I’m a huge fan of pearls, both in their traditional iteration as a classic strand (or even better, two or three or more) worn around the neck, and as elements of more creative styles of jewelry. Their sheen works like soft lighting near the face, reflecting off smooth skin.
To supplement my working knowledge of pearls, I attended the Gemological Institute of America’s Pearl Grading Course earlier this month, a hands-on class which I thoroughly enjoyed. I found it was easy to be dazzled by the many gorgeous hues of the pearls we had the opportunity to assess during the class. I took the opportunity to hold the various samples against my hand to see how some hues made my skin look lovely and others, not so much.
In assessing a strand of pearls, one of the markers of quality is how well matched the pearls are. How well the pearls match your customer is similarly an important consideration in selling pearls that will make your customers happy.
Hue or color is a prime consideration in matching pearls to your customer. You should be well familiar with the concept of warm versus cool skin colors, warm with its yellow or peach undertones and cool with its blue or pink. In assessing whether someone is primarily warm or cool in his or her coloring, consider not only the skin, but also the hair and eyes and make an overall determination. Many people are a hybrid of warm and cool, especially those who color their hair, which often adds warm red or gold highlights. Even if the modified hair color isn’t optimal for a person, that color needs to be taken into consideration in selecting pearls (or any jewelry, for that matter) that best complements the individual.
In choosing the optimal shade of white pearls, look to the whites of the customer’s eyes, especially if her eyes are large or prominent. Teeth are a second and less reliable indicator of the optimal shade of white because very often the teeth either have yellowed somewhat in their natural state, or they have been unnaturally whitened beyond the point of what would have been the optimal color. However, for the customer with a dazzling smile or a toothy grin, where you notice the teeth first, be sure that the pearls are a nice complement to the color of the teeth.
If your customer is looking for colored pearls, it will be fun to demonstrate how South Sea pearls of a golden or orange hue contrast with Tahitian pearls having a pink undertone against the customer’s skin. Or perhaps she will gravitate toward the newer shades of brown pearls. Help your customer find the pearls that best complement her cool or warm coloring.
The customer with a mix of warm and cool coloring can probably wear either warm- or cool-hued pearls, although she may find that she prefers one over the other. For pearls worn against the skin, such as classic strands, the skin color generally trumps the hair color. Mixing pearls with precious metals in jewelry is a beautiful way to incorporate both warm and cool into the mix. For instance, a necklace of pink-tinged Tahitian black pearls set in yellow gold or one of golden South Sea pearls set in platinum incorporates both warm and cool tones. And a necklace of multi-colored pearls can also beautifully accomplish the same effect.