceptible to chemicals. Do not spray on perfume or hairspray, and don’t swim in chlorinated pools, while wearing your pearl jewelry. This will make the pearl’s luster deteriorate and will lower its resale value. To clean your pearls, wipe with a dry cloth, or use mild soap if necessary. Don’t use alcohol or other chemicals, even jewelry cleaners.

7. Pearls get thirsty, too. Pearls need moisture to maintain its radiance. If you keep your pearls in dry storage, put a glass of water next to it. “After a month or two, you’ll notice the glass empties. Pearls are living gems, they absorb the moisture.” says Meriguet. “It’s ironic, but the best way to maintain your pearls is to wear them all the time. Your skin’s natural warmth and sweat will keep the pearls luminescent.”

8. Worth the price. Saltwater pearls, especially South Sea pearls, are expensive because it takes a saltwater oyster up to five years to make one single pearl. Freshwater mussells, on the other hand, only take six months, and can be reused to make 50 to 100 pearls. Saltwater oysters cannot grow another pearl after one has been harvested.

9. Know your purpose. Appropriate pearl jewelry with your purpose. Large pearl necklaces are statement pieces for events and special occassions, but stick to low-key or single-pendant necklaces for everyday wear. Meriguet tips, “I usually don’t prefer wearing pearl rings for everyday use because they get scratched easily.”

10. With strings attached. “When we make our jewelry, we tie a knot after every pearl so it doesn’t all fall out if the string breaks.” Meriguet claims. Pearl necklaces and bracelets, after constant wear, tend to weaken and eventually snap. Jewelmer, however, allows their customers to have their pieces re-stringed for free if the jewelry gives out.

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Style Souk is a project of Style Origin, a collaborative effort between Ayala Malls, The Philippine STAR and Tiger 22, supported by Visa, Globe and Samsung.

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