If you walked into a jewelry store today, I highly doubt that you would find seed pearl jewelry, unless you visited their estate jewelry case. These pearls were once extremely popular in the Victorian Era of the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, however, one is mostly able to find only period seed pearls, especially an antique seed pearl necklace. Very few modern designers work with these diminutive pearls.
Seed pearls are natural pearls which can be produced by both saltwater and freshwater mollusks. They are usually either round or near round in shape.
Image by Kotomicreations via Flickr
Seed pearls are very tiny. So small, in fact, that they are usually less than 2 millimeters in size. Seed pearl beads were named such due to their miniature size, like that of a seed you would plant in your garden. Can you imagine both the patience and skill required to carefully drill holes through them for stringing?
Many seed pearl necklaces were strung on fine silk or white horsehair. The string had to be quite thin to string such small pearls onto them. Often, the large, awkward fingers of an adult were difficult to employ in this delicate process. It was not uncommon to find young people with small fingers and sharp eyes doing this.
Seed pearls were often sold in sets, rather than individual pieces, and were popularly given as special gifts. A woman's eighteenth birthday or impending marriage were such occasions which warranted a set of seed pearls, which may have included a seed pearl necklace, bracelet, earrings, and brooch. If you're fortunate enough today to find a complete set of seed pearls jewelry, you would be apt to get more money for it when trying to sell, as opposed to individual seed pearl pieces.
The designs of seed pearl jewelry is nothing short of breathtaking. The patterns created with the pearls was often delicate and ornate. Floral and scroll motifs were often incorporated into the designs. Seed pearls were also used as embellishments in women's embroidery. As the seed pearls are so small, you will often find hundreds of them in one design, especially that of a seed pearls necklace. Not only that, but multiple strands of the seed pearls create a much more dramatic and bold look.
Seed pearls are sometimes cut in half. This enables the designer to use them creatively in their pieces. A brooch or cameo might have half cut seed pearls forming a border around the design. As you might expect, half cut seed pearls are less expensive than the full seed pearls.
I think that seed pearl necklaces are absolutely precious. There's something about their tiny, unimposing size that gives them such grace and charm. They're perfect for many different women. If you're petite and favor smaller jewelry, if you're a teenager just starting to wear jewelry, or if your a collector of antique jewelry. No matter what your reason for wanting seed pearls, you'll enjoy many years of pleasure from them.