One piece for all occasions
Throughout history, pearls have been a highly prized and sought-after item. The ancient Egyptians prized pearls so much that they were buried with them, and to some cultures pearls were considered the ultimate symbol of wealth and social standing; the Greeks valued them and held them in high esteem for their beauty and association with love and marriage.
Throughout Europe the royal courts were flooded with pearls, and in some countries laws were passed so only nobility were allowed to wear them. Until the early 1900s, pearls were accessible only to the rich and famous. Because their understated beauty was created entirely by a natural process, pearls of the very highest quality were at one time very rare. It wasn't until the late nineteenth century that a process was developed to cultivate them, so that nowadays pearls are affordable and available to all.
One long strand of pearls is a piece for all occasions. It can be worn in many ways; long around the neck or wrapped around 2 or 3 times. It can be tied in a knot, or with a brooch attached for a classic evening look. Any of these styles can be worn from morning to night with ease; they can highlight any outfit, and the luminescence of pearls is very flattering against the skin.
Here at John Lewis Kingston (and in most of our shops as well as online), we sell a variety of different pearls including freshwater, which have a more irregular shape than cultured. Freshwater pearls can be found in bays and rivers around the world.
They're easily cultivated from freshwater molluscs, and although less lustrous than salt water cultured pearls, their lower price plus irregular shape and colour has made them very popular. The most popular sizes are 6.55mm-7.5mm.
Caring for your pearls
Cultured pearls are relatively soft compared with gem stones and precious metals, so it's important to take care of your pearls so they remain bright and beautiful. Keep perfumes, hairsprays and facial cosmetics away from pearls, so it's best to apply all those things before you put on your pearls. Wiping your pearls regularly with a soft damp cloth will help protect them from the negative effects of cosmetics and the environment, but don't use any detergent to clean them.
When you're not wearing your pearls, keep them in a soft-lined box or pouch away from other jewellery. If you wear your pearls several times a week, it's a good idea to have them restrung once a year with a silk thread knotted between each pearl. Many jewellers offer this service.