Match Made in Heaven: How Pearls Are Matched for Jewelry

Spey Co. Finely Matched Pearl Strand

A perfectly matched, uniform row of lustrous gems is just one of the hallmarks (there are many) of an exquisite pearl necklace. But have you ever thought how a fine jeweler like Spey brings this strand together? After all, pearls are an organic gem and not everything that emerges from an oyster is the same. Take a peep into the oyster’s shell and the jeweler’s workshop with Spey.


A healthy mollusk makes a beautiful pearl

When discussing pearls, it helps to know a little about how they are formed. When an irritant penetrates the soft tissue of a mollusk, like an oyster or mussel, the agitated creature gets to work. By slowly secreting a lustrous substance called nacre within a specialized ‘sac’ that forms around the irritant, the mollusk soothes the offender and continues its happy filter-feeding way. In time, layer after layer of nacre stacked tightly together form the prized pearl. It is the oyster’s greatest triumph: beauty over adversity.

But as you can image, not every pearl that is culled from the sea is round. In fact, very few are. Each pearl is unique – varying in size, shape, color, luster, and surface quality. Pearl farmers work to influence the success of their crop and the resulting pearls that emerge, but much is left to chance and nature. One universal truth exists: the happier and healthier the mollusk, the better the resulting pearl. Oysters rely on clean, pristine water, and that supportive environment results in large, lustrous pearls.


It takes patience, my dear

Each year, the pearl farmer waits patiently for harvest, not knowing the quantity or quality of pearls that will be collected. As mollusks are shucked, the pearls are sorted and graded. Only the finest make it into the Spey collection, but that’s only half the story. If you have a single, lovely pearl, it can be fashioned rather easily into an elegant Spey pendant. But if you want a pair of earrings, you must wait until two identical, lovely pearls are harvested. And if you want a fabulous pearl bracelet or strand, you’ll have to wait until dozens of identical pearls are collected and matched. Some exquisite strands take years to assemble.

Why? Because pearls are worth the wait. When a brilliant pearl is found, it deserves to be respected and showcased in all its glory. Having the patience to wait for several harvests or many years to compile a matching set results in a suite of jewelry that is breathtaking to hold and to wear. Some truly magnificent pieces may take 20 or more years to find pearls that are just right. It’s a long wait, but a rich reward.