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Layer Upon Layer

  • 2 min read

Layer Upon Layer

We were recently asked to loan our unique pearls to the Natural History Museum’s permanent collection. Alongside our pearls, Chrissie Douglas (our pearl expert) shared the secrets behind a pearl’s lustre.

So what gives a pearl its lustre? Lustre is caused when natural light passes through the microscopic layers of a pearls nacre – light refraction. Nacre is the material from which a pearl is composed, in other words nacre makes up a pearls surface. Nacre is calcium carbonate (the same material as our teeth), held together with aragonite, a soft protein. So next time you are tempted to check a pearls authenticity by biting it - don’t! Your teeth will damage the pearls surface, devaluing your investment.

Thinner layers of nacre generally result in better lustre. The more layers you have the greater the light refraction, which gives that ‘special glow’. Interestingly pearls are harvested in the cooler waters of winter, as nacre layers are thinner when produced in cold waters and the most recent layers of nacre on the pearl will be thin, making the pearls more lustrous. Baroque pearls are also very lustrous because whilst they are forming organic material decays and balloons between the layers of the pearls nacre, thinning the surface out and enabling more light refraction.

How do you maintain your pearls lustre? Wear them! The oils from your skin will nurture your pearls by keeping them moist. Acids will corrode a pearls nacre. These acids are found in chlorinated water, fake tan and alcohol-based perfumes (which is why we have crafted our own oil-based perfume). If your pearls look tired or dull, bring them to us. We will give your pearls a pampering bath to remove the dull layer of nacre, restoring your pearls to their original brilliance (a bit like a face peel!). Don’t worry, this process doesn’t remove the nacre altogether. Well-sourced pearls have multiple layers of nacre. For example, South Sea pearls produce two layers of nacre each tide, and we give them just under 3 years to grow before we harvest them!

So why not layer up (like your lustrous pearls) and show off your summer tan by stacking slim pendants, bracelets, long necklaces and ear jackets to add depth to your look.

Feel beautifully confident in perfectly layered pearls.


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