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A Heartfelt Story by Gayle

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 3:10:12 PM America/Chicago

A heartwarming story of love and joy was sent to us by Gayle. Here’s what she told us:

“I decided to start an Add-A-Pearl necklace for my granddaughter last spring on my son and her mother’s wedding day and I purchased a freshwater pearl necklace for my younger granddaughter as their wedding gifts on this very special day. Imagine how touched I was as we watched our son and his new bride walk down the aisle with my beautiful granddaughters as attendants wearing their new necklaces with their sweet bridesmaids’ dresses.

I will start my younger granddaughters’ necklace when she gets a little older and add pearls to my older granddaughters each wedding anniversary day.

 I hope that by the time the girls are ready to begin their adult lives, married, or single, to have their necklaces complete. There is nothing as special as a gift of love to remember a special life event. We gave all three of our granddaughters collectors dolls three weeks ago when they were here for the holidays, but the store was low on outfits when we went shopping for the dolls’ clothes so one of the dolls went home with only her PJs. So, her big package of doll clothes will arrive on the same day as the new charm I recently purchased for the Add-A-Pearl necklace.  They are so special and have a place in our hearts and family. I hope they will enjoy their necklaces as much as I enjoy adding to them each year.”

Thank you for sharing with us Gayle! We look forward to seeing your necklaces progress through the years as your granddaughters grow.

If you’d like to connect with us or share a personal story about your Add-A-Pearl necklace, visit us on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.

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Posted By Patti Dechter

A Gift that Lasts Forever - Alicia Capwell's Story

Monday, January 16, 2017 12:29:05 PM America/Chicago

Here’s another lovely Add-A-Pearl story to share—this one from Alicia Capwell about the necklace her daughter received.

“Katie Beth’s grandmother, CiCi, purchased an Add-A-Pearl necklace for her last year on her 1st birthday. She wanted to get her something every year that was a little more sentimental than ‘just a toy.” Every lady needs a strand of pearls and how neat is it to know that she is building hers every year. An heirloom at such a young age is so precious. We just love the necklace and the meaningfulness behind it.”

Thank you, Alicia, for sharing this story with us. It’s always heartwarming to hear about the joy Add-A-Pearl can bring to a family.

If you have a family tradition involving Add-A-Pearl, we’d love to hear about it. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

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Posted By Patti Dechter

Carol Ellis and A Family Tradition

Saturday, December 17, 2016 2:52:57 PM America/Chicago

"My daughter Amber is really amazing when it comes to finding the perfect gift! And she certainly did!

When my daughter was pregnant, she found out about Add-A-Pearl and asked us to do that so we would add pearls on every special occasion. We started Add-A-Pearls for my granddaughter Gemma and one for her cousin Katie 2 years ago at Christmas.  We wanted to do traditional gifts for them. They will both be 3 right after Christmas. We love and enjoy knowing that they will end up with beautiful gifts from family members so on their graduations or weddings they’ll have beautiful strands of pearls!"

 We welcome you to visit us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to share your Add-A-Pearl story with us!


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Posted By Patti Dechter

Rhonda's Family Tradition

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 2:39:40 PM America/Chicago

I remember so well as a little girl getting Add-A-Pearls from my grandmother.  I looked forward every year on my birthday to have another one added.  It was so much fun to watch the strand grow.  I remember the day when the necklace was completed and given to me for my 16th birthday.  I was so excited and I still wear those pearls today.  I have been lucky enough to continue the tradition with my 9 year old granddaughter which I started 2 years ago.  I will be starting a strand for the 5 year old next year.   I will look forward to one day completing both of the pearl necklaces for the girls for each of their sweet 16’s.   

 If you have a story to share with us, we’d enjoy hearing from you. Connect with us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.


