The queen of gems.
The gem of queens.
At Spey, the pearl is the star. We hand pick our pearls from across the globe to ensure exceptional quality and authentic style. Specialists in our field, we rigorously select, qualify and pair our pearls. Only the most stunning make it into the collection. The natural beauty of our pearls takes origin from our unwavering commitment to provenance. Spey pearls are simply pure, effortless grace.
What is a pearl?
The creation of a pearl is the very portrait of resilience and defiance. When an irritant makes its way into the soft tissue of a mollusk, the mollusk gets to work. Layer upon layer of nacreous fluid wraps about the irritant, protecting the mollusk and forming a lustrous globe that in time becomes the pearl.
Many people associate pearls with oysters, but there are other types of mollusks. A good rule of thumb is that oysters live in saltwater and mussels live in freshwater, but both can produce pearls.
Culturing pearls is man’s way of helping this process along by simulating the irritant. A master technician (think of him as an oyster surgeon) delicately implants a piece of shell into a mature mollusk. The mollusk then spends several years recovering in pristine waters and wrapping the irritant in glossy nacre.
A quick turn of the knife and the pearl emerges. It is the reward of patience and the oyster’s greatest triumph.
- Healthy oysters produce lustrous pearls. This symbiotic relationship between man and nature is crafting pearls in a manner that respects and sustains the environment. Discover the green side of pearling.
- There is femininity and grace in pearls that has lasted millennia, but beneath the romance lies a gritty and wrenching tale of the history of the divers that brought this gem to light. Explore the history of pearl diving.
The language of pearls.
A soft-bodied marine animal with one or two shells
The natural substance that builds layer-by-layer into a pearl
The depth and appearance of a surface in reflected light
Rainbow iridescence reflected across the surface of a pearl
The pearl trade was born of the Persian Gulf, but an insatiable demand spurred a global race. Today, pearls are harvested from Japan to Australia and Tahiti to Mexico. Like a fine wine, the provenance and pedigree of a pearl reveals the style and quality one may expect. Often the country of origin, not simply the sea from which they come, influences the final pearl.
A pearl may take many forms. Pearl characteristics are most heavily dependent on the type of mollusk that creates the pearl. These mollusks have both common and scientific names; some of the most well regarded species include:
The classic akoya is the pearl of legend. The first spherical cultured pearl, and the smallest of the main pearl-bearing mollusks, the akoya set the benchmark and defined the phrase “strand of pearls” for generations. Notably from Japan, these pearls are renowned for exceptional luster and mirror-like surface.
The akoya mollusk produces pearls rich in tones of white and cream, often with hints of rose, blush or blue. Typically the pearls are round or near-round and though they may range in diameter from 2 to 11 mm, most akoya pearls average 6 to 8 mm.
The kingly South Sea pearls are celebrated for thick nacre, satiny luster and a subtle array of color. The impressive proportions of the mollusk allow pearls of particularly large size to grow within.
Gold-lipped and silver-lipped mollusks from the coasts of Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and other islands of the South Pacific produce the lustrous array of naturally white, cream, silver and gold colors characteristic of South Sea pearls. Together with a typical range of 8 to 20 mm, South Sea pears make a confident statement.
Tahitian pearls, often referred to as black pearls because of their dark coloring, are born within the lagoons and atolls of French Polynesia. The black-lipped mollusk lends its rich coloring and an often metallic sheen to the pearls, which are typically 9 to 14 mm and range in shape from round to baroque.
Though the pearls may be grey, black, or brown, exotic overtones like aubergine, peacock, and pistachio dance across their surfaces. Strands may be composed of varied colors for a truly distinct look.
Conch pearls are quite rare and are most often oval or irregular in shape, with longer dimensions typically less than 10 mm. The conch univalve mollusk produces these pearls, with colors including pinks, yellows, browns and whites.
Conch pearls are not composed of the nacre of cultured pearls, but rather a mix of calcite and aragonite crystals arranged in columns. When these crystals intersect, they cause an optical wonder known as flame structure, enhanced by their porcelain-like luster.
As an organic gem, pearls are both resilient and sensitive. Keep them well and they can last for generations. To preserve your pearls’ luster, pearls should be the last consideration before leaving and the first when returning. Avoid contact with perspiration, cosmetics, hair products and perfumes; don the pearl when all other grooming is done. Before returning to the jewelry box, gently wipe your pearls with a soft cloth.
Before wearing, pass your pearls across your hand and make note of any discrepancies or irregularities. One of the hallmarks of pearl jewelry is perfect symmetry. Carefully check for strong, tight knots, solid fittings and clasps, and surface consistency. Pearl necklaces may need to be restrung every year to keep the silk strong and your pearls secure.
Be careful not to toss and bump your pearls during wear. Remove pearl rings and bracelets when working with your hands. To preserve the strength and integrity of the piece, avoid getting pearls wet or leaving them in sunlight or high heat.
The simplest way to preserve the luster and beauty of your pearls is to gently wipe them with a soft cloth after each use. Do not immerse in water or use soaps to clean pearls or pearl jewelry. If your pearls come into contact with acidic liquids or detergents, immediately wipe the pearls clean with a warm, moist cloth and lay on a flat, soft surface to dry.
If the look of your pearls appears to be diminishing, consult a specialist and bring in your jewelry for professional cleaning and restringing. A little extra care will keep your pearl jewelry strong and lustrous.
Pearls should be stored separately from other pieces of your collection. Gems and metals may rub against pearls and lead to surface abrasions or scratching. Fasten any clasps or pins to prevent tangles and lay each piece in a softly-lined, dark jewelry box or pouch. Laying pearls on a flat surface prevents stretching and tension on the string.
Pearls long to be worn. Leaving pearl jewelry in a security box or vault for extended periods may dehydrate your pearls and cause fractures. Do not neglect your pearls – enjoy them often!