Tiger's Eye and Pearl Beads
This month is
tiger eye beads and June's
birthstone pearls. Scroll down, or click one of the links below.
Thanks to all those who visited us in the UK, our bead shows there were a great success! You may still have a chance to see our last spring fair at Lakeland, Penrith on 29th May - for details click here. Only £1 to enter - ideal for those from Scotland too. Ask Nigel for your free gift!
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Tiger's Eye Beads
The Secrets of Pearls
What are Cultured Pearls?
What is Mother-of-Pearl?
Knotting a Pearl Neckace
How to Tell Real from Fake Pearls
Special 15% Discount Coupon
To see our Tiger Eye Beads
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The Secrets of Pearls
Pearls Sell! If you want to make quality, impressive jewelry that everyone appreciates, then go for pearls.
What are Cultured Pearls?
The least expensive cultured pearls today rival the most expensive natural pearls ever found. Cultured freshwater pearls occur in mussels for the same reason saltwater pearls occur in oysters. Foreign material inside a mussel can't be expelled. To reduce irritation, the mollusk coats the intruder with the same secretion it uses for shell-building, nacre. To cultivate a pearl, farmers slit the mussel and insert small pieces of live tissue from another mussel.
The ancient Chinese practiced this technique, but the first real cultured freshwater pearls originated from Japan in the 1930's. Japanese farmers by Lake Biwa achieved natural colors previously unseen in saltwater pearls. However, water pollution today has virtually destroyed pearl production there. China now has the resources that Japan lacks: many large lakes, rivers, and a low-cost work force.
China has now revolutionized pearling - shapes, luster, and colors of Chinese pearls now surpass Biwa quality. Copying the Japanese to improve off-white and mottling, China uses a mild bleach, bright lights, and heat. Natural freshwater pearls are usually odd shapes. So for more roundness, they reshape rejected pearls into spheres, and then nucleate mussels with them.
Freshwater pearls are popular for their colors: white, silvery-white, pink, red, copper, brown, lavender, purple, green, blue, and yellow. The most desirable are the pastel pinks, roses, lavenders, and purples. Natural color comes from the mussel species and water quality Ė with pearls taking the color of the shell in which they form. However, permanent dyes are used today for most saturated colors.
The Best Pearls
Good pearls have thick overlapping layers of nacre. This can be tested by viewing its "luster". Roll the pearl with a pen in good light - the best pearls will reflect the pen the most. A large pearl is only more valuable if it's the same quality as a smaller one - the rounder the better. Being an organic gem, grooves, pits, or dents are expected. top of page
What is Mother-of-Pearl?
The shining, playful, reflected light of mother-of-pearl has attracted attention since ancient times. From then, different technology has turned mother-of-pearl into many uses, apart from jewelry. Today, itís dyed every color under the sun - creating attractive jewelry at affordable prices.
The mollusk forms mother-of-pearl as a protective shell. Like the pearl itís a secretion of the mantle, composed of alternate layers of calcium carbonate and conchiolin. Among the chief sources are pearl oysters from the tropical seas.
Matching pearls isnít easy, but is important when planning jewelry. Itís an art in itself, requiring a sharp eye, excellent judgment, and experience. Try to buy all the pearls for a project at the same time, as later batches may not match your original purchase. When balancing pearls for jewelry, you need to consider:
∑ How the pearls blend together in color, shape, luster, size and surface perfection.
∑ How centered the drill holes.
∑ How smooth the size increase is of pearls in graduated strands.
a necklace is part of a set, all of its pearls on earrings, bracelets or
whatever, must match. However, donít put too much attention perfectly matching
against other factors.
Knotting a Pearl Necklace
If you look closely, youíll see tiny knots in between each pearl on a good necklace. This prevents the pearls rubbing against each other - and if the necklace breaks, beads wonít go flying. Knotting also makes the necklace drape nicely and adds length so you need less pearls.
Pearls should be restrung every few years, depending on the amount of wear and exposure to hair spray, perfume, body oils, lotions, moisture, and perspiration they receive. These elements can weaken the silk and cause a potential break point for the strand.
There are a few ways to knot a beaded necklace, but Iíll
only tell you the easiest for beginners. First, youíll need to choose a type of
cord to use. There are two types that are usually used for knotting: silk and
nylon. Silk is traditional, however many complain that it snags and frays. Nylon
cord can also be used. Both come in a variety of colors. They can be purchased
on small cards with about 6 feet of cord and a needle attached or, for the
serious knotter, larger spools can be purchased with separate needles.
They also come in different sizes. The thicker cord is used for the larger beads since the holes in the beads are larger. For the beginnerís technique, two strands are put through each bead, so a thinner size is needed. For 6mm beads, use size 2 for this technique, and try to match the color of the cord with the color of the beads.