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Posted By Patti Dechter

Add-A-Pearl for Every Special Occasion

Thursday, November 3, 2016 2:06:11 PM America/Chicago

Can you guess one of the biggest myths we hear again and again here at Add-A-Pearl?  Here’s a hint, it’s about who should give and get an Add-A-Pearl necklace and when it should happen.  But, honestly, we promise there’s no right answer. 

Sure, we’ll often say how sweet it is to hear about a bride who wore a necklace that was started for her when she was born.  However, we’ve heard a ton of great stories over the years that make us believers that starting Add-A-Pearl necklaces are perfect for many different situations and ages – not just those cute baby girls.  Always remember, Add-A-Pearl necklaces are about memories and traditions, so there are many lovely situations that can fit that bill.  Here are some of our favorite out-of-the-box memories begging to be remembered with pearls:

Oldie, but a goodie.  Like we said above, starting a necklace and then adding pearls at birthdays is a time tested - and common Add-A-Pearl fan - opportunity for the gift of pearls.  Though it isn’t exactly the out-of-the-box idea we just promised, it is just so perfect and always appropriate, we thought we’d kick off the list with it! Oftentimes, people think they need to start this on a girl’s first birthday. Though that makes for a cute family photo-opp, this birthday tradition can be started at any time.

Wedded bliss.  Getting married starts a brand new chapter in a woman’s life.  Though a lot of Add-A-Pearl stories go from baby to bride, starting an Add-A-Pearl necklace on one’s wedding can be a great way to remember the day.  Each anniversary, adding a pearl and watching the strand grow throughout the marriage is a fantastic symbol of the years of love shared by the couple.  Plus, it makes anniversary gifts easy for the husband each year – he’ll already know she’ll absolutely love that new pearl!

Just to say congrats! There are so many times throughout a girl’s life that beg to be remembered.  Marking milestones with pearls is a fantastic way to connect memories and accomplishments with a lovely piece of jewelry she can cherish for a lifetime.  From those magical firsts (her first steps or her first day of school) to rites of passage (like a Bat Mitzvah, a First Holy Communion, or school graduations), pearls can be the perfect acknowledgement of a lifetime of accomplishments.

The perfect non-chocolate gift!  Tired of the same old Valentine’s Day chocolate hearts or Easter candy bunnies? You can send or show your love each Valentine’s Day with the addition of a pearl for her necklace or when you and the Easter Bunny head out to hide eggs this year, why not include one extra-special something in with all the sweets by sneaking a starter necklace into a brightly colored plastic egg and see her smile when she discovers what it is!

Or just because. But, like we said, think outside that box!  There’s really no right or wrong time to give a girl a pearl.  It’s a great gift for any occasion and a thoughtful way show someone special you were thinking of them as well as looking forward to the memories you’ll continue to make.  A versatile yet classic and beautiful piece, we love that our Add-A-Pearl necklaces can fit the bill and represent practically all the moments in a girl’s life.  Remember, it’s about memories and traditions, and there’s no bad time to share those.


Each Add-A-Pearl gift is unique and the story that goes along with your necklace will be uniquely yours as well.  We love all the stories that get sent to us and trust us, there are never two that are exactly the same.  And that’s just how it should be.  Hopefully some of the out-of-the-box tips above help spark some ideas, and we’d love to hear more from you and the traditions you’ve made (or are just starting to build!) around Add-A-Pearl!

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Posted By Patti Dechter

Famous Pearls of History

Friday, October 21, 2016 1:09:33 PM America/Chicago

by Brad Kaufman, Gemologist diploma, guest AAP blogger

History is replete with pearls being associated with great wealth and power. Where you found one you found the other. A complete history of famous pearls is the subject of a book not a blog. However, we can take a glimpse at some famous people and their pearls. At a later time, we can return to this subject and view other famous pearls anew.

One of the most famous of pearl stories involves the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra and Roman General Marcus Antonius. The historian Pliny, in Natural History, told us the story. Some of it may be apocryphal but it is certainly interesting.

