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White Pearl Necklaces

A classic white pearl necklace is a staple of a pearl lovers collection. There are multiple types of white pearl necklaces which we shall discuss here.

A traditional white pearl necklace from Japan consists of Akoya pearls. These necklaces have worn since the Japanese started culturing pearls in 1906. Akoya pearls made pearls affordable and accessible to millions who could not pay the stratospheric prices of Natural pearls. Coco Chanel would not leave her apartment without dressing up with ropes of her favourite white pearl necklaces in differing lengths. Marilynne Monroe, Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy Onassis were all classic, world famous women who loved to wear cultured pearls. These Akoya Pearl necklaces could be graduated in size usually from 3 to 7 millimetres or in uniform sizes made up of 5,6,7,8,9,even 10 millimetres.

Pearl necklaces strung to various lengths depending on the style the customer requires, each length has a universal name, these are;

  • A choker is a 16 inches long;
  • A Princess length is 18 inches;
  • A Matinee is a 22 inches;

An Opera length white pearl necklace is 32 inches long, which is a double strand.

These lengths are the same whether your white pearl necklace is made up of akoya cultured pearls or Chinese freshwater pearls or south sea cultured pearls or Natural pearls.

Chinese freshwater pearls have been a staple of the pearl business since the 1970’s and are much lower priced than cultured pearls due to the fact that they are mass produced as farmers are able to cultivate multiple pearls in a single mollusc rather than the one pearl per oyster limit in south sea cultured pearling. As an everyday extremely affordable option for a white pearl necklace you cannot go wrong with freshwater pearls.

Increasingly rare these days, a white pearl necklace made up of Natural pearls are most often only able to be purchased at auction or in a few select estate dealing retailers and antique dealers worldwide. The usual size of these types of natural white pearl necklaces is well over ten thousand dollars In 1917, The Cartier brothers; Louis and Pierre swapped two white natural pearl necklaces and one hundred dollars in exchange for a mansion that became The Cartier flagship store located on Fifth Avenue at 52nd Street with Mr Morton Plant for his wife Maisie to wear.

woman modelling a white pearl nacklace
woman wearing a white pearl necklace

South Sea White Pearl Necklaces

More About Pearl Necklaces

A white pearl necklace made up of white south sea cultured pearls makes for an amazing statement piece of jewellery. There are various sizes and shapes one can choose from. For a classic round white south sea pearl necklace one can choose a graduated size or uniform size. The average of the Australian white pearl harvest is 12 millimetres. The average of the Indonesian white pearl harvest is 10 millimetres. A graduated white south sea pearl necklace can be anywhere between 9 and 21 millimetres and usually the graduation is around 3 millimetres as in 9-12 mm, 10-13 mm, 13-15 mm and so on. Pearls ranging from 15 – 18 millimetres makes a magnificent white pearl necklace and a round clean necklace of this size can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In constructing, designing and creating a white round pearl necklace one can first pick the centre pearl and then work outwards selecting pearls that match this centre pearl. The pearls should match in colour or tone of white, lustre and cleanliness of skin. If the necklace maker creates a white pearl necklace of lower lustre or more spotting the price will be ten to twenty times less than a clean skinned very bright necklace.

A white pearl necklace of south sea pearls from the Pinctada Maxima pearl bearing oyster can be made in any size from 9 to 21 millimetres (the size range of south sea pearls) and with any shape and all shapes are popular; round, near round, drop, oval, button, semi baroque and baroque.

Lustre is an important component in selecting a white pearl necklace and the basic rule is the better the coating of nacre in cultured pearls, the better and stronger and brighter the lustre.

Cleanliness of the pearl surface and skin is also important in determining the prices in a white pearl necklace with the cleaner pearls costing the most.

We would be amiss if we did not mention necklaces can be made out of Keshi pearls, the small sized natural by-product of the culturing process. Keshi pearls make beautiful white pearl necklaces. Keshi comes from the Japanese word meaning poppyseed or small thing. Keshi’s come in round and drop and baroque shapes. Since the Keshi pearls are all nacre they have very high grade lustre for the most part and so a white pearl necklace made up of Keshi pearls is a really beautiful item and immensely popular.

Whatever your choice, be it Keshi, freshwater pearls, south sea cultured pearls or Japanese akoya pearls, a white pearl necklace is a classic, timeless and one of the most elegant item of jewellery to own in your jewellery collection.