Pearls – fortuitous products and registers of passing time – were the first gemstones used by man as adornment. Each pearl is unique in shape, color, superficial impressions, size and orient – the rainbow of colors that can exist in the shine of a pearl. This is what makes them naturally beautiful, rare and mysterious.
The appraisal team that works for Antonio Bernardo carefully analyzes these fundamental characteristics, establishing groups of rare gems, of large size or which share, among other factors, equivalent colors and shapes. This selection process in fundamental in jewel design, given the infinite types of pearls available all over the world.
Pearls are considered organic gems because they are created by living creatures. Salt water oysters and freshwater mussels, for example, react to the presence of foreign matter- which may be as delicate as a grain of sand – covering it over years with sequential layers of a natural substance known as nacre. The sum of these elements creates a pearl.
There are “natural pearls” and “cultured pearls”, where the foreign matter is placed in the pearl by man, inducing the process of creating the gem. Most pearls sold today are cultured in what are called “pearl farms”. Antonio Bernardo uses cultured pearls when creating his jewels.
Types of Pearls
Earl culturing is a field in constant process of investigation and innovation. From time to time, new techniques come to light and specific skills are consolidated in certain regions of the world. This provides a great variety of pearl types to enrich jewels.
Japanese and Chinese seas, for example, produce the “Akoya Pearls”, whose main traits are their round shape and sizes ranging from 2 to 9 millimeters.
In the South Seas of Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines, the valuable “South Sea Pearls” are cultured. Their size reaches up to 20 millimeters. However, when a pearl is distinguished for its black coloring, these gems are called “Tahiti Pearls”. As for the “Mabe Pearls”, also cultured in Japan and China, they are known for their predefined shapes in the inducing process, which may be oval or round.
On the other hand, “Freshwater Pearls”, produced by freshwater mussels, offer a wide range of colors and shapes. Examples are the “Biwa Pearls”, named after the Chinese lake where they come from.
Recently, faceted pearls have been seen on the market. These gems require specific characteristics, such as a thick nacre coat, lack of imperfections on its surface and the use of high technology, which bestows shine on the pearl, without damaging it.
PEARL APPRAISAL FACTORS
To guarantee design excellence when dealing with such a great variety of pearls, Antonio Bernardo requires that the gems be appraised by the following criteria:
Size: the bigger the pearl, the rarer and more valued it is.
Shape: for round pearls, superiority depends in the perfection of its surface. For other shapes, a pear shaped one, for example, high definition of its shape and symmetry increase its value.
Orient: the orient effect is a unique radiance, caused by reflection and light interference on the different nacre coats that constitute a pearl. The orient may have subtle hues of blue, green, pink and yellow. The more intense its orient, the more a pearl is worth.
Nacre thickness: for cultured pearls, the ideal thickness lies between 0,6 and 1 millimeter, a starting point from which the gem gains value.
Superficial impressions: the fewer and smaller they are, the more the pearl is worth. Color: pearls may come in white, pink, yellow, gray, bronze, green, purple and black. This is determined by the presence of certain minerals and proteins in the water where the oyster created the pearl. Color is also influenced by the tint in the nacre, water temperature and the position a pearl lays in its shell. Pure color adds value to a pearl.