Cleopatra and Mark Anthony: These two historic greats met and their cultures did too. Attracted to each other and in political need they dined together. Cleopatra wore a pair of pearl earrings made of the then largest pearls known. She removed one and dropped it into a cup of vinegar. It dissolved and she drank it. Mark Anthony was greatly impressed. Pearls were held in great value by the Roman Empire and here one was dissolved and drank.

The precipitation of such an action was called a magistry. Cleopatra’s toast to Anthony was considered an aphrodisiac. Perhaps it was.

Later, they both suffered tragic suicidal deaths related to each other. A horrible end to a grand pearl drink.

A look at some other famous people and their pearls.

Queen of England, Anne Boleyn: Anne Boleyn was King Henry 8th second wife. He was greatly smitten by her. Sonless by his marriage to Catherine of Aragon he had their marriage annulled and married Boleyn. It was a short tumultuous one.

Boleyn was extravagant by nature and she surrounded herself with the finest of all things available. She was a great lover of pearls. A royal portrait of her shows her wearing a rope (over 37 inches) of large natural pearls and a gown festooned with real pearls. Pearls as part of royal clothing became quite popular. Boleyn’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth 1st, had over 3000 dresses decorated with real pearls.

Unfortunately for Queen Anne, she was accused of infidelity and plotting against King Henry. No pearls could save her now. In 1536 within the Tower of London’s walls she was beheaded.

Mae Plant and Louis Cartier—5th St. and East 52nd St., New York City: In Paris in 1847 Louis Cartier founded Cartier company. Cartier was a favorite of the wealthy and the royals. King Edward 7th of England once said of Cartier: “the jeweler of kings and the king of jewelers.” They were the finest.

In 1915 in New York City, Cartier wished a location on 5th Avenue. One was available. Formerly owned by Vanderbilt, the mansion was currently owned by Morton Plant a railroad tycoon’s heir.

Louis Cartier possessed a rare Oriental (natural) pearl necklace. It was double stranded and had been exhibited in Paris, London, and New York City. Morton’s wife, Mae, set her sights on this necklace. She wanted it. The necklace was valued at $1.2 million.

Plant purchased the necklace for $100 and the New York property. It was a regal sum and deal and Mae looked quite regal wearing the necklace.

Diana, Princess of Wales Swan Lake Suite: Tragically, this necklace made for her by the Crown Jeweler, Garrards in 1997, was the last to be worn by her to an official engagement.

Diana loved pearls—they were her favorite gem. She made use of them whenever she could. Famous photos of Diana wearing pearl chokers are found easily. Pearls were part of her life.

Diana’s necklace is comprised of five cultured 12 mm South Sea pearls on an artistic scroll. The scroll is held by a platinum diamond setting. Ten marquise cut diamonds weighing 8.59 carats are used. One-hundred sixty-four round, brilliant cut, diamonds encircle the neck. They weigh 42.35 carats.

The necklace is fitting for Diana. It is beautiful without being ostentatious. It carries a quiet regalness to it. It is simple and complex at the same time.

The Swan Lake Suite consisted of a necklace and matching earrings. The earrings were not finished until after her death.

From Cleopatra to Diana a good deal of history is covered. One thing all the years mutually include is the love of pearls by the famous. Today, we can enjoy the joy of pearl ownership. Your family’s pearls can be worn with pride!

Posted By Patti Dechter

Pearl Grading Factors

Monday, September 26, 2016 11:26:06 AM America/Chicago

by Brad Kaufman, guest AAP blogger

When buying a diamond, the conscientious consumer learns the 4Cs—cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. Created by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Gem Society (AGS), the 4Cs give consumers and jewelers confidence in the quality of the diamond they purchase. A diamond with a certificate from either organization has a permanent grade and offers lasting proof of quality.

