Honora® creates fashionable and affordable freshwater pearl jewelry using an array of shapes, colors and sizes. For more than 60 years, Honora® has created some of the finest designer jewelry and incredible pearl designs.
Pearls have always had something magic about them, and in many cultures they symbolize purity, love and virtue (though not necessarily in that order). Today they're considered to be timeless, even sentimental gifts. Giving pearls is a sweet, thoughtful gesture that will be treasured for years to come. The pearl is the birthstone for June, although pearl jewelry makes a thoughtful gift all year round. We think a classic pearl necklace is a wonderful graduation gift, and pearl earrings are the perfect way to thank bridesmaids.
How pearls happen
Pearls are born when a mollusk, usually an oyster, gets annoyed.
When a bit of sand or some other irritant lodges inside the oyster's shell, the oyster tries to protect itself by covering the offender with a beautiful, pearly substance called nacre. The oyster does this again and again until eventually, the nacre builds up enough to produce a pearl.
Unfortunately, pollution and over-fishing have made these rare accidents even rarer. So today, nearly all pearls are cultured pearls.
Pearl farmers simply insert small beads into the oysters to jump-start the natural process. The oyster gets busy coating the bead, and a cultured pearl is born. You can't tell the difference between cultured and "natural" pearls without an X-ray.
Most pearls are white or cream, often with a hint of another color ("overtone") on the surface. Other pearls are pink, gold, pale blue, bronze, gray, black, even eggplant. Almost all lighter-colored pearls are bleached to eliminate dark spots. Some are dyed to give them a rosy glow or a darker color altogether.
At Helzberg Diamonds, we carry the two most poplar types of pearls, Akoya and Freshwater. Both are white with a rose overtone, a universal combination that's flattering to all skin colors. Akoya pearls are produced by saltwater or ocean oysters, while Freshwater pearls are produced by freshwater mussels. Nearly all Freshwater pearls come from China, while Akoya pearls come primarily from Japan and China. There are also Tahitian cultured pearls, which come in a range of luminescent greys and blacks. Unlike black Akoya and Freshwater cultured pearls which are always dyed, Tahitian pearls come by their rich deep hue naturally.
Luster is the light reflected from the pearl's surface — you might call it shine. Generally, the thicker the nacre coating on the pearl the more luster it has. Akoya pearls are slightly more lustrous than Freshwater pearls.
Size, shape and surface
Pearls come in a huge range of sizes, so you know there's one — or maybe even a whole strand — that's right for you. While most pearls are spherical they also come in a variety of other shapes. This may include teardrop, button or oval shapes. Baroque pearls are irregularly shaped pearls. Since pearls are made by a mollusk, not a machine, almost all of them have tiny bumps, spots and scratches in the nacre coating. These small defects usually don't detract from the beauty of the pearl; in fact, they actually make them more unique.
When to choose what type
Generally, Akoya cultured pearls cost a bit more than Freshwater cultured pearls, and are slightly more lustrous. Tahitian cultured pearls are the rarest and most expensive of the three types of pearls. They are bigger (8mm and larger), and have a beautiful metallic luster. Freshwater cultured pearls come in a tremendous variety of sizes and shapes..
What's your style?
If your style is traditional and elegant, you can't go wrong with a classic cultured pearl necklace or pendant. For women who like a twist on the traditional, dark pearls, like Tahitian pearls, are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Of course, if you love pearls you're not limited to a simple, traditional strand. At Helzberg Diamonds, we pride ourselves on our selection of beautifully designed pearl jewelry that combines pearls with diamonds in a variety of settings — from ornate and dressy to fun and trendy. Shop our selection now to find the style that's perfect for you.
These popular pearls are farmed mostly along the coasts of China and Japan. Akoya pearls usually have a high luster, near-perfect roundness and high quality all around. White and cream are the most-requested colors, but many natural and treated colors are available, including black.
These are the most affordable pearls, and come in a huge array of shapes, sizes and natural or treated colors. While they used to be irregular in shape, today's Freshwater pearls are usually roundish in shape. They're cultivated in freshwater streams, rivers and lakes in China, Japan and the U.S.
These pearls come in more exotic colors like silver, golden green, and gray-black. Often they have a metallic luster. They tend to be larger than Akoya and Freshwater pearls.
Taking them home
Pearl jewelry needs a little bit of TLC. Pearls' surfaces can chip and they scratch rather easily, rating only a 2 1/2 to 4 on the Mohs Hardness Scale (10 is diamond-hard). Time, intense light and dryness are not their friends, and neither are solvents, household cleaners, alcohol, many cosmetics and chlorine.