1962 photographs of John F. Kennedy, Jr. playing with Jackie O's necklace at the White House. Sold for $190 000 at Sotheby's auction of the estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, April 25, 1996 in New York. 1962 photographs of John F. Kennedy, Jr. playing with Jackie O's necklace at the White House. Sold for $190 000 at Sotheby's auction of the estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, April 25, 1996 in New York.

Whether natural or cultured, pearls remain at the heart of jewellery design. Coco Chanel, Jackie O and Elizabeth Taylor: images of women with the most enviable style are conjured up in the mind when you imagine ropes of pearls elegantly draped over an outfit.

Pair of pearl and white gold earrings Sold for £105 Pair of pearl and white gold earrings
Sold for £105

Natural pearls are a wonder. They are formed delicately without any human intervention. When a parasite comes into contact with a clam, mussel or oyster, the defensive reaction of the mollusc is to create a fluid to coat the infected area. This coating, called a nacre, is built up over layers and from this a pearl is created.

Looking at a pearl, you can see the iridescent layers that have built up from this process. These layers give the pearl a wonderful texture and contoured shape.

Pair of diamond earrings and pearls Sold for £175 Pair of diamond earrings and pearls
Sold for £175

 

Yellow gold and cultured pearl ringSold for £130 Yellow gold and cultured pearl ring
Sold for £130

Cultured pearls are created by placing a parasite inside an oyster in the same way as what happens naturally in the sea. The mollusc forms the nacre layers in an act of defence which deposits a pearl.

Gold earrings and Tahitian pearlsSold for £175 Gold earrings and Tahitian pearls
Sold for £175

Yellow gold and cultured pearl ringSold for £135 Yellow gold and cultured pearl ring
Sold for £135

Used in jewellery since antiquity times, pearls are timeless. Whether white, pink, grey or even gold, they combine elegance, tradition and perfection.

Yellow gold pendant and pearlsSold for £210 Yellow gold pendant and pearls
Sold for £210

Gold ring, diamonds and cultured pearlSold for £350 Gold ring, diamonds and cultured pearl
Sold for £350

Necklace of three rows of cultured pearlsSold for £105 Necklace of three rows of cultured pearls
Sold for £105

Pearls are a wonderful piece to buy on the secondary market as for centuries master craftsmen from history through to Art Nouveau to Art Deco have turned to pearls for inspiration.

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