Much like for the diamond industry, the GIA has also established criteria for pearl grading. There are seven GIA factors that establish a pearl’s value. That said, many companies use their own, non-GIA grades. A lot of companies use the A-AA-AAA system that was popularized by the Mikimoto Company. The problem is, however, that they all don’t use the same standards of grading what constitutes an A quality as opposed to an AAA quality. Some jewelers even use an AAAAA quality. So while many might use the same A-AA-AAA grading system, one company’s definition of what classifies an AA pearl could be vastly different from another company’s A grade. In other words, while they might be using the same grading scale, not everyone used the same criteria for what defined a particular quality. While perhaps helpful in showing differences within their own stock, these scales do not distinguish the universal quality of the pearls.  At best they are somewhat informative; at worst, they are completely misleading.

At Add-A-Pearl, the GIA factors are carefully considered and used for the buying and selling of each pearl.  This allows Add-A-Pearl to procure the right quality pearls, ensure the continuity of the quality of the pearls being sold, and lets the costumer know what to expect when picking out their pearls.

Here are the seven factors Add-A-Pearl uses when assessing pearl value:

  1. Luster: A highly valued factor, luster refers to the glowing appearance of a pearl or its ability to reflect light. Luster is defined by intensity and sharpness.  A pearl with a very high luster has an almost mirror-like appearance. Low quality pearls have a white, chalky appearance.
  2. Shape: Throughout history, perfectly round pearls were always considered the finest and are going to be the most expensive due to their rarity. These days in some places, however, other shapes are also in high demand for their designer appeal. There has been a trend within designer jewelry as more designers are using non-traditional shapes, such as baroque and semi-baroque, to create eye catching and original pieces, but the perfectly round will be the highest in value and rarity.
  3. Color: This factor is a combination of body color, orient, and overtone. The body color of the pearl is determined by hue, tone, and saturation.  Orient is the combination of colors glistening just below the surface of the pearl. Overtone is a layer of translucent color that appears over the pearl’s body color. Usually, creamy rose is considered the most desirable pearl color.  However, choosing pearls is a personal process and often reflects personal preferences when it comes to color appearance.
  4. Surface: Surface quality refers to the condition of the skin of the pearl. Simply put, the fewer the visible spots or blemishes, the greater the value.  When considering blemishes, the number, size, location, visibility, and type of surface all play a role in determining the grade. Too many blemishes take away from the beauty of the pearl by adversely affecting the luster making the pearls not as pretty as they would otherwise be. It is virtually impossible to properly match blemished pearls.  The best grade of a pearl’s surface is “clean.”  These pearls are either blemish-free or only have very small imperfections.
  5. Nacre Thickness: Essentially, it is nacre that makes a pearl a pearl, and nacre thickness is perhaps the most important aspect of the pearl that controls the beauty of the peal. Because without a nice thick layer of nacre on the pearl, all the other grading factors become secondary. It is secreted to cover whatever irritant finds its way into the oyster, clam, or mussel in question.  The nacre coating takes years to accumulate. Fine pearls have a longer maturation time and develop with thicker nacre. If the nucleus is visible, then the nacre is too thin. A chalky appearance may result from thin or poor layering of the nacre, lowering the luster grade.
  6. Size: With all other factors being equal, a larger pearl will be valued higher than a smaller pearl. Cultured pearls are measured in millimeters rounded to the nearest half-millimeter.  Natural pearls are measured to the nearest tenth of a millimeter. Pearls value will increase exponentially with pearl size. For example, a 6mm pearl will not be twice as expensive as a 3mm pearl, it will be approximately 5 to 6 times the price. Keep in mind, the price goes up dramatically with each increase in mm size. Why, you might ask? It takes much longer to make a 6mm pearl than a 3mm pearl so you can expect fairly high price jumps when you start getting into pearls sizes over 6mm.
  7. Matching: The pearls in a strand must have uniformity and consistency based on the other 6 factors to properly match each other. When it comes to matching, Add-A-Pearl is unsurpassed in the pearl industry. Time after time, year after year, our pearls match the pearls that preceded them to ensure a perfectly consistent and beautiful strand of pearls.

