Posts Tagged ‘rice pearls’

Pretty in pearls – freshwater keishi pearls for jewelry designers

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Hi bloglandia! Pearls are a standard in jewelry, yet the shapes and colors available these days are anything but!


Sondra mixed freshwater keishi pearls with keishi-shaped sterling silver beads and Swarovski crystals. The clusters of pretties hang from Santa Me sterling silver swirls.

Keishi pearls are actually collapsed pearl sacs. To me they look like shimmery, shiny souffles that have drooped into ruffly, lacy waves. The picture below shows several shades of tip-drilled keishi pearls, including the rose ones Sondra used in the above earrings. Virtually all freshwater pearls are enhanced in one way or another, but I love how the colors still have such “natural” variation. Quite lovely.

Tip-drilled keishi pearls add great texture to strung designs too.

Pearls are very soft compared to other gem materials. Since earrings are generally safe from much wear and tear, they are a great way to feature pearls, like with this Rosie Posie design:


Wavy brass disks, 3mm sparkly glass rondelles and antiqued brass findings paired with center-drilled "cornflake" keishi pearls.

In addition to being soft, pearls are also sensitive to chemicals and solvents, so it is always best to put your pearl earrings on *after* you’ve applied your hairspray, perfume and such. They are pretty enough to warrant a little TLC!

I had a bit of sticker shock when I first saw the price for center-drilled keishi like the ones in the earrings above. Compared to our other freshwater pearls, they seemed pricey. But then I realized just how many of these guys you get on a strand: about 100!

Each cornflake pearl is only 1-3mm thick - so 16" strands hold a LOT of them!

If you’d like to learn more about how freshwater pearls are cultured and created – and more care recommendations! – visit our Gemstone Index. One last pointer on pearls: unless specifically noted, pearls almost always have small holes – even standard size head pins are usually too thick. Thin pins or 24-gauge wire works much better!

From the Rings & Things Showroom: What’s Fresh with Freshwater Pearls

Friday, April 29th, 2011


Blue and Green Freshwater Pearls

One of my favorite materials to make jewelry with is, hands down, freshwater pearls. I absolutely adore freshwater pearls! Why do I love them so much? Well first and foremost, they are beautiful! Also, they now come in so many shapes and colors, that the possibility for jewelry designs are endless. Freshwater pearls add a whimsical and organic feel to jewelry designs and plus they help me to get in touch with my inner “mermaid”!

Some of the pearls we have right now at our Spokane, Washington Showroom

That being said, here at our Rings & Things Showroom in Spokane, Washington, we just received a huge shipment of beautiful pastel and jewel tone freshwater pearls (just in time to help you with your Spring jewelry designs)! Though I was tempted to keep these pearls a secret all to myself, I realized they were just too pretty to not share with our fellow jewelry “bloggies”. So I have taken some pictures to show you the rainbow of pearls we currently have on display.

So what are Freshwater Pearls?

Freshwater pearls are cultured with the use of mollusks; in particular a species of freshwater mussels. The mussels are injected with a nucleus bead that is sometimes made from a small piece of shell or mantel tissue. The shape of the injected bead helps to determine the shape of the future pearl, as nacre will form around this bead. Nacre is the silky coating layered on pearls that make them so silky and beautiful. Over the years, pearl producers have become quite skilled at creating pearls in a variety of shapes. Below is a visual guide of the most common pearl shapes and a little info about each shape. Enjoy!

Coin Pearls: These are formed by using a disc-shaped bead as the nucleus. Sometimes they are almost perfect circles, while other times the shape is much more organic.

Keishi Pearls: These are actually formed when the mussel rejects the injected bead. The result is a very free-formed shape that kind of resembles Rice Krispies! They are by far my favorite shape of pearl!


Corn Pearls: This shape is like a round, but more flat. They resemble corn kernels and are center-drilled. Corn pearls can be used where you would typically use a rondelle shaped bead.


Potato Pearls: These pearls can vary from almost perfectly round, to fairly lumpy, like a potato. This is a very common pearl shape. Sometimes potato pearls have ridges in the nacre.


Blister Pearls: These pearls are irregular and occur when a pearl grows while still attached to the inside of the shell of the mollusk. They are also sometimes called bouton pearls.


Button Pearls: These are very similiar in shape to the corn pearls. They are side-drilled with one flat side and one rounded side. The picture shows the rounded side, but they are sitting flat on the surface.


Biwa Pearls: This name originally referred to all freshwater pearls grown in Biwa Lake, Japan. However, the name now refers to any stick-shaped or rectangular pearls. Usually they are drilled horizontally in the center or tip of the stick, but as you can see sometimes they are drilled through the center lengthwise.


Rice Pearls: These pearls are smooth and oblong in shape like an oval. They are usually center-drilled, though sometimes they can be found side-drilled.

Well, I hope I have gotten you inspired and excited about freshwater pearls! We have an ever-growing supply of freshwater pearls here at Rings & Things available as regular stock all the time. If you want to see some of the fantastic bright and springy pearls we just received, then head down and see us at our Rings & Things Showroom or check out our traveling Trunk Show, heading across the country right now! (Request an invitation!)