Agape Pearls


All about Pearls

Pearls have a long and varied history. For more than four thousand years, they have been recognized for their beauty and value. Most ancient cultures (Egypt, the Arab world, Native American tribes, etc.) cherished pearls above all other gems and imparted them with mystical features from purity to healing powers. Many cultures considered pearls to be prized possessions and were attainable for royal use only – mainly because there were such limited quantities. In a completely natural state, only a very small percentage of mollusks will ever produce a pearl and only a few of them will develop a desirable size, shape, and color; only a small fraction of those will be harvested by humans. It is commonly assumed that one in ten-thousand mollusks naturally produce gem quality pearls. Therefore, in ancient times, only the very wealthy could afford pearls.

Through carefully managed culturing processes, pearls are now available to most anyone that would like to have them. The Chinese market supplies roughly 90% of the world’s cultured freshwater pearls and the quality of these pearls has improved tremendously. With a total production of 1,500 tons of exported pearls per year, China holds a monopoly over the pearl industry. Other countries supply smaller overall numbers of pearls but may be more exotic, such as the South Sea Pearls or those from Australia and New Zealand.

Agape Pearls has multiple pearl vendors in several provinces throughout China. These vendors have consistently supplied our company with very fine quality pearl products and we are truly excited about being in a position to offer them to you at reasonable prices. We have travelled to many of the pearl farms and pearl markets to bring you the best pearls at the most reasonable prices possible.

Pearls’ Mystical Properties
Different cultures infuse pearls with mystical and healing qualities (much like the current beliefs with respect to crystals). Pearls were said to symbolize tears, to provide love and fertility, to symbolize purity, and to ward off evil. Even the colors of pearls have sometimes been associated with certain qualities: black or gold with wealth, blue with love, and pink with success.

In the Christian faith, the pearl was adopted as a symbol of purity. For example, pearls are often associated with brides and weddings. Most brides prefer white or off white pearls but many of the natural colored pearls work well when matching bridesmaids’ dresses and make a nice complement to the bride’s pearls.

Pearl Farming
Cultured pearls are grown on pearl farms found around lakes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers. Several thousand mollusks are imbedded with the irritant and then cared for during the 3-5 years required for a pearl to grow and develop. These mollusks are extremely sensitive to water pollution, severe storms, excessive heat or cold, disease, and many other natural and man-made phenomena. Every effort is made to ensure that the mollusks are farmed in water that is clean (not polluted); additionally, human intervention is used to ensure that the mollusk lives for the full amount of time required to culture the pearls.

Lengths of Pearl Necklaces
In the world of pearl necklaces, there is a vocabulary used to describe each length. Most other necklaces are referred to by their measurement in inches; pearl necklaces are named by how low they hang when worn around the neck. A collar, measuring 10 to 13 inches in length, sits directly against the throat and does not hang down the neck at all; collars are often made up of multiple strands of pearls. Pearl chokers, measuring 14 to 16 inches in length, nestle just at the base of the neck. A strand called a princess length, measuring 17 to 19 inches in length, comes down to or just below the collarbone. A matinee length, measuring 20 to 24 inches in length, falls just above the breasts. An opera length, measuring 28 to 35 inches in length, will be long enough to reach the breastbone or sternum of the wearer. To be worn during the day in less formal settings, the strand can be doubled over. The opera necklace is 30-36 inches long. When a woman wants to wear the longest of all pearl style necklaces, she is wearing a rope. It is appropriate to wear the necklace doubled or knotted. Rope necklaces are over 36 inches long and can be as long as 58 inches.

Pearl Care
Because pearls are an organic gemstone, they are somewhat different from other gemstones and precious metals. They are softer and more delicate; therefore, they are more easily scratched, cracked, and damaged. Pearls can also be damaged by perfume, hair spray, hand lotion, soap, etc. – anything “chemical” or not natural. The damage shows up when the pearls' luster becomes dull or flat in tone. The easiest way to remember the best way to wear pearls is that they are natural and they “like” natural substances.

It is important to remember to apply perfume, hair spray, and other cosmetics before putting on pearls. This is the best way to minimize the pearls coming into contact with these types of chemicals. It is essential that pearl jewelry be removed when bathing, or in the case of rings, removed before washing hands. After wearing pearl jewelry, it is best to wipe them with a soft cloth to remove any traces of cosmetic products or body oils. No other care is necessary – avoid any type of “pearl cleaner” – they are typically corrosive. Even a mild soap can be corrosive to pearls.

Agape Pearls provides silk bags with the sale of any pearl jewelry. Although really pretty, the silk bags serve a very important purpose and we strongly encourage all of our customers to be diligent in using the bags for their jewelry. The silk bags keep pearls separate of other jewelry to avoid scratches or other damage. Also, remember that hanging pearl necklaces is not a good idea because it encourages stretching of the silk threads.