An Opinion by Caitlin Williams
I wonder why so many experts do not see the intrinsic value of cultured freshwater Pearls (CFWP). Of course, they can look like the most flagrant circus decorations, when grown in odd shapes and dyed circus colors, but they are the chameleons of jewels, they can take on any characteristics the customers want.
For instance, there is a huge desire for fashion jewelry, which is not really “costume” jewelry in the old sense, it is far more tasteful, and CFW pearls fill that slot especially well. The slightly potato-y shaped pearls in discreet natural colors and white, are often highly lustrous and are priced to wear to the office, where they look appropriate and tasteful either in strands alone, or mixed with other beads. You can quickly build a quite a collection of these at current prices.
Then of course, you have the very round ones, which begin to move into the jewelry stores as a modest alternative for cultured marine pearls. This is the pearl most sellers on this forum specialize in.
But does the general public know that CFWP can get as large as SouthSea and Tahitians? They take to peacock dyes especially well and thus look really fabulous. One can buy best quality CFWP in these sizes through some sellers on this forum and I'd advise people to get them!.
But, before that, I learned this from my favorite CFWP dyed black necklace. It is made from 12+mm commercial grade pearls I bought for $10. They are a lovely silver/blue toned color. I just strung them up, battered skins and all, and wore them around because they match my hair (silver) and eyes (blue) and thus look good with most of my wardrobe. They are in the abalone tone range (not paua) I got such a flood of love for them from people- and I have been trying to get more big, battered pearls ever since.
Now the reason I am telling you this, is many people, even some jewelers, ask if they are Tahitians almost every time I wear them. I am so HAPPY to set them straight and tell them they are FW and Solid Nacre and yada, yada.
I did not intend to deceive anyone with them, as people who might want to do if they wear zirconia, (though if people knew the truth about diamonds, the Mystique and the prices would pop and diamonds would be worth less than good zirconia -factoid courtesy of ZESPA)
I was just wearing my cheapo CFWP with my t shirts and people reacted to them like they were fine gems! I even had a lady come up to me at the ballet-someone I didn’t even know, and say, “Your pearls are absolutely beautiful- Tahitians?” I even show as many people as I can, the cracks and places where the outer layers of nacre are missing, and I get responses like, “It gives them character”, “They really look natural”. I now regard comments like these as selling points!
I have been commenting on this phenomenon to this forum, since I first got the pearls. To a roaring silence, I might add. This doesn’t seem like useful information?
Since then I have also looked at least ½ dozen cheapo ($ 250-1000) Tahitian strands that were ugly. The $1,000 one looked like goat droppings in its color, and had inclusions that looked like pieces of hay and I am not exaggerating. The one for $250 at the Gem Show was also pathetic lackluster black. The ones in between were also ugly, with tails and an obvious bead inside.
Even crappy beat-up, dented, and dyed CFWP are prettier than that!
As I pointed out in another thread: low cost in the highly subsidized Chinese CFW pearl is not an indication of its intrinsic value; it is an indication it is a good investment.
This is the necklace- I tried to correct for the green bias