Thousands of years ago, perhaps while foraging for food along an ancient seashore, an enterprising person first pried an oyster open. That person was undoubtedly surprised to find a beautiful pearl cradled inside the oyster’s delicious flesh. Unlike crystalline gems such as emeralds and rubies, which are hidden in pockets of the earth’s crust, pearls are precious gems formed inside the bodies of oysters and other mollusks.
The process of pearl formation begins when a tiny foreign particle gets stuck between the body and the shell of a mollusk. To protect itself, the mollusk secretes a substance called nacre to surround the particle. Over a lengthy period of time, the layers of nacre build up and eventually form a lustrous, iridescent pearl.
Pearls come in a wide variety of lovely colors, ranging from classic white to creamy gold, pale pink, burnished silver or dramatic black. Their sizes range from delicate seed pearls, even smaller than the size of a baby’s first tooth, to confident statement pearls the size of dimes, nickels or quarters.
Although many people adore the unique qualities of pearls, some may avoid choosing them, thinking that they are too fragile or difficult to take care of. However, pearls can last for generations if a few simple rules are followed. For example, pearls should not be cleaned with harsh solvents, doused with hairspray or worn in the shower. A gentle occasional polishing with a soft cloth or chamois will help keep your pearls gleaming. Your jeweler will be happy to share more tips on keeping your pearls in excellent condition.
The wondrous variety of pearl colors and sizes creates an enjoyable challenge for jewelry designers and connoisseurs alike. Strands of pearls are a classic choice for wearers, as they are simultaneously modern and timeless. Pearls are equally appealing as a luxurious component of earrings, bracelets and rings.
At Schmidt Jewelers in Arkansas City, Kansas, the discerning customer can choose from a dazzling array of pearl pieces to suit every taste. Stop in or give us a call today, and let our friendly, knowledgeable staff help you find the perfect pearl!