Black Tahitian Pearls

Are all Tahitian pearls black? What’s the difference between a cultured pearl and a natural pearl? Are freshwater pearls inferior to saltwater pearls? Are South Sea pearls really golden?

Good questions. With all the different pearl colors and types out there, it can be difficult to know just what you’re looking at. For those interested in buying pearls, or for gem enthusiasts who wish to learn more, here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about pearls.

Are All Tahitian Pearls Black?

Not only are Tahitian cultured pearls not exclusively black, they’re also not grown in Tahiti. Called “black” because of their exotic dark colors, Tahitian cultured pearls can also be gray, blue, green and brown. And they’re grown in the lagoons of small islands that are part of a group known as French Polynesia. Tahiti, the largest island, serves as the group’s center of commerce, and not as a pearl growing mecca. Tahitian pearls are cultivated for about two years in Pinctada margaritifera cumingi, a large mollusk native to French Polynesia. One of the ways this unique oyster differs from other species is its interior shell color, which is dark. This so-called “black lipped” oyster also has black mantle edges—the “lips” that give this animal its descriptive name.

Today, the most sought-after Tahitian cultured pearls are dark green-gray to blue gray with rosé or purple overtones. Pearl colors are determined by several factors, including variations in the host oyster, color variation of the implanted donor mussel tissue, the number and thickness of nacre layers, and variations in growing environment such as temperature and water quality. Tahitians are most often variations of gray, black, green and blue, but other colors exist.

At an average size of 8mm-14mm, Tahitian cultured pearls—especially those specimens that are gem-quality and round—are very expensive. According to the latest information from the Gemological Institute of America, up to 40 percent of implanted black-lipped oysters produce a gem-quality cultured pearl, but only about 5 percent of the pearls they produce are round. And only 1-2 percent of the entire crop will result in round cultured pearls of the finest quality. No wonder a Tahitian pearl strand is so costly! If you want to wear Tahitian cultured pearls, one way to do so without breaking the bank is to choose a pendant-style necklace with a single pearl, pearl stud earrings, a single pearl ring, or baroque (non-symmetrical) pearls. These designs are every bit as exotic and a lot more affordable than a matched strand.

What’s the difference between a cultured pearl and a natural pearl? Natural pearls are formed when an irritant, such as a parasite, makes its way into a pearl-producing animal such as an oyster or mollusk. To protect itself, the animal coats the irritant in nacre—a combination of organic substances that also makes up what we call mother-of pearl. Over time, the layers of nacre build up around the intruder and eventually form the organic gem we all know as the pearl. Cultured pearls are formed in the same way as natural pearls, with one big difference: they get their start not by chance, but deliberately, when man intervenes with nature. To produce cultured pearls, a skilled technician, called a nucleator, induces the pearl-growing process by surgically placing an irritant—a mother-of-pearl bead and a piece of mantle tissue, usually—into a mollusk. The animal is then placed back into the water and monitored, cleaned, etc. until the pearl is ready to be harvested.

The Chinese have been culturing freshwater blister pearls (pearls that grow underneath the mantle on the inside of the animal’s shell) since the 13th century, but Kokichi Mikimoto, a Japanese man, is credited with developing modern pearl culturing techniques. By the early 1920s, Mikimoto was selling his cultured pearls worldwide. Natural pearls can be very beautiful, but due to overfishing, pollution and other factors, they are a rare find indeed. Thus, nearly all pearls sold today are cultured pearls. There are two main types: freshwater and saltwater. South Sea cultured pearls, Tahitian cultured pearls and akoya cultured pearls are all types of saltwater pearls. Cultured pearls of all types can be found in jewelry stores worldwide.

Are saltwater pearls better than freshwater pearls?

It depends on who you ask, but many pearl experts today agree that freshwater cultured pearls can rival the beauty of their saltwater cousins. Due to improvements in culturing techniques, freshwater pearl farmers are producing beautiful, round, lustrous pearls that are a vast improvement over the wrinkled, rice-krispie-shaped gems that typified the freshwater pearl crop of the not-so-distant past.

