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What I wish I had known when I first started buying...

cmd2014

Ideal_Rock
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So after going a bit pearl crazy over the past year, I've been reflecting on the rookie mistakes I have made. So in the interest of my life having meaning through being a warning to others (like that funny faux-inspirational meme of the Titanic), I thought I'd start a thread for newbies and invite you all to join in: Advice for my earlier self: What I wish I had known when I was just starting out!

1). Don't buy cheap a$$ pearls with no luster or any other redeeming qualities just because you think they are better than nothing! They aren't! You will grow to hate them and dwell on how many truly beautiful things you could have bought with all the money you wasted buying multiple low quality items.

2). Stop buying retail! Just. Stop.

3). If you don't love it send it back! I mean really, really love it to the point where you smile and feel girly and special every time you put it on. Don't worry about hurting anyone's feelings or the cost of return shipping, or how many pictures you have posted on PS or other forums, or the thank you note the voice of your mother that lives in your head made you send...send that sucker back! See point 1. You will believe me later when you are older, wiser, and a fair bit poorer!

So...what are yours???
 

Frost Me

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WHAT I WISH I HAD KNOWN:

1. Don’t get caught up in what suits others or what seems to be the new wave of trends or offerings.
2. Educate yourself, and buy the best quality possible from the top vendors.
3. Learn to read the vendor photos for colors.
4. Photos of pearls always to seem to have more luster that in real life.
5. That I would fall more in love with pearls.

Interesting topic CMD2014
 

cmd2014

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Frost Me|1448250408|3952961 said:
WHAT I WISH I HAD KNOWN:

1. Don’t get caught up in what suits others or what seems to be the new wave of trends or offerings.
2. Educate yourself, and buy the best quality possible from the top vendors.
3. Learn to read the vendor photos for colors.
4. Photos of pearls always to seem to have more luster that in real life.
5. That I would fall more in love with pearls.

Interesting topic CMD2014

#4 is so true!

Also, I wish I had known that Tahitian pearls in a light box look almost nothing like they do IRL (i.e. On your neck under all other light conditions). It would have saved me months of thinking that everybody else was just better at picking pearls than me (and possibly a few purchases). The vendor vs real life thread is wonderful for seeing the difference!

I also would tell my newbie self to spend some time thinking about what I really wanted rather than impulse buying based on the sales of the month. A few classic, high quality pieces would have been a better choice than a bunch of random less expensive pieces that don't really stand the test of time.

Also, necklace length is key. Play around to see what works best on you and buy that, even if it means paying a bit more for custom alterations. There is nothing more destined to sit in a drawer than a strand that is an uncomfortable length.
 

Pearlescence

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There're no rules for what size of earring you should wear.
 

pearlsngems

Ideal_Rock
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Don't judge your collection by anyone else's collection.
 

Tucs

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Good thread. I would have thought more about my lifestyle and what suits my lifestyle better.

Also I would keep in mind more often that pearls (as beautiful as they are) don't retain their value as, say, diamonds.
 

marymm

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These are all great buying tips!

I would reiterate the one about knowing what colors suit you best... if you can't wear a pistachio-colored scarf around your neck, you probably will not care for pistachio Tahitians on your neck no matter how pretty they look in photos, IRL, and/or on someone else. (It took me quite a while to figure this out.!)

If you know what you really want, you may have to wait for it to come along -- it helps if you're in communication with whichever pearl vendor usually has the type of pearl/item you're search for -- they often can find exactly what you have in mind if not in their own vault then on their next pearl-shopping trip. It is well worth the wait to end up with exactly what you envisioned.

And I would add - if you have a pearl necklace you just never ever wear but don't want to give up/sell, consider restringing it (or having it restrung) into something else... for example, a bracelet and drop earrings, or a tin-cup necklace/bracelet set, or adding in some different pearls to create your own "harvest mix" type longer strand, etc.
 

icy_jade

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cmd2014|1448234443|3952881 said:
3). If you don't love it send it back! I mean really, really love it to the point where you smile and feel girly and special every time you put it on. Don't worry about hurting anyone's feelings or the cost of return shipping, or how many pictures you have posted on PS or other forums, or the thank you note the voice of your mother that lives in your head made you send...send that sucker back! See point 1. You will believe me later when you are older, wiser, and a fair bit poorer!

So so true.

And, buying in person is much easier than buying online. (And I'm lucky to be able to go to local jewellery fairs to shop for pearls.)

And size matters... Since I'm not petite I've realised that bigger often is better on me. So instead of getting itty bitty pearls I probably should have saved up for the bigger ones in the first place. Same concept as getting the right colors and length as others have mentioned... Would have saved a lot of money if I knew what suited me when I first started buying... So if you are petite then maybe smaller pearls and shorter lengths will work better for you.
 

