Pearls are indeed an important part of your basic jewelry wardrobe, and they are more affordable in their many forms today than ever before. Naturally, traditional pearls are the most basic when in white. There are many colors available, dyed and natural, but starting with a white strand is the most practical.

When we think of the simple strand of white pearls, whether we are aware of it or not, we are thinking of the Japanese Akoya pearls. There are called “Akoya” because the pearls grow in an oyster called “Akoya.” The cost of Akoya pearls are driven by many factors, including the fact that only 2-4 pearls can grow in each oyster. There was a time when only the Akoya oyster was producing good quality, round pearls suitable for strands, but that is no longer the case.

In the last 30 years, the Chinese have developed the harvesting of a freshwater mussel that can produce 40-50 pearls per mussel. With this industry’s improvements, strands of freshwater pearls are available for far less money than the traditional Akoya pearls, without the need of loss in luster, color or quality.

The variance of quality in freshwater pearls, however is vast. Therefore, it is important for you to go to a reputable jewelry store to pick out pearls. The store should be able to show you at least a couple of different qualities in each category to help you see a better and lesser quality. Also, they should have Akoya and freshwater pearls to show you, so you can make comparisons between these two categories.

Don’t forget pearl stud earrings as part of your Basic jewelry wardrobe. You might want to purchase pearl studs at the time you purchase your strand. This way, you are sure that they will match. There is a surprising amount of difference between pearls. If you plan on getting the earrings on another trip, bring your purchased strand with you to ensure a good match.

There are different standard lengths of pearls to consider for your jewelry wardrobe. Consider what will serve you best. The princess length, 17″-19″ and the opera length, 26″-36″ are the most popular. There also are the collar, 12″-13″; the choker, 14″=16″; and the rope, 37″ or longer.