All pearls used in our line are called Freshwater Pearls. They are “cultured” which means that the mollusks which grew them were implanted or seeded by humans. Almost all pearls sold today are cultured. The largest producers of pearls are either China or Japan.
Freshwater pearl cultivation can be traced as far back as the 13th century in China. It was in Japan that they were first grown and harvested commercially. Today they are grown in mussels, most often the sankaku.
Cultured pearls are formed by a mussel when a small piece of mantle is inserted and becomes an irritant. The mantle is the membranous tissue which secretes nacre and lines the inner surface of a shelled mollusk. The mussel covers the irritating tissue with nacre. This nacre is the protective pearly substance for which a pearl is so highly valued. The shape of a pearl is determined in part by the shape of the irritant, what nutrients the mussel is receiving and the flow of water over and through the beds.
Until the 1930’s, a small shell bead and a piece of mantle were inserted as an irritant. About this same time it was accidentally discovered that only a piece of mantle is necessary. This simplified technique results in pearls having a greater thickness of nacre. It was also discovered that after the first harvest, mussels can sometimes spontaneously grow pearls a second and third time. It can take 6months to 3 years to grow and harvest the pearls depending upon the size.
Freshwater pearls come in many colors: creamy yellow, pink, grey and white are their predominant natural hues. Even though some are bleached, dyed, or irradiated to enhance or darken the pearl’s natural color they are still considered natural and offer you a greater palate of colors at reasonable prices.
Our necklaces are strung with with soft flex cable which is both strong and durable. See below.
Our stringing, for properly cared for pearl strands (as described above), is guaranteed for one year from date of purchase. We cannot, however, guarantee the luster.
The world of beading products has been improving by leaps and bounds over the past ten years. Old cable, sometimes called tigertail, was stiff, kinked easily and was only available in one color, grey.
The new brand of soft-flex cable is a great product because it requires so little maintenance and is extremely strong and supple. It comes in many colors and thicknesses so it can be customized to the size and color of the bead.
I always use a cable which is made of 7 strands of 7 strands or 49 strands of stainless steel which is twisted together and covered with a fine coating of clear or colored plastic. The beauty of this product is that your piece may never need to be restrung.
I use a combination of construction techniques to string pearls: Sometimes I use small rubber beads (2mm) between the pearls and knot every 5th one. Sometimes I will use a small crimp bead between each pearl. I finish the ends with a crimp bead and or a knot. You will see this as a small silver bead at the beginning or end of the strand usually at the clasp. I also use wire guardian which protects the end loop from abrasion.
I also use the soft flex cable in all my gemstone necklaces and I will either knot or use a crimp bead in these pieces as well. I finish the ends with a crimp bead and a wire guardian which protects the end loop from abrasion.
I will restring any strand free of charge if it breaks or comes apart within the first year of purchase.
Some things you can do to prolong the life of the softflex are:
- Never store your necklace by hanging it from a hook
- Store your piece gently coiled in the provided ziplock bag or box.
- Do not store it in the sun
- Keep them out of hands of small children
- You can wash your piece periodically in mild soap and water to remove the oils from the beads. It can be dried and worn immediately.
Remember my rule for wearing jewelry… Last on, First off.
We guarantee our jewelry for one year from day of purchase.
If for any reason you feel your piece needs to be restrung, please call the shop for a price quote. 907 479 4568 or 1800 478 4568 Alaska Time