A commitment to these 7 factors is Add-A-Pearl's promise to provide necklaces that can be cherished and worn with pride.  Understanding these factors, each and every Add-A-Pearl owner will know their pearls are - and will always be - perfectly picked out to create a beautiful necklace tradition that will last for years.


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Posted By Patti Dechter

Taking Care of Pearls

Monday, September 26, 2016 10:19:39 AM America/Chicago

Taking Care of Add-A-Pearls

Written by Brad Kaufman, guest blogger


An Add-A-Pearl necklace is a cherished tradition and a lovely accessory for many styles. But, like most things, pearl necklaces need a little love to keep the high-quality pearls looking good throughout the years.  Pearls are a soft gem, and though quite durable, do need special attention to maintain their luster and condition over time.  Here are our top three tips for keeping your pearls perfect and pristine:


  1. Last on, first off. When dressing or undressing, your pearls should be the last thing you put on, after spraying hairspray and perfume, and the first thing you take off. Hairsprays and gels are lacquers that will coat your pearls. Once you have lacquered them up a few times, your peals will start to look yellow which is why many family pearl heirlooms have a yellowish tint. Grandma probably waited until she was just about finished getting ready to spray her hair and over a period of time, the hairspray turned her pearls yellow. In addition to ruining the pearls skin, putting your pearls on last will prevent catching your peals on your clothes and breaking the strand or snagging your clothes. While this might seem a tad obvious, it is a very simple way to guard against wear and tear.  Nothing could be more frustrating than snagging your necklace as you pull clothing on and off.  
  2. Savvy storage.  Proper storage is essential to long-term success in keeping your pearls looking as perfect as the first day you clasped them around your neck.  There are a few things you need to keep in mind when scoping out a spot: breathing room, no excessive heat, and no abrasive surfaces.  Pearls need to breathe and can't be exposed to heat. Overtime, your pearls can dry out and the nacre can crack, flake, and peel.  Being aware of how you store them can give your pearls a long, beautiful life.  If you have a jewelry box with a separate lined drawer already, then this could be the perfect place to stash your pearls.  Otherwise, wrapping your pearls in a soft pouch or selvyt cloth and setting them in a spot where they won't get jostled should keep them safe.  Please, we’re begging you, don't use a plastic baggie—your pearls will thank you too!
  3. Careful cleaning. A great way to make cleaning your pearls a habit is to give them a going-over each time you take them off.  Take a soft cloth dampened with water, and gently rub each pearl.  Then lay the pearls out on a soft, dry cloth to dry before storing or wearing. Wearing the pearls while damp or wet can increase the absorption of natural body oils into the pearls and can effect their condition over time.  Always try to keep cosmetics, perfume, and hair products away from your pearls.  These caustic solutions will cause damage, especially if left on the surface over time.  Regularly wiping down the surface of your pearls can avoid buildup of these everyday, yet harmful, solutions.  Always avoid using abrasive cleaners, Windex, detergents, ultrasonic solutions, or steamers. Pearls are porous, which means that oils and lotions and perfumes will penetrate them. So be sure to minimize their exposure to perfumes and sweat. They will soak it up, and it cannot be removed. Only use specified jewelry cleaners so long as they specifically say they are safe for pearls.  That said, water is always a safe and convenient option. After all, pearls grow - and spend years - under the water. 
  4. Restring. Whether you think they need it or not, have your pearls restrung every 2 years. The damage that loose knots do to pearls, and allow pearls to do to each other, cannot be seen without magnification…until it’s too late.


Show your favorite pearls a little love with every wear by putting them on last and taking them off first, storing them protectively, cleaning them with care, and having them restrung regularly. With a timeless Add-A-Pearl piece, you spend a lifetime building your necklace and each pearl is filled with tradition.  Much like your memories, you’ll want to cherish your pearls and wear them with pride, so keep them looking just as beautiful as the first wear with these helpful tips!


