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Hey all-It’s Jamie  from Pyramid Studios with a blog on Freshwater Pearls!

As Dave at our jeweler’s bench says, “Diamonds, rubies, gold, silver- all gemstones and minerals have to be manipulated in some way after they’re discovered. Pearls arrive at the jeweler’s bench complete-organic and perfect.”

Pearls are not rocks created from heat and pressure under the layers of earth but “grow” within the body of mollusks in the oceans, lakes, rivers and streams across the globe. Any mollusk: scallop, clam, mussel or oyster can form a pearl. I’m focusing this blog entirely on Freshwater Pearls, those cultured in mussels, not their more expensive cousins from the saltwater oyster. This blog is about the affordable luxury of the Freshwater Pearl.

Virtually every culture has incorporated freshwater pearls into their mythology. Throughout history we have seen freshwater pearls associated with the most tenacious monsters and the highest ranking rulers of the world. The Chinese thought pearls to be the tears of dragons fighting in the sky and the ultimate in protection from fire-breathing dragons. Historians say one of the reasons Caesar invaded Great Britain was for the freshwater pearls.    Pliny, the 1st century Roman naturalist, tells how Cleopatra, when showing off to Marc Antony, claimed she could consume a whole nation’s worth of wealth. She then dissolved an extravagant pearl in wine and drank it, proving her claim correct.  (They had me at pearls and fire breathing dragons).

Most freshwater pearls sold today are now cultured in China. Amazing strides have been made in the hundred years since pearl culturing began. Pearls can now be grown in a multitude of shapes and sizes and also dyed to match any outfit.  Natural colors of freshwater pearls are whites and pastels like peach and lavender, but mineral dying in China allow them produce many more colors. Shapes include stick, teardrops, rice, rondelles, potato, baroque, stars, crosses, the “free form” keshi and, of course, the traditional round.

Round and classic white freshwater pearls make for must-have earring studs. Perfect for casual wear, at the job or for weddings and bridal party gifts. Like a pearl necklace they are one of the staples for any jewelry box. Pyramid Studios offers gem grade freshwater pearl with high luster in 5 mm–9 mm.  Other sizes and findings are available, such as lever backs or dangles. Matching pendants and bracelets are available or classic strands of round pearls.

Designing and stringing pearl jewelry at my beading bench is a highlight of any week. The finished pieces can range from casual to elegant.  As a consumer I know it’s a great feeling to have options. So at Pyramid Studios I take the time to knot or string our pearl necklaces into many styles. Currently I have a couple cool freshwater pearl necklace projects on the bench.

Wonderfully unique are the large white, freshwater, dancing pearls. “Dancing” pearls are  potato shaped pearls with holes drilled through each pearl at the top and sides so they twirl about the string instead of laying evenly in a linear fashion . I chose a gold filled clasp and gold filled findings to accentuate the elegant white of the pearls and create a fancier look. These dancing pearls are the perfect combination of fun and classy that would rock any occasion. Especially one with a dance floor!

Another necklace I just finished was a choker length, multi-color strand of pearls. All were pastels of white, lavender, light pink, light peach. Very natural looking colors, no hot pinks or metallic blues – the necklace has a classiness those colors would just drag down. This was done in traditional knotting and came to 16″, or choker length,  with a Sterling Silver clasp. I love the play of the simple pastels and the luster of these pearls.

What is choker length? A nice aspect of pearl necklaces— they are just like people and come in all shapes and sizes. Pearl strands range from choker length (14 to 16″), princess 17-21″ matinee (22-24″), opera length (25-36″) and anything past 37 inches is referred to as a pearl rope. So this pastel strand of freshwater pearls was a choker length (I wish they’d fine a better name!).

In addition to making pearl necklaces for Pyramid’s store, I can also repair or restring your pearl or beaded necklaces.

This part of the job is especially important because it’s typically fixing something sentimental in a person’s life. When should I restring your pearl necklace? Look for the signs to avoid loosing any of your pearls. If the strand is more than ten years old or if you wear your necklace frequently,  it’s a good idea to have it checked out. Over time, wear increases on the thread between the pearls and it can become thin enough to break. When you notice your pearl strand has stretched out or there is a lot of play between each pearl and the knots between pearls, that’s a sign put it in a ziplock baggie and get it repaired! Whether you are keeping your pearls “as is” to be passed down in the family or changing the pearl jewelry to match your personal style, make sure to be sure, because no two pearls are identical, a lost pearl is a lost pearl indeed.

What about jewelry without sentimental attachment? Maybe it’s a strand from the ex-boyfriend, whose name will not be mentioned. Or maybe you just need something new for the summer.  We can turn that old strand of pearls into something new.  Why settle for the necklace you don’t wear when can design the one of your dreams?

Creating new jewelry from old is only limited by the imagination. Necklaces can be lengthened or shortened. We can add sterling, gold or gemstone beads to accent the pearls or give new color. We can match an outfit or create a seasonal look. If there are excess pearls from a redesigned necklace, we can use those pearls to make matching earrings or a bracelet.  Basically it’s up to you! For more information on Pyramid Studios restringing services just click away right here.

So, bring your necklace by our shop, I have some suggestions. We can either make your necklace strong and secure again or make something new from the old. Or maybe interest you in something  to protect you from dragons.

This week through Friday, June 28 all our jewelry featuring Freshwater Pearls are 15% off! (The coupon code is FRESHWATER.)

We are Pyramid Studios at 10 State Street in Downtown Ellsworth, Maine. And, when it comes to custom jewelry, we rock!

Our store hours:

Wednesday – 10am – 5:30pm
Thursday – 10am – 5:30pm
Friday – 10am – 5:30pm
Saturday – 10am – 4:00pm
Sun/Mon/Tue – Closed

Our web store is open 24/7 and can be located here: Pyramid Studios.

Find, follow, and “like” Pyramid on Facebook by simply clicking here.

To read more about the fascinating history and biology of Freshwater Pearls please click that clicker right here.