Beautiful Handmade Statement Necklaces and other Fabulousness from Neena Shilvock - Inspirations and Designs From the Week Gone by
Hello lovely people, how are you today? Apologies for being a bit late with this post - I've been busy with the day job and too tired to create anything, let alone write a blog post. Grief is a strange emotion - it saps you of the will to do anything constructive or creative. However, the job I do demands concentration and care, and consequently I've found that I have given my all at work and have nothing left when I get home. Losing two important people from my world in the space of eight weeks has been a bit crushing, to say the least.
I have some time off, though - I had saved a lot of my holiday to go to India in February, but as I won't be going next year, I have redistributed my days off evenly, so that I can have some respite and me time.
Pearls, Glorious Pearls
Just about any pearl you’ll find today is a cultured pearl. Cultured pearls are an effort made by pearl farmers in order to maintain the delicate balance of nature, while still responding to the demand for pearls in the jewelry marketplace. Culturing pearls began at the very beginning of the 20th century, when several inventors discovered the techniques required in order to cultivate pearls. The most famous of these inventors is Kokichi Mikimoto, the father of Akoya pearl.
Spherical pearls with a variation of less than 2% in diameter fall into the "round" category. They roll in a straight line on a flat surface. This is the most expensive shape, provided it has an adequate coating of nacre. Pearls that are not round, but look spherical to the eye, are called off-round or near-round pearls.
Unlike round pearls, off-round pearls deviate more than slightly when rolled on a flat surface. Shapes that are obviously not round or slightly irregular are called semi-baroque. These include oval, drop, and button-shaped pearls. Pearls with one or more ring-like grooves around the body fall into this category. These circles are usually formed on off-round, semi-baroque and baroque shapes, and are more commonly seen in South Sea, Tahitian, and freshwater pearls.
Baroque pearls are completely irregular in shape, also known as freeform. They are just as affordable as the circled pearls, and often make a more interesting jewellery design than round pearls do. The majority of freshwater cultured pearls are tissue-nucleated, so most pearls are in small or large semi-baroque and baroque shapes. Some are nucleated with flat discs or large round beads to culture coin shapes and fireball.
Cultured saltwater pearls are cultivated in oysters from oceans and tropical atolls or lagoons. A perfectly round shell-bead nucleus, along with a tiny 1mm slice of donor mantle tissue from another oyster is inserted into the oyster's gonad; this is the "base" or template for the oyster to begin forming a pearl sac around and eventually begins layering crystalline nacre in concentric layers, much like an onion. The oysters are periodically brought onto land for cleaning and a health assessment. Pearl technicians take every conceivable measure to protect the oysters from disease and damage. Pearls can be harvested as early as 18 months, but the longer the pearls are left in the oyster to acquire thicker layers of nacre, the better the resulting quality. South Sea pearls, and Tahitian pearls will usually take between 2 and 3 years to form while Akoya pearls from Japan will usually take under 2 years.
This means that a large, fine Tahitian or South Sea pearl necklace can take many years to properly match for size, luster and color, which is why they are so expensive.
Chinese freshwater pearls are farmed in freshwater lakes, rivers and man-made ponds, and are grown within freshwater mussels. Freshwater pearls are begun by inserting tiny pieces of donor mantle tissue into the mussel; as many as twenty-five insertions may be made per valve, or each side of the shell. The mussel begins forming pearl sacs for each irritant, and after a period of about two years the pearls are harvested. Each mussel can produce a wide variety of natural colors ranging from lavender to pink and peach, bright silver white to deeper creamy/ivory shades.
Clean, balanced environmental conditions are essential to the health of the molluscs and the resulting beauty of the pearls, which means that pearliculture is extremely environmentally friendly.
And the best part - it is relatively easy to produce a specific pearl shape, color and size on demand and wild oyster populations, once over-fished to near extinction around the world have been given a long-deserved rest from pearl hunters and are once again allowed to flourish and regain their once plentiful numbers. A win - win situation!
This one is a beaut - I've hoarded the amethyst druzy chunks for over 3 years, periodically bringing them out to marvel at their beauty. I always knew they would go into a necklace with pearls, but it's only when I received the baroque pearls in the post that I decided that their time had come to be made up.
Three different shapes and sizes of pearl go into this piece as well as the beautiful amethyst beads and tiny faceted silvery haematite. This is a very modern take on a classic combination and will look great in both summer and winter, over a pullover as the necklace is 26" long.
Thank you all for chatting with me today. I hope to be back at the end of the week you wish you all a Merry Christmas.
That's me for today folks. See you soon on these pages
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