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The Black Pearl Necklace..

Because black pearl necklaces are hand strung, pearl by pearl, the length of your necklace is totally up to your own imagination and personal taste. Generally speaking, taller women tend to seek longer strands, with larger black pearls, while petite women tend to wear shorter necklaces, with smaller size black pearls. The following paragraphs will discuss the different lengths of black pearl necklaces.

There are six different lengths as follows: choker, princes, matinee, opera, rope, and collar.

Single strand choker black pearl necklaces are the most classic of pearl necklaces. Chokers are normally 14 to 16 inches long, and work real well with open neck blouses, and scoop neck lines. The choker style black pearl necklace can be worn casually during the day, and elegantly into the night, and goes wonderfully with a nice set of black pearl earrings and a black pear ring.

The princess length is one of the most popular lengths, as they work well on both long and short necks. This length of pearl necklace is traditionally 17 to 21 inches long. Princess lengths look great with high collar blouses, or deeply draped neck lines.

The next length is the matinee length, which is generally 22 to 24 inches long. Most commonly this length is worn with turtle necks and high collar blouses. The matinee length of can ad an elegant touch to casual dressing.

Slightly longer than the matinee length of black pearl necklaces is the opera length. The opera length is traditionally 27 to 36 inches and are commonly worn to dramatically accessorize any dress or evening gown. When wearing a matinee length, you will have added versatility as to how to wear the necklace. The possibilities are endless.

The longest length of all is the rope length. The rope length measures 46 to 72 inches long. This length of black pearl necklace can be wrapped doubly, triply, and sometimes more, around the neck, creating many different elegant looks.

How Do Imitation Pearls Differ from Cultured?

Natural pearls and cultured pearls are produced in rivers, lakes, and a by living mollusks and can be very similar in appearance. Imitation pearls -- also called "faux," "stimulated," and most recently "semi-cultured" are not created by any living creature. They should not be referred to in any way as a genuine or cultured. Imitation pearls have never seen the inside of a mollusk. They are entirely artificial, made firm round glass, plastic, or shell beads dipped in a bath of ground fish scales and lacquer (called pearlessence), or one of the new plastic substances. The difference can usually be seen right away when compared side-by-side. One of the most obvious differences is in the luster. Give it the Luster Test: the cultured Pearl will have a depth of luster that the fake cannot duplicate. The fake usually has a surface "shine" but no inner "glow." Look at a fine cultured Pearl and on imitation pearl side-by-side (away from direct light) and notice the difference.

Use the "Tooth Test" to Spot the Fake

There are some fine imitations today that can be very convincing. Some have actually been mistaken for fine cultured pearls. An easy, reliable test in most cases is that "test." Run the Pearl gently along the edge of your teeth (the upper teeth are more sensitive, and also be aware that this test won't work with false teeth). The genuine Pearl will have eight mildly abrasive or gritty feel (think of the gritty feeling of sand at the seaside -- real pearls come from the sea), while the imitation will be slippery smooth (like the con artist, slippery smooth signifies a fake!). Try this test on pearls you know are genuine, and then on known imitation to get a feel for the difference. You will never forget!

The two tests may be unreliable for amateurs when applied to the imitation "Majorica" Pearl, however. Although to the trained eye they have a very different look from cultured pearls, this is an imitation pearl which might be mistaken for genuine. Close examination of the surface under magnification will reveal a fine" employee" surface that is very different from the smooth surface of a cultured or natural Pearl. An experienced jeweler or gemologist can quickly and easily identified a Majorica for you.