BWeaves

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I agree with everything!

I'm not afraid to order something and then send back right away if it's not me. The 90 and 100 day return policies that some of the good online vendors have is great, but I send back pearls that don't set my heart on fire the next day. That way everybody wins. The vendor knows it was not worn. They can resell it sooner. I get my money back to buy something else.

While I've had great success buying some pearls online, I think Tahitians are a type I'm going to have to see in person. So far, the online photos just do not look like real life. I'm going to have to make a trip out west, I guess. It seems some pearls photograph better than they look IRL, and other pearls just don't photograph well at all but look dynamite IRL.

I also have decided that for me, I need to go with the best quality of the pearl type I'm buying or I'm just not happy. My Dad always said to either buy the cheapest thing that will do the job OR the best quality. Never go for the neither here no there middle ground. Granted, I think he was talking about kitchen appliances and cameras, but . . . where was I going with this thought?
 

Frost Me

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icy_jade|1448295542|3953110 said:
cmd2014|1448234443|3952881 said:
And size matters... Since I'm not petite I've realised that bigger often is better on me. So instead of getting itty bitty pearls I probably should have saved up for the bigger ones in the first place. Same concept as getting the right colors and length as others have mentioned... Would have saved a lot of money if I knew what suited me when I first started buying... So if you are petite then maybe smaller pearls and shorter lengths will work better for you.


What I was told by a vendor when I first started buying pearls from this vendor "we like big pearls." It has been mentioned on the forum many times that bigger pearls look better on as we get older. (Food for thought to Newbies)

I do not consider myself petite, 5'4 and 125 lbs :eh: (I wish) ++ I too love big pearls, I have recently acquired a pair of 13.4 mm Round Tahitian Studs, they are big, and weighty on my thin earlobes, with a low piercing. I agree with you Pearlescence!

img_0060.jpg
 

cmd2014

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Love those studs Frost Me! They suit you perfectly!

I would second BWeaves' advice about buying the best quality you can afford. I have realized that I am not really happy with off-round freshwater strands. I prioritized size over shape with my 8.5-9.5 mm strand and wish that I had just waited and saved up the difference for a Freshadama strand, even if it meant going a size down.

I have also learned to prioritize luster over being obsessed over minor blemishes. I've realized that small blemishes aren't visible on the neck from mirror distance (or conversational distance), but luster can be seen across a room. Large blemishes though are a different thing...if I can see it when the necklace is on my neck, I'm never going to feel ok about it.

The other thing is that 20% sales will come again, so don't feel like you have to jump and buy a piece that you can afford right now (and tell yourself it's good enough), rather than waiting until the next one when you can afford what you really, really want. This is a path to regret...
 

pearlsngems

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When I was starting out, my ideal was perfectly round white pearls. I bought Freshadamas-- but later passed them along to my daughter as I found that of all my pearls, I wore them the least. It wasn't just the fact that the silver-rose tone I had bought blended in with my skin. It was also that they didn't have iridescence as my baroque FWP pearls did. I just didn't find them interesting to look at.

I liked the AAA white metallics better than the Freshadamas, despite their being less round, but what I now love the most is my near-round, circled and baroque pearls-- naturally colored FW, akoyas, Tahitians and SSP. (And I also love my round multicolored exotic FWP.)

Pearls with irregular surfaces have iridescence, great luster and amazing colors, with the added benefit of being more affordable at larger sizes. And, they are unlikely to be mistaken for imitation pearls by people who don't know pearls (which seems to be most people.)

I think it's great that there is such an assortment of pearls available online that everyone can buy what they prefer the most. Baroques aren't for everyone. (And I still don't like ripples! :lol: )
 

Tucs

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Frost Me, those Tahitian studs look fantastic on you! Just perfect :love:

I am petite but also love bigger pearls. At least I know what I like! I got 13.6mm button studs the other day, and they look just fine despite my smallish earlobes.
 

stracci2000

Ideal_Rock
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Educate yourself!!!!!
Years ago, as a young jewelry lover, I read everything I could find about pearls. And there wasn't a lot out there.
Now, in the internet age, we can read about pearls for days!
Make sure you know how they are formed, where they come from, how much you should be paying.
Pearls are dyed, bleached, polished, etc.
The more you know, the less money you will waste on bad pearls.
 

Frost Me

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Thanks Tucs, I would love to see your new beauties too!
 

YC

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Great post!
My lessons learnt are

1. If you do not love the item in the first few days of receiving it, you will probably not love it in the future. Love does not grow with time.

