(Image courtesy of Narayan Jewellers.)
Look straight ahead.
Meet their gaze.
Take a deep breath.
Let it go.
Show them what you’re made of.
(Image courtesy of Narayan Jewellers.)
Look straight ahead.
Meet their gaze.
Take a deep breath.
Let it go.
Show them what you’re made of.
(Cultured Pearl, Platinum and Diamond Necklace, Circa 1940; image courtesy of Sotheby’s.)
Natural pearls, as the name suggests, are formed without any influence from mankind, whatsoever. They form in the bodies of shellfish also known as mollusks.
Cultured pearls, on the other hand, are, yet again as the name suggests, grown in a special preparation and specifically for the purpose of collecting pearls then used in the process of jewellery making.
There are four kinds of cultured pearls:
Most often cultivated in Tahiti and other islands of French Polynesia which is where the name comes from. These pearls are an average of 9.5 mm with shapes that range from spherical to oval to baroque; they come in colours of Black to brown with bluish green hues and overtones between green, blue and pink. Tahitian pearls have a fair amount of lustre and the surface quality ranges from spotted to clean and the nacre quality is quite decent as well.
These pearls are cultivated in saltwater bodies in Japan and China with an average size of 6 to 8 mm in near-round and round spheres. Akoya pearls are mostly white or creamy with yellowish pinkish hues in overtones of pink or green. More than acceptable lustre accompanied by surfaces that aren’t too marred but fairly clean with a chalky to acceptable nacre.
(Two Cultured Pearl and Diamond Necklace and Pair of Matching Earrings; image courtesy of Sotheby’s.)
South Sea Pearls:
These pearls are cultivated in the regions surrounding the Philippines, the land down under; Australia and Indonesia. The orb-like pearls are of an average size nearing 13 mm and the shape ranges from round to baroque with colours that are rather sombre in elegant tones of white, cream and silver with yellowish, orangey bluish tones and overtones of pinks, greens and blues. The lustre of these gems is more than acceptable to them, a healthy amount of sparkle and reflection, a mostly clean surface with an acceptable nacre quality.
Chinese Freshwater Pearls:
These freshwater pearls are often cultured in freshwater ponds or lakes, in the USA and China for the most part. The typical size of such a cultured gem is between 4 to 14 mm in a range that again falls anywhere between round and sem0i-round to baroque. The colours these come in are white or cream with colourful hues that are yellow, orange, pink and purple. The overtone adds a rather lovely mix to the pearl with colours of pink, blue and green of which the orient plays a part as well. The lustre is nothing short of admirable with a surface that is mostly clean or in some cases moderately / slightly spotted with a yet again acceptable nacre quality.
The process of culturing pearls as such deals with a trained expert extracting mantle tissue from a mollusc and inserting a small part of the tissue along with a shell bead into the gonad or mantle of another host mollusc. Over time the tissue grows and a sac is formed around the bead onto with nacre is secreted and eventually, voila; a pearl forms!
(Magnificent natural pearl and diamond necklace, image courtesy of Sotheby’s.)
These little orbs are first housed by oysters on the ocean floor then by glass showcases on land in quaint settings where people go to purchase a little bit of beauty to light up their lives or simply to benefit from a bit of retail therapy.
Pearls have, since time immemorial, been a subject of absolute fascination.
Lustre is of prime importance for it is what determines the quality and value of a pearl first and foremost and this can be derived from the reflections upon its surface, whether they are bright and sharp or blurry and unclear.
The iridescent quality of a pearl also known as the nacre is the thin film covering the pearl. The nucleus is visible under the nacre, and the appearance can be hazy or clear depending on the thickness of the nacre which in turn decides just how indestructible the gem is.
Appearances do mean a lot when it comes to gems, any scratches on the surface of the pearl could lessen its value.
Colours can range from soft and subtle to sharp and bright, dark to light and in shades of white, cream, yellow and pink to blues greens and black. These can be the overall colour; the body of the pearl, the translucent colours that cover the dominant colour which is called the overtone and the Orient colour which looks similar to the colours of the rainbow which seem to be right at the top.
(Rare and Impressive natural pearl and diamond tiara, Chaumet, 1920; image courtesy of Sotheby’s.)
The shape most desirable are, of course, the round one but those pearls that come in the shapes of pears, an oval or irregular shapes; baroque pearls are also quite fascinating.
Larger pearls are of more value as well, in comparison to the ones of a smaller size.
Last and certainly not the least, it is of significance that the pearls match one another especially when they are to be strung together or in order to form a set. This is when it all comes together, size, shape, colour, surface quality, nacre and lustre!
More information in the next post!
(Princess Diana wearing the Sapphire and Diamond Pearl choker; image courtesy of PEOPLE)
This lovely sapphire surrounded by diamonds was originally a brooch that was a wedding gift to the late Princess Diana from the late Queen Mother. The princess had it modified into a pendant to be set among seven strands of pearls. It made for a spectacular choker necklace.
(Princess Di in the three stranded pearl choker; image courtesy of the Royal Post.)
