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The allure of pearls

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Refined and subtly lavish, pearls can be worn with a variety of dress styles

An elegant white strand of pearls somehow never goes out of style. Refined and subtly lavish, pearls can be worn with a variety of dress styles. Be it an elegant sari, chic frock, short black dress or leggings, pearls are a perfect accessory to a multitude of styles.

Pearl strands are of varying lengths. Though, while partying, the longer the strand, the more wildly it will swing when you dance.

The two or three layered ‘pearl collar' of 12-13 inches lies snugly on the middle of the neck. This suits plunging V-necks, boat necks and off-shoulder necklines.

The single strand ‘choker' of 14-16 inches goes on just any neck-line. But if too much skin is showing, a choker will get lost.

The ‘princess' length of 17-19 inches is for high-necklines or plunging necklines, best complemented with a pendant.

At 20-24 inches, the ‘matinee' is for western style business dressing, landing just at the cleavage. It looks great with a bateau (boat), jewel, or a lower neckline

And the 28-34 inches ‘opera' is a single strand elegant stylish necklace, which can double as a two-strand choker. It complements a jewel or bateau neckline.

The pearl ‘rope' which hangs below the waist is more than 45 inches. Usually it can be separated into a whole set – necklaces and bracelets.

The first pearl is believed to have been plucked out of the sea by Lord Krishna. Once, these hard-to-procure highly venerated pearls were exclusively worn by royalty. This was until about 1920, when thanks to the efforts of a Japanese man, Mikimoto ‘cultured pearls' came into existence. Nearly all the pearls sold in the open market today are ‘cultured pearls'. A good pearl is judged by its lustre, surface quality, shape, colour and size. The most coveted pearls are pure white with mild rose overtones. Cream pearls are less expensive. Naturally dark and golden pearls are prized. A good pearl has a bright lustre – a warm inner glow combined with surface radiance. In contrast, imitation pearls, (glass, plastic or shell coated with fish scales and lacquer) lacks the inner glow and has a flawless surface with extra smoothness. On rubbing two pearls together, or against the teeth, real pearls will feel gritty while false ones will be smooth and the coated layer can be scratched off.

To care for your pearls, always remember that it should be the last thing you put on and the first thing you remove. They are durable, but need to be protected from acidic or alkaline substances like perfumes, hair-sprays, strong soaps and lotions. Use soft water, soft cloth and a mild baby shampoo if cleaning is required. Always store them separately in a soft bag or in tissue to protect them from scratches.

UMA CHODAVARAPU

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