2. I would have told my younger self not to buy small pearls. My 6-7mm fwp strand (first ever pearls) was worn for a
not more than a year and is now languishing in storage and will probably never see daylight again.

3. When buying strands and if you are stringing to a choker length (which was my favourite length in my younger days), make sure you have or can access a few extra pearls of similar colour/overtones. You may need to re-string to a longer length in the future.

4. Tahitians are best seen IRL - photos often do not reflect the colours accurately.

5. Do not follow trends blindly.
 

BWeaves

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I've also learned that my earlobes and the back of my neck have a limit to how much weight they will hold.

I keep forgetting that going up 1 mm in size almost doubles the weight of the pearl.

Also, I know pearls are getting bigger and look quite impressive, but I still prefer layers and layers of smaller pearls. Just my preference.

Also, I know some of you love ripples, but I prefer smooth shapes. Baroques are lovely, too, but no warts or pits.
 

Tucs

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Frost Me|1448418655|3953819 said:
Thanks Tucs, I would love to see your new beauties too!

Here they are, I am terrible with ear shots, I can never get the colour/luster right, but at least you can see the proportions. I'm also posting a photo of the two together. They have metallic luster and I think the button shape makes them very wearable. I got them from Pearlescence.

buttons.jpg

buttons2.jpg
 

Frost Me

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Tucs|1448465844|3954033 said:
Frost Me|1448418655|3953819 said:
Thanks Tucs, I would love to see your new beauties too!

Here they are, I am terrible with ear shots, I can never get the colour/luster right, but at least you can see the proportions. I'm also posting a photo of the two together. They have metallic luster and I think the button shape makes them very wearable. I got them from Pearlescence.


Nice!, They look so lustrous and set so well in the center of your earlobe, lucky pearl girl. I love this look is makes such a chic statement. Thanks for posting Tucs.
 

Tucs

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Thanks, Frost Me!
 

cmd2014

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YC|1448448213|3953969 said:
Great post!
My lessons learnt are

1. If you do not love the item in the first few days of receiving it, you will probably not love it in the future. Love does not grow with time.


This is just so true. What I regret are the things that I kept that I shouldn't have; I have not once thought twice about things I have sent back.
 

mtsapphirelovingannie

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As someone just starting, I think this is a very helpful thread. Thank you! :)
 

pearlsngems

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Another thing I've learned is that most retail jewelers don't know much about pearls. They may even buy "shell pearls" from their vendors and think they are real pearls, and sell them as such. (I actually saw this.)
If you buy retail, you really have to know your stuff.
 

cmd2014

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In contemplating my collection, I have a few more thoughts:

There will be a sweet spot that is completely individual to you in terms of pearl size and necklace length, and that may be different depending on the type and size of pearl you are wearing. An inch or two either way can make a HUGE difference. Plus, necklaces made of larger pearls will need to be longer than those made of smaller pearls to come to the same place on your neck, and what looks good on you for length with a small pearl necklace may not be at all the same length that will look good on you with a larger one. Try on lots and lots of things (even if you aren't planning on buying any of them), figure out what suits you best, and stick with that.

You will also be unique in terms of what size of pearl suits you, what shape, and what colour. Try on lots and get a better sense of your personal style and taste, and that will help you not be tempted by new trends which might not work well for you.

Buy pieces that suit the lifestyle you have, not the one that you might want. I have realized that except for formal occasions (which I do have, but not on a regular basis), I generally don't wear my round white pearls. So I am much better off buying what works best with the clothes that I wear to work every day, as those are the pieces that will see a lot of wear. I also love having a few 'special' pieces for when I am dressing up, so having one or two of these matters to me too (this is where my white round pearls fit in). But I am never going to live on Downton Abbey, no matter how much I wish it might come true, so I have to stop buying pearls for that.

What fits your lifestyle now may not fit it later. So buy for what you wear now, and worry about later, later.
 

cmd2014

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Oooh, I have another good one:

When considering making purchases during a high pressure sale (like the Black Friday sale), it helps to pull out and look at your collection in it's entirety. This helps you avoid ending up with a million things that are all the same and helps you to make better (and more rational) choices about where a gap actually does exist in your pearl wardrobe. Plus, if you are like me, it will both shame you a little and help you feel grateful for what you have, rather than feeling sad for sitting a sale out.
 

nojs

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Excellent info, kudos to all who have posted!

I was into pearls 10 years ago, but luckily spend my time mostly studying them and less by buying :) Then I got into diamonds and colored stones. And now pearls again! So I appreciate the lessons learned :)
 

nojs

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One of the problems of course is that it is really hard to know what you like before you have tried it. And it is possible that tastes evolve over time. This has happened to me with colored stones.
 
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