Another pearl choker that the Princess wore often consisted of three rows with a turquoise and pearl cluster clasp, which the Princess wore in the front or hidden at the back of her neck. She later altered the clasp to one made up entirely of pearls.
(Princess Di in various pearl necklaces; images courtesy of Pinterest and PEOPLE.)
Whether it was the eleven stranded pearl necklace with diamond and ruby spacers or double-stranded long classic pearl necklaces or layers of pearls with a pearl drop pendant (borrowed from Fergie), the Princess carried off the effortlessly elegant look that was only enhanced by the pearl jewellery.
(The late Princess in the diamond and pearl necklace in 1997; image courtesy of Marie Claire.)
The diamond and pearl necklace is one worn by the late Princess during her last official engagement before her tragic demise in 1997. It was said to have a brilliant cut diamond and marquise diamond scroll motif centre, with a South Sea cultured pearl five stone and marquise diamond fringe drop.
Safe to say, royalty or not, pearls suggest sophistication, taste and a timeless elegance.
(Coco Chanel; image courtesy of Vogue.)
Blame it on Coco. Not only did Gabrielle Coco Chanel relieve us women of the restraining corset and introduce us to chic clothing we can actually take a breath in (boxy tops and pants ladies!) but she made costume jewellery a thing. Faux bling! This rule-breaker was of the opinion that a woman should have options whenever she wished to accessorize and costly jewellery shouldn’t hold said woman back. I’m sure a lot of us would chime in with a Hallelujah Amen!
(Gabrielle Coco Chanel (52) – 1935 – Photo by Man Ray; image courtesy of Pinterest.)
“A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls.” Coco said so and she lived by those words, the proof, so to speak is in the photographic pudding. She wore them, piled them on, to be specific and there are a whole lot of pictures to prove the fact. She believed that costume jewellery was provocative, that pearls went with a whole lot of outfits, that they lent grace and that elusive finishing touch to most looks. She has been a pioneer walking the pearl laden path and paving the way for fashionistas since the 1930s.
As for her designs, the pearl necklaces were created in the same way that she’d wear them, more than a single strand, more than a few strands of cultured pearls; ropes and ropes of them as Coco would say.
More talk about pearls in the next post!
(Jackie Kennedy, Caroline and John Fitzgerald Kennedy by Jacques Lowe, 1960; image courtesy of The Red List.)
Proof of need, the need for pearls, even if faux, so be it.
The epitome of grace herself, Jackie Kennedy has said so, thus it must be Gospel truth; “Pearls are always appropriate.” She practiced what she preached as well, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s faux triple strands of pearls are as iconic as the icon herself. You will find multiple pictures captured of her in vastly different situations ranging from domestic to celebratory to official and public and you will notice those orbs lending their luminescence to her inherent elegance every single time. Fun fact – faux is the keyword. Those pearls were artificial, not that the little fact took away from their simple beauty and Jackie, the fashion icon spoke from experience; wearing them everywhere and ever so often, proving that pearls are, in fact, always appropriate.
(Vintage 1990s Jackie Kennedy Faux Pearl Three Strand Necklace Franklin Mint; image courtesy of etsy.)
Franklin Mint crafted a rather beautiful reproduction of Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s legendary Triple-Strand Faux Pearl Necklace and it was made up of 158 hand-painted, European glass pearls that exactly matched the creamy original colour of Jackie O’s pearls and were strung on hand-knotted silken cords. The necklace had a rhodium-plated art-deco style clasp with 14 Austrian crystals.
The Franklin Mint sold over 130,000 such copies of the faux pearls at $200 each which grossed $26 million, a rather lump sum and to think they were inspired by the not-nearly-as-expensive-original-fake-pearls that belonged to the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis!
More on legendary faux pearls that shot to fame thanks to the individual donning them in the next post!
(Karat gold, turquoise and diamond necklace, David Webb; image courtesy of Sotheby’s.)
A matrix, unlike the film trilogy, is a mass of fine-grained rock that plays host to gems, crystals and fossils as well. The matrix often leaves marks on its guests; the turquoise in question is marked by its host rock with a spider-web pattern of inclusions in shades of brown or black. Sometimes these patterns are so finely and evenly distributed that jewellers opt to leave the natural pattern in instead of cutting them out. However, it has to be noted, that stones without the matrix inclusions are preferred.
Cabochons, beads and others forms are possibilities for natural untreated turquoise gems where they can be turned into jewellery and are in high demand because untreated turquoise stones are rare. Treated turquoise stones are those infused with some sort of binding agent to make the stone a lot harder than what it is when it arrives straight from the mine and also where the colour is enhanced. Mined stones are often too porous to cut into and must be treated with polymers before they are ready to be cut; this reduces the value of the stone.
(Spider-web turquoise Navajo cuff; image courtesy of Pinterest.)
The intensity of the colour (a strong shade of blue, preferably sky-blue to the blue of a robin’s egg) and the hardness of the turquoise are what determine the stone’s value. Copper plays a significant role in the colouring of this stone. The gemstone is of a rather delicate nature wherein it can be tainted by perfume, cosmetics or solvents of any sort which is why certain care must be taken and too much direct exposure to sunlight should be avoided as much as possible.
