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February 26, 2021 3 min read

Where to Buy Real Pearl Jewelry?

Considered the world's oldest gem, pearls have been cherished since long before written history.

We know that pearls were worn as a form of jewelry as early as 420 BC, thanks to pearl fragments that were found in the sarcophagus of a Persian princess. And, as early as 2300 BC, pearls were presented as gifts to royalty in China, and considered a status symbol in Ancient Rome.  

Pearls were also of great significance in Arab cultures, where legend stated that pearls were formed from dewdrops that were swallowed by oysters when they fell into the sea. Before cultured pearls were created, the Persian Gulf was the center of the pearl trade due to the abundance of natural oyster beds. It was a source of wealth in the region long before the discovery of oil.

Through the ages, pearls have been synonymous with luxury, beauty and prestige. Nowadays, jewelry houses, such as ours, are able to offer stunning pearl jewelry at an attainable price point and in a wide variety of styles.

Pearls have been at the forefront of our designs since our inception and for good reason. If you have been wondering where to purchase real pearl jewelry, you have come to the right place!

What Is A Real Pearl?

Natural and cultured pearls are considered "real pearls". But, what's the difference between the two?

Natural pearls are formed when a mollusk produces layers of nacre (pronounced NAY-kur) around some type of irritant, often another organism, inside its shell. Cultured pearls are created when a human places a mother-of-pearl bead or a piece of tissue into the mollusk. 

You might be wondering if cultured pearls are as good as natural pearls? Yes! Cultured pearls have the exact same properties as those formed naturally, the only difference is that they had a helping hand at getting the natural process started. If someone didn't tell you the difference, you would likely never know!

Freshwater & Saltwater Pearls

Both natural and cultured pearls can occur in freshwater and saltwater.

Freshwater pearls are grown in lakes, rivers, and ponds. Freshwater pearls are much more abundant, making them a go-to for fashion houses. At Carolily, we use a mixture of natural and cultured freshwater pearls.

Saltwater pearls are much more rare, making them significantly more expensive than their freshwater cousins. Saltwater pearls include the Akoya pearls, as well as Tahitian pearls, which originate from Tahiti and other islands in French Polynesia. 

A common misconception is that real pearls are only ever white. In fact, pearls can range from traditional white through a beautiful pastel spectrum. 

Salt and freshwater pearls can also range in size, typically measuring between 1mm and 15mm. Gone are the days that pearls are reserved for royalty. Jewelry designers now have the flexibility of creating classic white strands or bright, colourful statement pieces; there is something for everyone! 

Alternative To Real Pearls

While not considered "real" pearls, European crystal pearls can be just as stunning! 

Deemed the highest quality imitation pearl available, European crystal pearls use a European crystal at the center. Other imitation pearls use a plastic or glass bead for the center and are a significantly lesser quality.

European crystal pearls are durable, can be less expensive than freshwater pearls and come in a wider array of colours. You will notice that many pieces of our jewelry use both freshwater and European crystal pearls. 

Which Pearls Are Better?

Freshwater, saltwater and European crystal pearls all have their place within the jewelry industry. The type of pearl you choose depends on your personal preferences, budget, style and willingness to take care of your jewelry. 

If you love the tradition of real pearls, don't mind spending a little extra money to have them, and understand you have to take care of your jewelry, then freshwater pearls may be right for you.

If you care more about the style of jewelry, are less concerned with the type of pearl, would prefer to spend a little less money and can't guarantee you will baby your jewelry, we suggest trying European crystal pearls.

At the end of the day, there is no wrong answer! You may find yourself reaching for jewelry that uses more than one type of pearl, like what you find at Carolily. The different shapes, colours and textures bring a beautiful depth to our jewelry that we believe is unmatched. 

Where To Buy Pearl Jewelry Online?

If you are looking to purchase pearl jewelry online, look no further! 

To us, wearing pearls is an embodiment of our confidence, sensuality and love for ourselves. When you slip on a statement necklace handcrafted from the most lustrous pearls you've ever seen, you can't help but feel fabulous. 

You can shop our statement necklaces, bracelets and earrings online, or email us about creating a custom piece. We have helped many of our customers turn their vintage strand of pearls into an up-to-date necklace that they feel excited to wear!


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