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The holiday season gives people an excuse to do that little extra.

People go all out spoiling loved ones with gifts, giving back to the community or decorating their houses — or all of the above!

To make your house stand out from the rest, adding subtle touches here and there goes a long way. One such subtle touch that can fit into most every holiday idea is: pearls.

Here are a few easy ideas using imitation, simulated or plastic pearls to take your holiday decorating to the next level. 

1. Create Your Own Ornament Using Pearls

There are so many different types of ornaments and decorations people try to use when decorating their trees. Many people now theme their trees.

If you are looking to add a bit of class or something unique to your tree this year you can use pearls to decorate ornaments. Here’s how:

• Option A: Simply glue pearls—plastic, of course, to the outside of an ornament. You can cover the entire outside or form letters to spell names or create a fun design. Try doing this as a fun activity with kids for some fun family bonding.

• Option B: Find a clear or see-through ornament and fill it halfway with pearls. This way, you can see the tree through the ornament. Pro tip: placing the ornament right in front of a bulb will light the ornament and draw guests’ attentions to your DIY masterpiece. 

2. Add Bling To Your Wreath

Door wreaths are a staple of holiday decor. To spice up an ordinary wreath, add some pearls to the mix. Simply glue some onto the wreath’s ribbon or create a wreath made entirely of pearls. 

3. Pearls To Accent a Candle Setup

Candles of all shapes and sizes are used around the holidays. They are used to warm a home during the colder months, as decoration throughout the home and as centerpieces at the dinner table. 

If you are using candles as centerpieces, consider using a small candle or tea lights and a larger vase. Fill the vase with small, holiday-colored pearls, and place the candle on top. As an added bonus, try using a tall larger jar or vase and fill it with water so the candle floats and the pearls sink to the bottom. 

4. Forget the Garland

All classic Christmas trees are finished with a wrap of garland. Change up the tradition this year, and grab a long strand of pearls and encircle your tree with it. Wrapping the pearls around the tree creates a timeless, elegant and unique look to finish off your holiday decorations.

No matter how you incorporate pearls into your decorations this year, guests will be sure to notice the added touch.  

 

 

Alyssa Groh, 22CM Boost

 

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Halloween is lurking around the corner, and odds are you will take the kids trick or treating or will be heading to a costume party — or both! 

For many of us, Halloween is like Christmas. We cannot wait to go all out, both in our attire and with our home decorations. The anticipation is agonizing. 

If you are considering creating your own costume, or looking for accessories to complete your costume, here are a few costumes in which you incorporate pearls for some added flash and style:

1. Mermaid

I know I said “flash,” but how about a splash! Not only is this costume incredibly simple, but pearls fit in perfectly with it.

Just grab a swim suit and spice it up by gluing on some pearls to add a shimmering effect. If you don’t want to ruin a swim suit, consider making a headband out of pearls or wearing pearl earrings. After all, pearls and mermaids come from the same place! 

2. Flapper

The 1920s party woman, or flapper, is the perfect Halloween combo: classic, fun, inexpensive and simple to make. You could purchase a packaged costume, but this costume can also be made at home.

Grab that shimmery dress (or grab one at a resale shop), create a fun feathered headband, a fake cigarette and some pearls — earrings, rings, necklaces and bracelets — to dress the look up.

3. Pirate

While this is a popular costume idea, you can still be original. Creating a look that is your own to make yours stand apart is easy. 

Get creative with this one and use household items such as black boots, button up shirts, vests, hats and yes, pearls.

After all, pirates love jewelry of all kinds. Just say they were stolen in a midnight raid. Plus, if you use black pearls, it will be a subtle homage to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie franchise. (Look it up!)

Decorate the hat or boots or just wear the pearls. It all works.

4. Miss Congeniality 

This movie is not a guilty pleasure. It’s just a pleasure! The famous Sandra Bullock film is about a not-so-graceful undercover cop who enters a beauty pageant. 

So dress to impress by wearing your favorite gown, pearls and tiara. This will be a night where you have an excuse to feel like a princess — but don’t forget the garter holster and badge!

5. Audrey Hepburn

This is a can’t-go-wrong classic and iconic look. It is timeless, too, so don’t worry about it being played out. You’ll always be clever as Holly Golightly from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” whose iconic look includes a black evening dress, pulled-up hair and a string of pearls.