Dyed stones and imitation pieces have ruined things for this gem market-wise which is why it is always best to be careful while making purchases. So be cautious and make sure your source is a reliable one.
(A turquoise-set and enamelled gold necklace, North India, 19th century; image courtesy of Pinterest.)
Turquoise is as exquisite a visual treat as the word itself sounds coming out of one’s mouth. It occurs in the colours ranging from gorgeous blue to hues of green and what it has in common with precious metals gold, silver and copper are that it is one of the few precious elements that are wildly popular through their colours. Hence the colour it occurs in becomes the name it is known by; Turquoise.
(A large turquoise-ground ‘Bajixiang’ Cloisonne-Imitation Vase; image courtesy of Sotheby’s.)
History suggests that light was first shown on this precious mineral when it was brought to Europe from Turkey sometime in the 17th Century and it was around then that it was christened the turquoise, French for “Turkish”. The turquoise comes from Persia which is why it is also sometimes referred to as Persian blue.
It is an opaque mineral which is a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminium. Rare and prized for being a fine find in nature, Turquoise has been used as an ornament for ages, other than a prized gemstone of which jewellery is made, it is used in inlay, in pottery and in sculpture as well.
More on Turquoise in the next post!
(A Blue Sapphire ring; image courtesy of Sotheby’s.)
The Blue Sapphire, also known as Neelam is ruled by the planet Saturn which is the second -largest planet in our solar system. The gas giant is also one of the most beautiful planets owing to the many ringlets that are formed around it.
The blue sapphire is said to possess a mystical force that can be highly beneficial to the wearer in terms of material prosperity, personal health, and some of the resultant effects are satisfaction and joy which leads to a healthy mind-set. It is also said to return what the person has lost – material wealth. The downside to this gemstone is that it may respond to the wearer in a less than pleasing manner so it is highly recommended that the wearer give it a trial period before wearing it permanently.
(A Hessonite Garnet ring; image courtesy of Pinterest.)
Hessonite also referred to as the cinnamon stone and comes most often from India and Sri Lanka. Its colour lies somewhere between red and yellow. It also goes by the name “Gomed”. It is associated with a rogue planet called Rahu in Vedic astrology and is quite often associated with its partner in crime Ketu. Rahu is the northern lunar node because astronomically it denotes a point of intersection where the celestial paths of the sun and moon cross.
Hessonite is said to deflect all sorts of malevolence, including petty minded ill-wishers, thus protecting the wearer. It is recommended for those individuals involved in the discipline of law and order and for those who are engaged in judicial crossfire; judges, lawyers, practitioners of justice in any shape or form.
(Cat’s-eye Chrysoberyl and Diamond ring; image courtesy of Sotheby’s.)
Cat’s Eye is a gemstone that also goes by the name Lahasunya and it is associated with the celestial body called Ketu; the one paired with Rahu. Ketu is the south lunar node; the southern point of intersection on the celestial paths that the sun and moon cross.
The Cat’s Eye is also known to ward off evil and black magic or dark practice of occult of any kind. It is most suitable for those who are ambitious and aim to climb the social ladder in the field of politics particularly and positions of high authority. This gem can right the wrongs that are a result of contention born of envy; like the blots on a person’s reputation. This stone acts as a precautionary measure in cases that involve malice or spiteful acts.
It is important yet again to make mention of the fact that these gems must not be bought without a visit to a genuine Vedic astrologer; an expert in all matters concerning this age-old Indian tradition.
(Genuine natural cabochon red coral diamond ring; image courtesy of Pinterest.)
Coral is the gemstone associated with Mars which is the fourth planet from the sun. Mars is known as the red planet and its name is a result of the red soil/ dust that covers it.
Coral grows below sea level in dark environments and it is the intensity of the red colour that determines its preciousness. Seemingly, a lot of its characteristics where Vedic astrology is concerned are derived from its colour.
It is believed that coral heals blood-related illnesses. Fevers are said to be cured through the use of coral; tropical fevers, chicken pox, jaundice, impotency, anaemia, weakness, sluggishness, body aches, allergies, inflammation, cough and cold, bronchitis, pneumonia and certain other ailments. It is also believed that red coral instils courage in the wearer and ensures material success in a person’s life.
(An emerald and diamond ring; image courtesy of Christie’s.)
According to Vedic astrology, the emerald is the gemstone born of the mineral; green beryl and it is associated with the smallest planet in our solar system which also happens to be the closest to the sun; Mercury.
The emerald is believed to affect metal capabilities and has a significant influence on the intelligence of an individual. It is also said to improve a person’s memory, their communication skills, their sixth sense or what we may call intuition, the intellect each one is blessed with and the ability to learn new things and imbibe them. The emerald is also said to have a substantial effect on the digestive system, the liver, the tissues, on the lungs, the throat and on the entire nervous system.
For all these reasons the above-mentioned gemstones are affiliated with Vedic astrology and should be bought or made use of only as prescribed by a trusted expert and Vedic astrologer as per one’s beliefs and needs.
More on gemstones related to Vedic Astrology in the next post!