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Buying Pearls

Pearls are one of nature's mysteries. They are beautiful, organic gems which have captivated us for centuries. Pearls are formed inside oysters or mussels by a secretion of calcium carbonate and conchiolin. No one quite knows why this occurs, but it is believed they react to an irritant inside the shell

Pearl Types

Akoya pearls

Akoya pearls are the classic white, saltwater pearls, which come from Japan and China. They typically have the highest lustre and the greatest shine of all cultured pearls. Akoya pearls range from 5mm to 11mm, with the 10-11mm sizes being the rarest. These pearls can either be white or cream in body colour and typically have rose, cream or ivory overtones.

South Sea Pearls
The undisputed Queen of Pearls is admired for her size and fine nuances of colour. South Sea pearls are saltwater pearls cultivated from oysters found in the South Seas, centering on Northern Australia and South-East Asia including Myanmar and Indonesia. They produce 10-20mm pearls of silver and gold colour and are the largest of the pearl types. South Sea pearls are also the most expensive pearls on the market due to their rarity and thick nacre.

Tahitian Pearls
Originating in the warm waters of the South Seas, Tahitian Pearls are cultivated by Black-Lipped Oysters. They are the only pearls to achieve a black body colour naturally and are typically very large, ranging from 9mm-16mm. Although mostly dark, they can come in a wide range of hues including black, grey, silver, green, blue and purple. They also have gorgeous overtones that give Tahitian pearls an incredible beauty of their own.

Freshwater Pearls
Freshwater pearls come from freshwater mussels and are primarily produced in China. These pearls are unsurpassed for variety and shape, with shades ranging from white to pastel colours such as pink, peach, lavender, plum, purple and tangerine, depending on the type of mussel. The typical size of these pearls ranges from 2-16mm, with 7-8mm being the most usual. In the early days of freshwater pearl production, they were frequently found in baroque shapes. However, with modern techniques they can be cultivated in virtually any round shape. They are highly versatile in the way that they can be worn and offer great value for money.

Grading Pearls

Pearls are graded by several factors.

Lustre is the primary characteristic that pearls are graded on when shape, colour, surface, size and symmetry are equal.

Lustre - is the sheen, the fascinating way a pearl reflects light, giving a soft shimmer which almost appears to emanate from within. The lustre gives a pearl its unique appearance and its seductive charm. This is the most important criteria.

Shape - has a major influence on value. Some occur as perfect spheres, which increases their worth. Others possess forms that emphasise a pearl's natural personality, such as baroque shapes.

Surface - always includes some unevenness, and this gives each pearl its unique character. However, generally speaking, the fewer the blemishes, the greater the value.

Size - has a limited impact on its value, and is only considered once other criteria have been taken into account. Nevertheless, prices usually rise in proportion to the size.

Colour - has, from an objective point of view, little to do with the quality of a pearl. However, it does influence the value. The rarer the colour, the greater the value.

Symmetry - is of vital importance to the quality. A row of pearls should have a harmonious combination of lustre, shape, surface, size and colour. Our buyers only select pearls that conform to these exacting standards.

Pearl Care

Pearls are durable, however, care is necessary to keep them beautiful and lustrous.

They should be kept separately from other items of jewellery, which may scratch their surface, and they should be gently wiped with a soft cloth to remove body oil or dirt before putting them away.  We would also advise storage in a soft pouch or cloth. The atmosphere in which they are kept should not be too hot or dry as this can lead to cracking of the surface. With that in mind storing your pearls above a radiator or TV can be detrimental to its colour. It’s also very important that you do NOT use any chemicals or soap when cleaning your pearls. A soft cloth is all you need.

Care should be taken to avoid contact with chlorine, bleach, vinegar, ammonia, hairspray and perfume, as contact with these substances will damage the surface. That being said, it is advised not to wear foundation or perfume around your neck whilst wearing pearls. Most pearl rows are strung on silk thread, which is extremely durable and flexible, but can rot if emerged or exposed to water in the pool, ocean, or shower. If worn regularly, the thread can stretch and eventually break. We would recommend that your pearls are inspected and, if required, re-threaded every six to twelve months.

At Hettich

Mikimoto pearls

What is the world’s oldest known gem? If you answered diamonds or rubies, you might be surprised to know it’s actually the pearl. Believed to bring wealth, good luck, love and protection, ancient civilisations viewed pearls as magical talismans that had been mysteriously formed by the ocean. These gems of the sea have always been prized, from Julius Caesar who ruled that only the Roman aristocracy were entitled to wear pearls to Queen Elizabeth I, who was rumoured to own a staggering 3,000 pearl-adorned gowns. 

But in the early 1900s, everything changed when Kokichi Mikimoto, the son of a Japanese udon shop owner created the world’s first truly spherical pearl. Driven by a desire to protect the balance between man and nature, Mikimoto introduced an irritant into oysters to stimulate the secretion of nacre, and cultured a perfectly round pearl. This discovery changed the international market and made Mikimoto’s dream of ‘adorning the necks of all women around the world’ a possibility. From the flapper girls of the Jazz age to the influence of the designer Coco Chanel, wearing pearls became a new and powerful feminine aesthetic and by 1935, Mikimoto’s 350 pearl farms were producing 10 million cultured pearls a year. 

Mikimoto died in 1954 but his passion for craftsmanship remains part of his brand’s legacy. Each Mikimoto harvested pearl is selected for its lustre, surface perfection, shape, colour and size and is examined in daylight to ensure its natural beauty shines. Only 18k gold, platinum and naturally coloured gemstones are used to enhance Mikimoto pearl jewellery, easily identifiable by the signature M logo charm. 

Today, Hettich is proud to be the exclusive destination for Mikimoto pearls in Jersey. Each pearl harvested is as individual as a fingerprint, and at Hettich you can find your perfect match, from classically elegant pearl jewellery to luminous and refined contemporary designs. Discover all the beauty and romance of these exquisite natural gems of the sea for yourself, exclusively at Hettich.

Modern Elegance

Pearls at Hettich

From Akoya and South Sea pearls to Tahitian and Freshwater, we've captured all of nature's mysteries in pearls. Our passion ensures that we always carry a fantastic selection in stock.

View Pearls