Jewelry Journal: Working with Coin Pearls
Freshwater pearls are remarkable gemstones. Unlike all other gems, they are formed inside of living creatures. They come in a vast assortment of colors, sizes and shapes, and since entering the market several decades ago, they have made it much more affordable for an average person to own genuine pearls.
The coin pearl is a unique type of freshwater pearl. While you may think of a sphere when you think of pearls, a coin pearl is actually flat. As the name suggests, it is shaped like a coin, though it is much thicker. They are a unique addition to handmade jewelry projects and can be used to create pieces that are truly one of a kind. Let’s take a closer look at this beautiful gem and learn more about working with coin pearls.
What Are Coin Pearls?
Coin pearls are a type of cultured freshwater pearl. They are primarily farmed in freshwater mussels in China in lakes, rivers and streams, and they come in a range of colors, including pink, peach, white and blue.
Unlike traditional round pearls, coin pearls are flat. This shape occurs when a coin-shaped nucleus (which is typically made from a piece of shell) is placed inside a mollusk rather than a spherical nucleus. The flat, round nucleus acts as an irritant, which prompts the mollusk to secrete a substance known as nacre. The nacre builds up over the course of several months until a pearl forms. Knowing exactly when to harvest the pearl is challenging. If it is removed too soon, the nacre will be thin and the nucleus will still be visible. If the farmer waits too long, the pearl will lose its pearl shape and start to take on more of a baroque, non-symmetrical appearance.
Types of Jewelry That You Can Make Using Coin Pearls
Coin pearl beads are side-drilled and they can be used in a wide range of jewelry-making projects. They work especially well when used to make earrings and bracelets. Larger coin pearls also make beautiful pendants. One of the main benefits of using coin pearls as opposed to round ones is that their flat surfaces allow them to lie beautifully against the skin.
Because they are flat, they can easily be sewn onto fabric projects, too. They look beautiful, for example, when stitched onto delicate knitted shawls or when added to glamorous handbags and clutches. Most are roughly the size of a dime but smaller and larger ones are available, making them extremely versatile for use in a wide range of projects.
Other Beads and Gemstones That Look Great with Coin Pearls
Coin pearls are gorgeous when worn on their own, but they can also be paired with several other beads and gemstones to create truly breathtaking jewelry pieces. Rose blush coin pearls look amazing with rose quartz, for example. By pairing these two gems, you can create a pair of soft pink earrings or a necklace that exudes delicate beauty.
Peacock blue pearls would pair nicely with gemstone beads featuring a metallic finish. White and off-white coin pearls go nicely with clear quartz beads if you are working on a piece that is subtle and elegant. You can also spice up your plain white pearls by pairing them with vibrantly colored gemstones, such as amethyst, howlite or carnelian. To capture the timeless elegance of black and white, pair white coin pearls with sparkling black spinel or obsidian beads.
What to Look for When Buying Coin Pearls
The quality of coin pearls varies significantly. Some are sold when the nacre layer is too thin. This often results in a pearl with a dull luster that is more prone to damage. High-quality coin pearls have thick coatings of nacre but are still primarily round and flat. They may, however, still have “imperfections” like tiny bumps or tails. These variations do not detract from the overall quality, though, as long as each coin has a consistent thickness.
At Beads of Cambay, we carry a wide range of side-drilled coin pearls in sizes ranging from 9mm to 17mm. We source our pearls from the best freshwater pearl farms in the world, and we only work with farmers who provide top-quality products. When you buy from us, you can rest assured knowing that you are getting a quality product at a reasonable price.
We stand behind our products and if you are unsatisfied for any reason, we have a no hassle return policy. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to helping you with your order!