Called the “Queen of Gems,” pearls have been around almost as long as humans. Because of the relative ease of getting them, the pearl was the first real gem that early humans used for adornment. You didn’t need to mine for them or change them in any way once you found them. They came out of the shell ready for show. Because they’re “soft” gems it was very easy for people to make jewelry from them – even with the primitive tools they had. Pearls were thought to be a perfect blend of nature. They had the shape and beauty of the moon and the colors of a rainbow. Before cultured pearls were created in the early 1900’s, natural pearls were so rare and costly that only the very rich could afford them.
Where Pearls Are Found
The word “Pearl” comes from the Latin word “pirum” which means “pear.” Natural pearls are pear-shaped and are found inside mollusk shells such as clams, oysters or mussels. The saltwater variety is found in oceans, gulfs and bays. The freshwater ones are found in rivers and lakes. Since pearls come from living creatures they aren’t considered precious stones.
Civilizations and Pearls
Eastern nations valued pearls as a sign of a maiden’s purity. Romans linked pearls with Isis and thought they would win her favor by wearing them. The Roman Emperor, Caligula, even had a pearl necklace made for his horse! The Chinese crush pearls into powder and use them as medicine. It is said that Cleopatra once crushed a large pearl from one of her earrings and put it in a cup of wine which she then drank. India’s history is filled with tales of pearls and gods.
The Cultured Pearl
Because of the high demand for pearls, by the 1800’s it soon became apparent that the supply was nearly gone. This was due to overfishing and pollution. Then something happened that changed the face of the pearl forever. A man named Kokichi Mikimoto and his wife, Ume, did what no one else had been able to do. They were able to coax oysters to produce round pearls on demand. This changed pearling from then on. Today’s pearls are very affordable and are always in fashion. From Jackie Kennedy’s chokers to Audrey Hepburn’s long pearl necklaces, pearls are at the forefront of design. They have been coupled with crystals and other gemstones at this year’s Golden Globe Awards and on the Red Carpet. They are a classic and never go out of style.
We invite you to visit our website to see our collection of pearls and other precious gems.
Natalie Ziegler is a jewelry designer known for her unique designs. Her use of precious and semi-precious stones, pearls and metals turns her designs into works of art. She was born in New York City and raised near Boston. Her road to jewelry designer was anything but straightforward, though. She got her MA in American Foreign Policy and Economics at Johns Hopkins SAIS from 1984 to 1986. She also has a BA in Psychology from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. From July 1986 until July 1994 she worked in TV news as a senior researcher at CNN in Atlanta, Georgia and Washington, DC.
In 2001 she began a company called Commonwealth Imports. Its purpose is to supply US designers and jewelers with raw materials to use in their designs. Coming into daily contact with all these various stones made Natalie realize that she wanted to do more than just import them. She also wanted to play around with the shapes and colors to see what would happen. From that desire came her own line of designer jewelry which is upscale yet affordable. The designs are both colorful and feminine. They are sure to be a favorite in your jewelry collection.
Natalie’s designs are tailored to be “classic” rather than “trendy.” They work with your wardrobe year after year without going out of style. Her signature “look” is made of semi-precious stones and pearls. She leans towards the briolette cut in a lot of her designs. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, a little background is in order.
Briolettes are drop-shaped stones that have been used in jewelry design since the early 17th century. They were very popular during the Victorian era and are popular once again.Their multi-faceted cut is what gives them their lively sparkle. They can be drilled to be used as beads or hung as a pendant from their tips.
Natalie blends her colorful stones into works of art that will last for years. If she’s making a beaded or wire-wrapped piece of jewelry she will often complete it in a few hours. On the other hand a cast piece can take months before it’s finished. Her ideas can come from a gorgeous sunset or a vase of flowers. She has an eye for bringing together different colors and textures and making it work! To see examples of Natalie’s designs please visit our website.
What sets the tone for jewelry trends? Who picks them and how do they decide what’s IN? Well, it isn’t just one thing. Jewelry trends seen at fashion shows and award shows like the Golden Globes are one indication of what’s HOT. What women are wearing on the Red Carpet gets noticed immediately and the demand grows from there. A lot of market research goes into deciding what’s Hot and what’s Not and here are the winners for 2014.
Pantone Color Institute has announced THE color for 2014 to be Radiant Orchid. This color was in evidence in the Spring 2014 runway shows of several designers. The reason this is important is because fine jewelers look to the latest color trend to know how to color-block their jewelry with the clothes.
The latest trends run the gamut from pearls to gold to colored stones. A lot of Art Deco, yellow gold and geometric styles were worn this year at the Golden Globe Awards. Amy Poehler wore an oversized yellow gold cuff bracelet reminiscent of the gladiator’s style. There were plenty of yellow gold earrings on view which were coupled with pearls, onyx and diamonds galore. Stickpins, chevrons and pyramid shapes and body jewelry will also be HOT! HOT! HOT!
And what’s the forecast for this year’s hottest trends? Let’s take a look:
Expect to see this pearl beauty in a variety of jewelry styles. A lot of blue was worn by the ladies on the red carpet this year and abalone fit right in. Its color seems to take on and complement whatever color clothing is being worn with it. This pearl dazzler has the best of both worlds – it’s exotic looking yet inexpensive.
Look for lots of orange, blue and yellow gold in jewelry this year. Since Radiant Orchid is the color to match with, orange will color-block with it and look fantastic! An orange geometric bracelet with a Radiant Orchid ensemble will make both items pop! Blue is still a strong color trend in jewelry collections. You can find many styles of jewelry that are using topaz, tanzanite and sapphires in the design with stunning results. And, of course, that perennial favorite – gold. Anything from gold chains to gold stickpins to stud earrings will have yellow gold as part of the design. And since the price of gold has dropped over 29% to date, look for more variety in designs using this wonderful metal.
Bracelets, Watches, Geometry
Because this spring’s fashions have a lot of bare arm showing, look to see lots of cuff, bangles and stacking bracelets on view. And with all the talk about the Apple smartwatch, look for a renewed interest in fine watches in general.
We invite you to visit our website and shop for that special piece by one of our many designers.