But did you know that regardless of her iconic role Hepburn’s favorite jewelry was pearls. It’s a win-win.

6. Disney Princesses

No matter your age, you can pull off a Disney princess. We support the decision. And with any Disney costume pearls can be incorporated. Depending on the princess, grab a pearl that is the same color as the dress and wear a necklace or earring to match. 

For example, if you want to be Cinderella classic pearl earrings will suffice. On the other hand, if you are dressing up as Snow White adding a red pearl necklace to your outfit will allow you to stand out in the best of ways.

Whether we realize it or not, pearls are can be used in so many different costumes. No matter your costume, pearls can complete the look. 

 

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The gift that keeps on giving. "My mother started and Add-A-Pearl necklace for our daughter," said Laurye Cambell Ray. " She started the necklace sometime around 1985 and added pearls each birthday until she completed the necklace. My daughter wore her necklace for her college graduation in 2007 and when she got married in 2010. Here is a picture of her wearing her necklace when she got married."

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There are so many details that go into planning weddings. Most people don’t realize it until they plan their own, when detail after detail fly in your direction. 

And within those wedding-planning details are a variety of musts and traditions. One of the most common traditions is incorporating something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.

That’s a lot of pressure coming from a rhyme that has existed since before you were born (the 19th century!). So before you gather your somethings, you should know where the tradition began.

And that’s where we start today.

 Origin of the Rhyme

To understand the tradition, we must start at the beginning. 

The actual wording from an Old English rhyme dating back to the 1880s is “Something Olde, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, A Sixpence in your Shoe.” 

The thought behind the rhyme is that treasured items and gifts from family members will bring a couple good luck as they take the ultimate step forward.

As the years have gone on, the tradition has evolved and each couplet of the rhyme has its own meaning. 

 Something Old

“Something old” can refer to a variety of things. It has traditionally been used to remind the couple of where they come from, as well as their family’s roots.

Many times, parents hand something down to the bride and groom that holds a special meaning to the family. Commonly, that is a piece of jewelry, such as pearl earrings, bracelets or necklaces; or a handkerchief or cuff links.

 Something New

This idea is straight forward but an integral part of the tradition for the new couple. 

As the couple starts a new journey as husband and wife, the idea of incorporating something new represents the start of a new life chapter.

This item can be as common as the wedding dress or the rings. Also, many couples buy each other a gift and exchange them before the ceremony, and that can also act as the something new. 

Something Borrowed 

This one can be confused with “something old,” but don’t think too much. You can tackle the tasks separately or combine them!

The idea is to borrow something from a couple you look up to — parents, grandparents, friends or a sibling. Incorporating something from another couple’s wedding into your wedding is said to bring a couple good luck from another successful marriage. 

Many times, the bride uses a cutout of her mother’s or grandmother’s wedding dress and sews it into her own. Or, again, a piece of jewelry is passed down. A locket or family keepsake like an Add-A-Pearl necklace fits the bill perfectly!

For the men, a handkerchief is passed down, or a tie or watch. 

This one is also the most flexible. Be creative. 

Something Blue

Blue symbolizes the couple’s fidelity, so it’s kind of important!

Unless blue is part of the wedding colors, typically a touch of blue is incorporated in flowers, jewelry, the garter or other accents.

 This old rhyme may feel like a lot of pressure, but there is no federal mandate on following these rules. It’s all in good fun and can make your wedding that much more special and personal.

As you ask around for certain items, you may learn some things from your parents or grandparents about their wedding, and may collected advice for you and your future spouse. 

Happy hunting!

  

 

By Alyssa Groh, 22CM Boost

 

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Let’s face it ladies, as we get older, the prospect of another shower — or sprinkle (Yes, it’s a thing!) — gets less and less exciting. And each and every one of them has the same, old games to entertain guests and make the shower a bit more enjoyable. 

After a few showers,  though, all the activities blend together, and you could do them with your eyes closed; sometimes that’s even the point of the game!

But shower games aren’t necessarily a bad thing. They just need some upgrading.

