A Buying Guide to Pearls
One of the world's favourite and most precious gemstones, the pearl is loved throughout the world for its beauty, subtlety and grace.
A Short History of the Pearl
With its lustrous and distinctive shimmering appearance, few gemstones have fascinated us to the extent that the pearl has, creating myths and legends around the world.
The mysterious pearl was first thought to be created by the teardrops of a mermaid, a dewdrop from the moon or a gift to dedicate to the goddess of love.
Recent evidence suggests than mankind was diving for natural pearls almost 7,500 years ago. Ever since, pearls have constantly adorned our fine jewellery, art and fashion.
The most beautiful natural pearls extravagantly decorated the gowns of European royalty and were coveted for their rarity and value. Today, natural pearls are rare and highly sought after.
With the introduction of the cultured pearl from Japan in the 1920s, the pearl has achieved broader luxury and fashionable appeal.
The delicate and subtle refinement of the pearl still has an important symbolic status with many new brides will choosing to wear an elegant piece of pearl jewellery on their wedding day.
The influence of the iconic pearl's elegant and classic style with contemporary designers and popular culture is as strong today as it has been since those early times.
How Pearls Are Formed
Uniquely formed inside a living saltwater oyster or freshwater mussel, a real pearl can either be naturally created or cultured with human assistance.
The creation of a natural pearl is a rare event that is believed to start as a result of an injury to the mollusc, not with a grain of sand as many once believed.
It will take years for the mollusc to slowly deposit concentric layers of an organic material called nacre to form a natural pearl.
Techniques for culturing pearls in oysters and mussels have been developed in the last hundred years to replicate this natural process. Almost all the real pearls available today are now cultured with human assistance.
Pearl farms are usually located in freshwater lakes, remote coastal and ocean areas, mainly in China, Japan, Indonesia, the South Pacific and Australia.
Once the pearl culturing process has been started, the pearl farmer has little direct control over of the final size, shape and colour of the pearl produced.
The diversity of hues, overtones and shapes is just one reason for the enduring beauty of these lustrous gemstones.
The breathtaking pearl is one of the most beautiful of gems, renowned for its luxurious qualities and heritage.
The shimmering reflections from a pearl's surface are its most important quality.
Each collection of Winterson jewellery is truly inspired and defined by the lustre of luxury.