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Everything you need to know in Choosing White Pearl Necklaces

White pearl necklaces are always a beautiful, classic gift and will fit right in with any occasion, whether it’s a wedding, a birthday, anniversary or just about any day that calls for giving. White pearls have an elegance and quiet beauty that is appreciated by any woman of any age. When cared for properly, they can last for years and years, which is no wonder that in any heirloom, pearls are one of those which stand out.

Traditionally, white pearls were given during weddings. It was believed that a gift of pearls ensured the happiness of married couples. Nowadays, white pearls are worn anywhere – in board rooms, parties, family get-togethers, bars – in just about any special occasion that calls for dressing up without dressing too much.

Natural vs. Cultured
Natural pearls, as their name implies, are produced naturally by oysters or mollusks. They start off as irritants (a grain of sand, piece of food or a parasite) that enter the shell of a living oyster. As a reaction to this invasion, the oyster produces nacre to contain the irritant. This coating is put over it in multiple layers until the irritant is completely covered and a shining pearl is born.

Since natural pearls are made ‘accidentally’ and therefore quite difficult to come by, cultured pearls were developed to meet the growing demand for pearls and to protect pearl oysters from over-harvest and extinction. Cultured pearls are also real pearls, except that instead of waiting for an irritant to invade an oyster, pearl farmers introduce a ‘nucleus’ to stimulate the production of a pearl.

Choosing the right length
White pearl necklaces come in varying lengths for different styles and occasions. When buying one, it’s worth remembering that a white pearl necklace is an accessory and can enhance or affect the entire look of the wearer.

Longer strands are used to make short necks appear longer, while shorter strands flatter longer necks. The most common lengths that white pearl necklaces come in are: the collar, choker, princess, matinee, opera and rope.

Collar pearls are the shortest at 14 to 16 inches long and may be worn with formal or semi-formal evening wear or semi-formal day wear. Chokers are 16 to 18 inches long and are the common choice for dances and balls. Princess necklaces are the most popular length at 18 to 20 inches long and look great on any outfit.

Matinee pearl necklaces are 20 to 24 inches long and can be worn for work because it goes well with work and business suits. Opera pearls are 28 to 34 inches long are often worn during formal parties.

Rope pearls are the longest, starting at 37 inches, although they don’t necessarily need to be worn just hanging from the neck. Like opera pearls, rope pearls may be knotted or doubled and may even be worn as a wide pearl bracelet.

Choosing the right style
Pearls are quite adaptable and will work well with almost any kind of gemstone. Alone or in combination with another gem, white pearls look stunning. White pearl necklaces come in several major styles: the bib, dog collar, graduated and uniform.

The bib is made of several strands, usually three or more, that varies in length and fall over the chest like, well, a bib. The pearls on the strands may either be graduated or uniformly-sized.

The dog collar, like its name, is made of several strands and is worn to fit above the base of the neck, right in the middle of the throat. The pearls that make up the strands are uniform in size and may either be small or medium-sized.

The graduated necklace is made up of either a single strand or several, with pearls of graduated sizes. Usually, the middle pearl is the largest in the strand. The uniform necklace uses the same size pearls in its strands and is probably the most common.

Choosing the right size
White pearls come in different sizes, with the most commonly used and sold ranging from 6.5mm to 7.5mm, while really small pearls measure 1mm or less. Some of the bigger pearls are in the 14 to 18mm range.

Generally, smaller pearls are best for younger women and children while medium to bigger pearls are flattering for older women. One of the reasons for this is tradition. In the past, the size of the pearl reflected the woman’s maturity and social status and so she wore the kind of pearls that were deemed appropriate for her.

The other reason is aesthetics. Younger women tend to have younger necks and the best way to show this off is to wear smaller pearls. Pearls of this size also do not look borrowed and women don’t seem to be playing ‘dress up’ with their mother’s jewelry. Older women are better off with medium to bigger-sized pearls, which also imply that she has reached a certain status in life.

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