On Thursday, October 20, 2011, from 6 to 8 p.m., Chicago jeweler Sherri Bourdage of Bourdage Pearls, located at 3530 North Southport in Chicago is hosting “Pearl Education 101” to celebrate the history of the pearl, which she refers to as Mother Nature’s own “eco-chic” gem. Bourdage Pearls is bringing in local pearl expert, Edward Huang, from Huang’s Trading Co., in Skokie, IL, as a guest speaker for this free, educational seminar. Huang specializes in quality freshwater, Tahitian, Akoya and South Sea pearls and will offer insights on the “eco-chic” gems, alongside Bourdage Pearls owner Sherri Bourdage.
The pearl has been a symbol of unblemished perfection since ancient times. Considered the oldest known gem, the pearl is the only jewel made by an animal. Middle Eastern and Asian societies have been harvesting and wearing the precious gem since as early as 3500 B.C. In many countries, pearls were worn as a declaration of wealth and power, and were also used as a talisman to bring good fortune, to ward off evil spirits and to cure illnesses.
“Pearl Education 101” will educate attendees on what makes pearls unique, methods for selecting good quality pearls, the differences between saltwater and freshwater pearls and why purchasing pearls can be great for the environment. In addition to the educational aspect of the evening, Bourdage Pearls will also be offering beautiful heirloom and investment pieces of jewelry, available for sale this night only!
Sherri Bourdage gives a sneak preview of topics to be discussed in “Pearl Education 101”:
“A pearl is born when an irritant enters the mollusk and, over time, creates something beautiful,” says Bourdage. “This is the only precious gem made by a living organism. There is real nurturing that takes place, and the process by which the pearl protects itself is truly beautiful,” she adds.
Pearls have long been considered ideal bridal wear as they symbolize purity and innocence. Bourdage Pearls regularly sells pearl necklaces and earrings to brides, as they compliment a woman’s wedding attire with grace and class. Men are also purchasing pearl engagement rings, as opposed to the more common diamond ring. “Many of my bridal customers come in and purchase their first set of pearls at the boutique. They are surprised to learn that they are not as expensive as once perceived,” Bourdage explains. “For instance, freshwater pearls are significantly less expensive than saltwater [such as Tahitian] pearls. The price range of pearls found at Bourdage ranges from $15 to $1,200, depending on size, luster, collectability, age, etc.”
Pearls As Heirlooms
Pearls also give today’s generation of women the opportunity to start a new family tradition with an “eco-chic” heirloom that comes from nature. Oftentimes customers bring in their own heirloom pearls, asking if Bourdage might incorporate them into a new strand or jewelry creation. “The world’s changing ecology and other factors make pearls older than 20 years very valuable, and we advise people to keep them rather than exchange them for newer pearls,” she says. “But we also tell them that pearls need to be worn on a regular basis, not stuck in the back of a drawer. They like the body’s natural oils.”
Just as there are recommendations for purchasing diamonds, Bourdage recommends the five key qualities to consider when adding pearls to a woman’s jewelry box – color, luster, shape, size, and surface quality. “The natural pearl colors are white, pink, and peach,” she explains. “Saltwater pearls also come in blue, black, gold, and yellow. Some people like the deeper shades of pearl, but it really depends on what looks good against the skin. The better the reflection, the better the pearl.”
To RSVP for an upcoming Pearl History Seminar at Bourdage Pearls, , located at 3530 North Southport in Chicago, please call 773-244-1126.