Produced mainly in China, freshwater pearls are often nucleated, or implanted, with mantle tissue only (rather than a mother-of-pearl bead). Because they do not contain a starter bead, tissue-nucleated freshwater pearls are 100% nacre. This gives them a beautiful luster and a durable surface that won’t easily flake or peel to reveal the inner bead. By contrast, pearls that are bead-nucleated and harvested too soon often have only a thin coating of nacre that will flake or peel. This is a major problem: Unlike many other gemstones, pearls cannot be polished back to perfection.

Freshwater cultured pearls come in many beautiful natural pastel colors including cream, white, yellow, orange, pink and lavender. (Universally flattering lavender pearls are very popular right now.) White pearls are bleached to enhance their natural shine. Black freshwater cultured pearls are treated with dye or heat to produce their inky color. Overall, freshwater pearls are more plentiful than other pearl types, thus they are generally more affordable.

Are South Sea pearls really golden?

Yes. Pearls produced in the aptly named “gold-lipped” oyster (P. maxima) can be a gorgeous creamy yellow, referred to as “golden” in the trade. (The silver-lipped variety of P. maxima produces beautiful silver or white pearls.) Grown in the South Seas—which stretch from the southern coast of Southeast Asia to the northern coast of Australia—these pearls are grown in one of the biggest oysters used in pearl culturing. Because they can accept a larger bead and secrete nacre faster than their smaller counterparts, these big oysters produce large pearls of exceptional luster and beauty.

South Sea pearls’ thick coating of nacre gives the gems a wonderful luster, or glow, that appears to come from deep within the pearl. The warm waters, abundant food supply and low pollution levels of the South Seas also help these oysters produce beautiful cultured pearls.

Although Australia produces 60% of the world’s South Sea cultured pearls, Indonesian farmers work more with the gold-lipped oyster, and thus produce more golden pearls. The silver-lipped variety produces equally beautiful pearls that come in white to silver and often have rosé, blue or green overtones. Aside from giving them a light wash, pearl farmers do not treat South Sea pearls after harvest.

The Mystery Of The Opal

The Mystery Of The Opal

There is no other stone that has the mystery of the opal. With its fiery colors and magnificent spectrum of color it draws you in and you are helpless to look away.

Every opal is different. There are no two stones the same. And every stone reflects the light differently depending on its depth and personal characteristics. This stone eludes a mystical aura without even trying.

Opals are extremely popular for jewelry and it’s not hard to figure out why with that beautiful array of color. Soft and feminine yet fierce and bold.

Opal has the honors of being October’s birthstone. Back to ancient times it has been associated with magical qualities. It was believed to bring both good and bad luck. Some cultures used opals in white magic and believed they brought good fortune. Other cultures considered them a third eye that would allow you to tell the future.

Opals are a semi precious stone but a black opal can cost as much as a diamond. The amount of fire in the opal and where it comes from will determine the price. Pale opals can be purchased quite cheaply but the more fiery or red the more expensive the opal becomes.

Opal jewelry comes in a variety of style and is set in both gold and sterling silver. Sometimes you’ll see triplet or stacked opals, other times they are set solitaire. They also come in a variety of different cuts.

There are several types of opals:

The fire opal is probably the most popular. It is translucent with fiery orange and red flecks. The colors are vivid and intoxicating. This opal is sometimes called the Mexican opal or the Cherry opal.

The white opal is an opaque milky white with light flashes of rainbow colors.

The boulder opal is a natural solid opal with a fine layer of opal deposited on an iron base.

The water or jelly opal is colorless and transparent and has no color play.

The crystal opal is also transparent, but displays a rainbow of color. It is so transparent you can see through it on a light surface.

The Mosaic opal is just what it says. Small irregular pieces of opal tightly fit together. It’s a great way to use chips and is very affordable.

The opal doublet is made of sliced layers of natural opal that is too thin to be used in a single set. It is bonded and set on black glass or ironstone which enhances its color. The doublet opal is much cheaper because you are buying less true opal.