A very-popular way to start any beaded necklace is with bead tips (clamp shells). The only difference here is that two strands of the cord are inserted through the bead tip instead of one. Once the necklace is started, string on a bead, and make an over hand knot. Make the knot tight so itís snug up against the bead. Continue to do this: string a bead, make an over hand knot, string a bead, make an over hand knot. Thatís it. Finish the necklace as you would any beaded necklace whether itís knotted or not. This beginnerís way is a lot easier than using one strand of cord, and the results look almost the same.
How to Tell Real from Fake Pearls top of page
You can identify fake pearls by what theyíre called: simulated, faux, glass, plastic, resin, artificial, manmade. Genuine pearls will be called natural, cultured, freshwater, or sea.
Real pearls may come from either freshwater or saltwater, and itís very difficult to tell which - both form in a variety of molluscs (not just oysters). However, all grow the same way in baroque shapes as well as round. There are also shell pearls and genuine pearls which have been artificially coated or dyed. Before you deal in pearls, you need to know if theyíre natural or not.
If you want to buy expensive pearls that are perfectly matched, a gemologist certificate (from one of your choice) is essential. It costs about $150 to have pearls tested, as opposed to several-thousands for the type that warrant the test. An x-ray will show variations in density the inside of the pearl, a parasite that might have caused the formation of a natural pearl, and the characteristic shapes of drill holes.
The tooth test
Rub the surface of the pearl over your teeth - a real pearl feels gritty, while a faux pearl feels smooth. Real pearls are made up of layers of nacre that are deposited like sand on a beach. The slight waves in the nacre give a bumpy feeling against the teeth. However, if the pearls are dyed, the dye can fill in natural depressions.
at the pearls in bright light. Unless theyíre very expensive, genuine pearls
won't look perfectly matched. There
will be slight variations in shape, size and color - along with grooves in their
nacre, bumps, ridges, or pits. Otherwise,
or if any are a perfect sphere or have a grainy smoothness: theyíre suspect.
Cutting a pearl open will reveal its true nature. Natural pearls are comprised of many layers of nacre. Cultured pearls have a mother-of-pearl shell core covered with a thin layer of nacre. Fake pearls have a core with one or more layers of coating which tends to flake away on cutting.
Examine drill holes to see the nacre layers and what lies beneath. Real pearls are usually drilled from both sides to meet in the middle - making the hole appear wider at the outside edge of the pearl. Holes of fake pearls are usually strait and are more likely to be larger all the way through. The nacre of fake pearls near the drill holes, flakes away easier than on a natural pearls. And cheap real pearls may not be drilled straight, making a necklace hang badly, unless itís knotted.
Sometimes fakes are made to look irregular, and glass pearls often have flattened ends. Genuine pearls warm to the skin faster than glass pearls - while plastic pearls tend to feel warm right away. And real pearls are usually heavier for their size than any fakes.
Other signs are in the pearlís surroundings. A genuine pearl necklace is more likely to be knotted and set in gold, silver, or platinum. You can examine clasps for stamps in the metal or for magnetism (indicating iron as opposed to a precious metal). The clasp should have a safety mechanism, like a fish hook. No one would use insecure clasps on good pearls.
Faux pearls, although manmade, are not necessarily a cheap substitute to the real thing. They have genuine beauty of their own, looking ďalmostĒ the same as natural pearls costing thousands of dollars. Theyíre created by coating the outside of glass or plastic beads with essence díorient or pearl powder. This is then dipped into various solutions of pearl film to simulate the luster of a natural pearl.
Pearl folk lore
There are an almost infinite number of myths and folk lore associated with pearls. Many pearl web sites included their own version of pearl myths. Here are a few that I found:
ē Pearls have the powers of love, money, protection, and luck.
ē Pearls were dedicated by the Romans to Isis and they
were worn to obtain her favor.
ē In early Chinese myths, pearls fell from the sky when dragons fought among the clouds.
Special care is needed for pearls. Since they are naturally porous, itís important to make sure they do not absorb cologne, hair spray, lotions, or make up. Although oils from your skin help keep the pearls from drying out. Pearl jewelry is often purchased in a silk or felt pouch. You should keep the pearls in this to prevent scratches. To clean pearls, donít use any jewelry cleaners Ė wipe gently with a damp cloth.
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To see all our pearls click either
This newsletter was taken from the book How to Make a Killing Selling Bead Jewelry. To buy at a 33% discount to listed price click: US Version or UK Version
Special 15% Discount Coupon
For 15% off anything in our bead stores, key code "tigereye" (without commas) in the box at checkout, and click "Redeem Coupon". Act NOW as offer only valid until Thursday 2nd June 2011. Only for use in our main bead stores at the below links, NOT for eBay or our MarketWorks store.
To see all our beads at MrBead click http://www.mrbead.com or http://www.mrbead.co.uk
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