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Posted By Patti Dechter

The Best Add-A-Pearl Necklaces, A Jewelers Tradition

Thursday, September 8, 2016 9:04:29 AM America/Chicago

The Best Add-A-Pearl Necklaces, A Jewelers Tradition

Recently we were contacted by a retired gemologist and jeweler, Timi Hall Kaufman. Her family’s jewelry store, Hall Jewelers, had sold Add-A-Pearl necklaces for years. She wanted to present her first granddaughter, Randi (her great-grandmother's name), with a lasting present of beauty, warmth, and continuance. With her years of experience, an Add-A-Pearl necklace was her first thought.

Timi knows how carefully selected each pearl is before it’s made part of an Add-A-Pearl necklace. She knows the hand-picked effort that goes into making sure each pearl is of the highest quality and placed properly on the necklace. Timi also knows through years of experience that each addition of pearls and their reception is a time of happiness and remembrance of her love for the child. An Add-A-Pearl gift is not just a valuable piece of jewelry; it is a lifelong bond between the giver and the recipient.

As a pearl professional, Timi trusts Add-A-Pearl to make the right decisions for her and her family. She knows that the pearls chosen for her will match her exacting standards. She knows that an Add-A-Pearl necklace is the right thing for her and her granddaughter Randi, and she can rest assured knowing that we stand by the quality of this lasting treasure.

Natural Pearl Necklace or a Cultured Pearl Necklace?

Now, Timi faces her first decision. Should she purchase a natural pearl or cultured pearl to begin her Add-A-Pearl necklace tradition? The natural pearl necklace is the foundation on which pearl value and lore began, so it brings an element of history to the piece. Natural pearls are exceedingly rare and valuable. Since Add-A-Pearl is the largest user of natural pearls in the United States, we’re able to make these fine, unique pearls readily accessible.

But, you can’t forget the cultured pearl option. Cultured Add-A-Pearl necklaces are just as beautiful! The nucleus implanted within the Akoya mollusk is round and ensures a uniform shape. Add-A-Pearl selects only the finest pearls ensuring exceptional luster, color, and freedom from virtually all blemishes. Because the nucleus is larger, the resultant pearls are too. So, for a larger looking pearl necklace of unsurpassed beauty, a cultured pearl Add-A-Pearl is the right choice.

Pearl Necklace Clasps and Charms

Finally, Timi wants to choose a clasp and engraved charm to complete the starter necklace. She’ll put Randi’s name first and the date of the gift’s inception on the charm. However, other options are available too, such as Randi’s name and that the gift is from Timi.

Little Randi has many wonderful experiences ahead of her. Every time she receives new pearls, she’ll think of her grandmother and be reminded how much her grandmother loves her. And the best part is that Randi’s completed necklace may very well be the necklace she eventually wears on her wedding day, something Timi will be very proud to see, and something we’ll be very proud to be a part of.

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Posted By Brad Kaufman, guest blogger

Ashley Jackson Eakes Add-A-Pearl Necklace

Tuesday, July 5, 2016 12:43:15 PM America/Chicago

Add-A-Pearl is a thoughtful gift idea that can be started by anyone looking for a new tradition in their family. Here’s what Ashly Jackson Eakes had to say about how it began for her.

“My daughter is six. She received her first necklace with one pearl for Christmas from her grandfather. We had never seen or heard of Add-a-Pearl before then. He purchased from a small town family owned jewelry store here where we live. She loved it. She then received 2 more pearl from us (parents) for her Kindergarten graduation gift. Her birthday is not here yet, but she will receive one or two for her birthday and Christmas. We are trying to catch her pearls up to her age so that one day when she decides to get married her necklace of pearls will be complete. We love the fact that grandparents/parents can add to her special necklace for special memories one day as well.”


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Posted By Patti Dechter
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