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When choosing pearls it is useful to learn how pearls are formed, about the different types of pearls available, and how to select good quality pearls.

A pearl is formed when a small object or irritant becomes embedded in the tissue of an oyster or mollusc. The mollusc secretes nacre, a combination of crystalline and organic substances, around this irritant to protect itself. As the nacre builds up in layers, it eventually forms a pearl, with the irritant as the centre. Natural pearls are those formed in this way by chance – they are therefore fairly rare. Cultured pearls are made by deliberately inserting a foreign object into the tissue of an oyster or mollusc. In this way, pearl farmers can induce the creation of a pearl and have control over the way the pearl grows.

In selecting pearls, quality is of the utmost concern. Fine, well-strung and perfectly matched pearls with thick nacre layers will maintain their luminescence, durability and lustre for years. Cultured pearls of high quality are increasingly rare today. It is therefore important that you deal with a jeweller you trust. Unlike diamonds, cultured pearls are not evaluated by an industry-wide grading system. However, some merchants have developed their own grading scales for comparative purposes. Because we believe quality is so crucial in a cultured pearl, goes to great lengths to ensure that all cultured pearls found on our website are carefully chosen for their quality, shape, size and lustre.

Cultured ‘seawater’ pearls (although they are hardly ever referred to as such) also remain more expensive than freshwater pearls because the movement of seawater and the living organisms it contains makes culturing them over several years more difficult than in freshwater.

David Ungar trading as
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