The key to a good baby shower is creating games that are unique and fun for everyone. That being the case, these games will keep everyone at the party laughing and are sure to make the shower fly by.

1: Baby Face

This game will not only be fun for creative minds, but it will be sure to make both Mom and Dad laugh, we hope. 

All you need is multiple printed out headshots of the parents. Then, cut the faces horizontally into a few pieces.

Participants can now take some pieces from Mommy and some from Daddy and create what they think the baby will look like.

Will the baby be an attractive mix of both? Will he or she look more like Mommy? Or will it be the worst-looking hybrid in the history of the world?

It’s all up to the showergoers.

Prize idea: A picture frame for the Rembrandt or Picasso.

2: My Water Broke

This prize for this game will come to those who wait.

To play this game, preparation is needed in advance of the shower. Buy enough small (think tiny) plastic babies for each guest. One per guest.

Place small plastic babies into ice trays with water and freeze over night. 

On the day of the shower, store the ice cubes in a cooler and have each guest grab an ice cube. 

Whoever has the first ice cube that melts, shouts “my water broke” and wins a prize. 

 Prize idea: A water bottle or mug.

 3: Feed the Baby

Are you brave enough to eat baby food?

This game is simple and hilarious (my favorite combination); though, it may not be so funny if you are the one gorging on baby food. But hey, it’s all in good fun.

This game is played with teams of two. One person gets blind folded and attempts to feed the other person.

The pleasure of this game is two-fold: watching someone attempt to find the other person’s mouth, and hopefully missing, and then watching the brave eater attempt to swallow baby food.

Prize idea: Gift card to a local grocery store.

4: Guess the Guest

This is a difficult but unique game. 

When guests RSVP to the shower, ask them to also send you a picture of themselves as a baby. 

As guests arrive to the shower, they try to match one baby picture, with one guest. 

Most matches, wins.

Prize idea: Gift card to a photo website like Shutterfly.

5: Stringing Them Along

OK, we’re cheating. This isn’t really a game, but it could be, and it is adorable.

Ask all your guest to bring an Add-A-Pearl to the shower. Tell the mom-to-be that she can keep adding pearls for special occasions and milestones until one day her daughter will have a whole strand of pearls that was started for her before she was even born. It’ll become a keepsake she’ll cherish forever.

Prize idea: A piece of pearl jewelry, obviously.

   

 

By Alyssa Groh, 22CM Boost

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photo of Cadence c/o Lindsey Risdon Bales

"When I found out I was pregnant with our daughter, I had several friends suggest the Add A Pearl idea. She will be 3 in November and we have gotten her a pearl for each birthday and other big milestones.

In June of 2017, I found out we were expecting another baby. Unfortunately, in February of this year, we received the devastating news that her heart had quit beating at 39 weeks and 4 days, just 3 days before my due date. This loss has been heartbreaking in so many ways and we have purchased a pearl for our living daughter, from her baby sister. Albeit an incredibly sad memory, she is a very proud big sister and we wanted to include her in her precious necklace. At 3 Years Old, she doesn’t understand the significance of the loss or of the necklace, but I know that when she is older, she will cherish each of those pearls... especially the one from her little sister."

written by: Lindsey Risdon Bales

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I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to have kids. I ached to be a mother and dreamed of having a daughter. My hope ebbed and flowed over the years; wavering some days then firey and solid the next, fading to only a shadow on others. My husband never wavered. His hope was an anchor firm in the ground, unmoving. It was never a question for him.

Six years ago my beautiful miracle girl was born. She is every hope fulfilled and every dream come true. We have danced and laughed and taught and cried our way through her infancy and toddlerhood, and now she is running. Running into this life at full speed with such vibrancy and life that her dad and I just look at each other in amazement. When she finished Kindergarten this summer we wanted a physical way to commentate these passing years. So she put on her twirliest pink dress and tiniest bit of blush and we took her to dinner to celebrate. She opened her pearl necklace and said, “A real jewelry!” She is so over the moon to add pearls each time and we love that we will finish it for her high school graduation.

Each time I order a pearl I can’t help but think about her name meaning. Emma means whole and complete. Our prayer over her life is that she will feel whole and complete in every season. And what a special way to mark those seasons until her necklace is also whole and complete.

written by: Amy Ekis

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Pearls’ beauty is in the eye of the beholder — and these 5 characteristics

Pearls here, pearls there, pearls everywhere. Cultured pearls, natural pearls; freshwater pearls, saltwater pearls. 