Synthetic opals are created in a lab and although they basically have the same properties as a natural opal by law the jeweler must tell you if it is a synthetic stone.

Contrary to what you hear opals are no more difficult to take care of then other stones. You should not knock or bang them and you should keep them out of direct sunlight or heat.

One thing you need to know is that opals cannot be cleaned in commercial jewelry cleaner or any other harsh chemical solution. Rather use a soft brush and water with a dab of vinegar, then rinse thoroughly.

Water will not hurt your opal unless it is a doublet or triplet then you should not immerse in water. Solid stones are fine. See that’s not so difficult.

So the next time an opal draws you in and wants to go home with you why not add this beautiful mysterious stone to your jewelry collection. Only then will you experience the mystery of the opal.

All About Cameos

There is something about a cameo that it truly captivating. Be it the attention to fine detail, the elegance of the portraits, there is simply nothing quite as beautiful as a cameo, and they never go out of style. Cameos can be made from variety of materials, such as abalone, wood, bone, coral, ivory, agate, glass, plastic, various shell types, and layered hard stone which comes in a variety of colors.

Molded cameos are usually made of glass. They usually consist of either one or two colors. Often the colors are swirled together. Glass cameos are usually quite shiny. Molded cameos are also molded from plastic. The wedgwood style cameos were made from plastic. Plastic makes a terrific imitation shell cameo. Older cameos were often made with celluloid using two colors. Occasionally, but not very often, natural materials are molded. One way to tell if a cameo is molded is to look for a roundness in the detail and a lack of sharp and precise lines. To identify glass cameos look for the presence of mold marks and ridges or dimples on the back.

Shell cameos are carved from a single piece of shell. Shell is soft, so it is very easy to carve. Shell cameos are usually two colors. Shell cameos have a thin concave back, with the exception of abalone and mother of pearl which are usually flat on the back and somewhat thicker. Coral Cameos are usually a single color, and also have a flat back.

Agate cameos are carved with the same technique that shell cameos are carved. Agate has one main advantage, because the carver is able to see the layers of color from the side and knows that these layers will basically be flat. Stone is much harder to carve. A good hard stone cameo is often under carved at the junction where the portrait meets the flat plaque. At a quick glance stone often looks like an applied cameo, however upon closer examination one can determine it to be stone.

Amber Cameos are rather new to the market place. Amber cameos are carved from natural amber with the reverse intaglios being hand carved.
Practice will make it easier to tell molded cameos from carved cameos: Usually natural materials are carved, while glass and plastic materials are normally molded but could be carved though not very likely. Molded cameos can be two colors by the simple device of pouring one color into the mold in a thin layer and then following with a thicker layer of another color.

If you are buying for value distinguishing the type of cameo could be very important. However, if you are buying because you simply “love” the piece, then determining the type of cameo and the value are not nearly as important. We suggest if you are purchasing a cameo because you want to add it to your jewelry wardrobe then choose what your heart falls for, just be certain you are not overpaying for what you are getting.

Cameos make a wonderful fashion statement! And they never go out of style.

Recipes For Dry Skin Care Using Herbs And Essentials Oils

Dry skin is generally due to less oil and moisture produced by sebaceous glands. Simple dry skin results from lack of natural oils affecting mostly women under age of 35 years, while complex dry skin lacks both oil and moisture and is distinguished by fine lines, enlarged pores and sagging skin that happens with aging. Alternatively, dry skin could be results from genetic condition, poor diet especially deficiencies of vitamin A and the B vitamins, exposure to environmental factors such sun, wind, or aggressive usage of chemicals, cosmetics and excessive bathing with harsh soaps.

To name a few essential oils for dry skin are Chamomile, Geranium, Hyssop, Lavender, Patchouli, Rose, Sandalwood and Ylang-Ylang.

– Aloe Vera gel applied topically helps to remove dead skin cells and is soothing, healing and moisturizing.

– Calendula & comfrey with its skin softening properties are used in facial sauna.

– 4 – 5 drops of lavender oil to bath water followed by application of diluted evening primrose oil or Aloe Vera cream moistens the dry skin.

– Evening primrose oil contains essential fatty acid to strengthen skin cells and boost their moisture content.

– Drink tea brewed with chamomile, dandelion or peppermint. Teas of Borage, fennel, coltsfoot or calendula help improve the skin. Add 1 tsp of either herb to 1 cup of boiling water and drink daily.

– Tea tree oil with its skin penetrating properties helps to moisturize and smooth the skin.

Treat yourself with these recipes using herbs and essential oils –

Dry skin mask – Obtain a smooth paste by mixing 6 ounce of unflavored yoghurt, few finely crushed almonds, 2 tsp honey and wheat germ oil each. Apply and massage of your skin for 20 minutes. Wash off with cold water. Crushed almonds exfoliate and eliminate dead skin, honey aids in adhering mask to skin and vitamin E in wheat germ oil fights radicals.

Home made balm for dry, chapped lips – Heat ½ cup almond or grape seed oil. Add 2 tsp of melted beeswax, ½ tsp alkanet root. Strain the oil removing the root. Add 8-10 drops of natural flavoring oil and 3 drops of vitamin E oil.

If you hands are moisture dry or chapped, massage them with sandalwood, rose or chamomile essential oils mixed with hydrating base oil like hazelnut, avocado or evening primrose.

For energizing natural hand moisturizer, mix wheat germ oil with your favorite essential oil.

Before bath, apply a mixture of 1 egg yolk, 1 tsp orange juice, 1 tsp olive oil, few drops of rose water and lime juice on your skin. This is a good morning skin cleanser. 1 egg, 1 tsp honey, ½ tsp olive oil and few drops of rose water makes a good beauty mask for dry skin.

Try Herbal facial sauna once a week. Use chamomile, lavender, and peppermint herbs. Simmer 2 – 4 tsp of dried or fresh herbs in 2 quarts of water. After few minutes of steaming, place the pot at comfortable distance from your face on a table. Bend over the pot with towel covering your face and the pot to trap the steam. After 15 minutes, splash cold water and air dry your skin followed by application of moisturizer or facial oil. You can cool the herbal water and use it as toning lotion to be dabbed on your face after cleansing.

Real Beauty Fitness

Fitness and beauty can be one and the same. Being fit and healthy will automatically make you look better.

Fitness and beauty can be one and the same. Being fit and healthy will automatically make you look better. A healthy inside creates a healthy outside. Fitness through exercise can help you to maintain a healthy body weight and improve muscle tone.

Our looks reflect the sum total of who we are and how we live, and the best we can do in life is to make the best of what nature has given is, without excuse, apology, or pretense.

If we try to live otherwise, we find ourselves acting on a stage with other actors and actresses–great pretenders without real friends, without real lovers, without real relationships. While we realize that there is such a thing as “natural beauty,” which is beyond all standards of culture and history in some sense, there are also “relative” standards of beauty.

We all know about fads, styles, and adornments that are “in” one season and “out” the next. This includes cosmetics, hair styles, clothing, and even body weight and size.

These standards may vary from country to country, year to year, or even
among different age groups in the same country and year. For example,
full figures are considered the ideal in some historical periods, but slender figures are valued now–at least in Western countries.

The point is that cultural standards change–and we may choose to follow or ignore them–because the cultivation of natural beauty is not dependent upon fads.

In order to get along harmoniously, whether at the level of dating,
courtship, or marriage, men and women have to get past physical looks
and into the more important qualities that make up human relationships,
such as kindness, friendship, and areas of mutual interest.

There is such a thing as a beautiful personality. There can be beauty
in the way a person thinks. An attitude or smile can be beautiful. Love is certainly beautiful, and all of life is beautiful when we are in love.

A person is truly beautiful when he or she is healthy. Any disease or illness affects all parts of the body, sometimes for many years before the symptoms are manifested. If the body and mind are not healthy, then a person cannot feel or be truly attractive.

Good health brings a glow to the skin, a ring to the voice, a twinkle
to the eye, and a spring to the step that no beauty school can teach.