Who says diamonds are the only best 'jewelry' friend to a woman? For years, pearls have been unfairly regarded as the sole preserve of maiden aunts and respectable ladies of a certain vintage. In fact, pearls are classic and glamorous. Now, they are becoming increasingly rare and are replacing diamonds as a staple of the fashion set after being championed by the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton and singer Rihanna.
Elegant pearl earrings, as worn by Kate Middleton on her recent royal tour of Australia and New Zealand, have become a wardrobe essential overnight.
Classic sets of these gems are being sold for huge sums by Bonhams, one of the world’s leading auction houses.
Bonhams’ U.S. head of jewelry, Susan Abeles, commented, “Pearls were once seen as a bit dated – perhaps the preserve of an older generation, but we’ve seen a complete change in how they are now viewed."
She added, “A younger fashion set is now completely at home wearing classic pearl earrings and you’re as likely to see them at nightclubs and premieres as you are at society events.”
In addition to the influence of celebrity pop culture, Bonhams also believes natural pearls are now hitting record prices because of their rarity. Overfishing and pollution mean the supply of new natural pearls is waning. On October 7, 2014 at Bonhams New York don't miss "A NATURAL PEARL AND DIAMOND NECKLACE" designed as three strands of 129, 122 and 118 graduated natural golden pearls, measuring from approximately 2.80 to 7.60mm., joined by a old-cut diamond floret clasp; clasp mounted in 18 karat gold; length: 18in. Estimated: $60,000-80,000.
You'll be wanting to save that set of pearls after learning how much some are worth!
• A pair of natural pearl and diamond earrings sold for £290,500(Estimate: £150,000-200,000) on April 30, 2014 at Bonhams in London
• A single natural pearl, measuring 11.5mm, mounted as a ring, sold for £30,000 (Estimate: £2,000-3,000) on April 30, 2014 at Bonhams in London
• A natural pearl and diamond necklace comprising 71 graduated round white pearls completed by an openwork single-cut diamond clasp, centering an old mine-cut diamond, which sold for $173,000 (Estimate: $30,000-50,000) on April 9, 2014 in New York
• A natural pearl and diamond necklace comprising 80 graduated round to semi-baroque natural pearls, measuring approx. 9.38 to 3.50mm., completed by a single-cut diamond and cultured pearl clasp, which sold for $93,750(Estimate $25,000-30,000) on December 9, 2013 in New York
• A belle époque natural pearl and diamond necklace by Tiffany & Co., circa 1915, comprising 99 graduated round white pearls, measuring approx. 8.63 to 3.60mm., completed by a oval-cut diamond clasp; signed Tiffany & Co., no. 888; diamond weighing approx. 0.65 carat; mounted in platinum; length: 24in., which sold for $149,000 (Estimate $20,000-30,000) on October 17, 2013 in New York
• A long, single strand of graduated natural pearls, measuring 5.5mm-8.5mm, which sold for £87,650(Estimate £35,000-55,000) on April 24, 2013 in London
• A natural pearl and diamond necklace, comprising five rows of 104, 109, 114, 118 and 123 graduated round to semi-baroque natural pearls, measuring approx. 8.70 to 1.91mm., completed by a button pearl clasp, measuring 10.2mm., set with a rose-cut diamond collet, within an old-cut diamond cluster surround, which sold for $62,500(Estimate $30,000-40,000) on April 15, 2013 in New York
So how do you maintain your pearls?
1) One is not supposed to spray perfume on natural pearls.
2) Pearls ought to be taken off when applying cosmetics and perfume as they contain chemicals that can dull the luster of a pearl.
3) Don’t keep pearls near heater or strong sunlight as they could dry out.
4) Store pearls separate from other jewelry because their soft surface can be easily scratched by other gems.
5) Pearls should not be stored in a safe or safety security box for long periods of time as the ultra-dry atmospheric conditions that extend the life of paper documents dries out the pearls which could result in crazing (i.e. to develop small fractures on the surface).
6) Pearl strands should be stored flat rather than hung to avoid premature stretching of thread (thread type: either nylon or silk).
Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams