Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Costume Pearls

A prized possession
Any self-respecting Western woman of a certain age is, or has always been, interested in pearls. My mother, for instance, has had a lifelong love relationship with hers. She does not own any real pearls, obviously, but rather some cultured pearls, and some good quality costume ones that she takes good care of, storing them in individual velvety sachets.
Until the last decade or so, when massive competition from Asian markets started, buying pearls (a single real one on a ring, perhaps, or a necklace of cultivated ones) was considered a true investment, and a possible heirloom for the family.

Costume pearls

What makes a good costume pearl
The best costume pearls use solid glass beads as nuclei which is, the best thing you can use to make faux pearls, as it gives the item the right weight and feeling of authenticity (as good quality faux pearls, that is). I always weigh faux pearls in my hand before deciding on a purchase. Light is bad, substantial good.
The glass beads are coated with multiple lacquer layers (much as a red lacquer or cinnabar object would be), using what is known in the trade as essence d'orient or pearlessence, a high-quality lacquer that does for faux pearls what scales do for fish: reflect different light wavelengths, and create an iridescent look.
Each manufacturer keeps the secret of their pearlessence formula zealously, obviously. Two famed brands are Majorica and Mikimoto.
Classic lengths and beyond
Pearls are very versatile, and can be worn in many different ways.
Classic lengths are:
  • Choker 16"
  • Princess 18"
  • MatinĂ©e 22-24"
  • Opera 30-32"
A way of updating your traditional lengths is mixing them with others  in different sizes and lengths.
Pearls can also be funky and edgy, especially baroque ones in unexpected colours. Think about your season palette before choosing yours and remember that, if you go with white, there is a right white for each season: bright white for Deep Winters, ivory for Deep Autumns, etc.

Follow the label Pearls.

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