Pearls Bring Elegance to Beaded Clothes

Considered the first precious gem collected and fashioned by humans, pearls have been worn as jewelry and ornaments on clothing as far back as over 5,000 years ago.Found in fresh water rivers as well as coastal seabeds, pearls are the product of mollusks or oysters. They form when a stone or bit of sand gets into the shell. The resulting layer after layer of lustrous nacre built up around the irritant forms the pearl.Although pearls have been used extensively as jewelry, they have also been used to decorate clothing throughout history.In the 21st Century, pearls are affordable and plentiful. Good-quality imitation pearls are readily available and even less expensive.Pearls are high-fashion, seen on high-end clothing. Used on everything from daytime business suits to nighttime formal evening wear, small, large, and irregularly-shaped pearls create a wide range of fashion looks.Here are the different types of pearls, along with a couple of ideas for using them on clothing and fashion accessories:Natural: Produced by the oyster without human interference. They are the most expensive and the rarest. These pearls are much too rare and expensive to sew onto clothing. String them or make them into earrings.Cultured: Made when a small stone or mother-of-pearl bead is put into the oyster’s shell, on which a pearl will grow. Much more affordable, cultured pearls can still be quite expensive, especially a well-matched strand. A double row of small cultured pearls along the edge of a scoop neckline on a good quality cashmere sweater would be very elegant.Baroque and Biwa: Irregularly shaped; not round or symmetrical. While the term “baroque” refers to saltwater pearls, Biwa pearls are from the freshwater Lake Biwa in Japan. Irregularly shaped pearls can be used as part of a large, mural-like, beaded embellishment on the lower leg of a pair of jeans. Paint a picture with the beads, using the irregular shapes to create components of the design.Blister and Mabe: Blister are pearls that form attached to the inner shell. They form a gem with a rounded side and a flat side. These are useful for embellishing firm objects, like a leather purse, where the pearl can lay flush with the surface. Mabe are the freshwater version of a blister pearl. Use them the same way.Freshwater: Resembling puffed rice, freshwater pearls form in mollusks and freshwater clams. They are found mostly in rivers but also in lakes. Sew them randomly across the front of a garment for an abstract look. Use them to create mural-like scenes on garments, whether small or large. Feature them as the trim along the edge of a coat.Seed: Tiny pearls weighing less than 13 mg are known as seed pearls, whether they are freshwater or saltwater. Seed pearls are the most versatile for creating beaded clothes. Use them in ways in which you would use seed beads for everything from accenting fabric prints to functioning as a trim on the entire garment.Create your own unique clothes and accessories using lustrous pearls.Copyright Sharon Shares, 2011