When does it end? (hopefully never!)

Pearls are popular. But all the quantity can make it difficult to determine the quality.

Depending on how you are planning to use your pearls, you are going to want the highest quality for your dollar.

We’re here to help you figure out what you’re looking for:

LUSTER

Luster is the most important and the easiest way to determine the quality of a pearl. 

What is luster? It’s the shine or glow of the reflection of light diffusing through layers of nacre as it hits the pearl. High luster tends to make a pearl more valuable. Good quality pearls should have a bright reflective luster, not dull. 

When you look at the pearl, the clearer the image the better. If you have a mirrored image, you know the pearl is of high quality — and not just because of your pretty reflection.

SURFACE

This is another easy way to figure pearl quality. 

The highest-quality pearls will have an immaculate surface free of scratches, spots and imperfections. 

Note that it is nearly impossible to find a pearl with zero imperfections. As the pearl grows, the oyster will naturally leave some type of mark on the pearl so tiny irregularities are acceptable and often helpful as a test of authenticity.

The number of imperfections — such as scratches, cracks and spots — determines value. The less marks on the pearl the higher the value. 

SHAPE

Pearls are stereotypically round. How round? Well, that matters!

The more round the pearl the higher the quality it is. 

Perfectly round natural pearls are the rarest.

COLOR

The color of a pearl is important, but not as much as the above characteristics when it comes to quality.

Pearls come in just about every color from white to green, blue, black and gray. The rarest color found in cultured pearls is the gold of the golden South Sea Pearl.  Color is more of a matter of personal preference.

NACRE

nacre is the substance pearls are made of. it is the crystalline substance secreted by an oyster or mollusk that builds up around a small bead or piece of mantle tissue that has been implanted dusing the cultivation process. The thicker the nacre, generally the more durable the pearl.

SIZE

A pearls is measured across its diameter, and a natural pearl typically ranges from 1.8 to 6 millimeters while a cultured pearl ranges from 3 to 18 (whoa!) millimeters. The size of a pearl depends on several factors such as the species of the mollusk or oyster, cultivation time periods, and the size of the nucleus.

Using size to determine the value of a pearl can be difficult. Usually, all other value factors being equal, the larger pearls are the rarer and more valuable; however, there are times when a small pearl can be as valuable. Similarly a large pearl can have many imperfections and be of low quality.

So, if you have looked all characteristics to determine the quality of a pearl, note the size. If all other characteristics line up, the size of the pearl may determine its value.

MATCHING OR COHERENCE

Each pearl is unique. In order to create jewelry or strand of pearls, pearls that complement or match each other are selected in a process that can take years. Thousands of pearls must be sorted and evalauted to find the desired combination. When  results are achieved, the necklace is determined to be an ideal blend as a whole strand. In other words, it has coherence and balance. The pearls match.

 

 

-- By Alyssa Groh, 22CM Boost

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Having trouble thinking of a perfect baby gift for your friends/family? Here’s just a few ideas to inspire you!

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Give your favorite childhood book, or your own child’s favorite.

BIRTH OR NEWBORN PHOTO SESSION

Relating to our blog two posts ago, newborn photo sessions can be pricey for parents. However, capturing these early moments will be cherished forever. This gift is sure to please any new parents as they will always be able to look back at these first magical few days. Check with your favorite photographer. Many offer easy ways to gift photo sessions either by pre-pay or gift certificates which can be purchased online and emailed to the new parents.

MEANINGFUL JEWELRY

Jewelry is always used to symbolize significant life moments so we picked a few favorite ideas to symbolize a newborn’s birth.

A necklace with the charm being the birth stone of the month the baby is born.

A single pearl Add-A-Pearl necklace to mark the first milestone of her life, her birth.

A bracelet that has the baby’s first recorded heartbeat imprinted into the charm.

HANDMADE QUILT OR BLANKET

Every child has that one blanket or stuffed animal they can never sleep without. Make it even more special by making the blanket yourself for the baby so when they grow up they know how much love and care went into making their “blankie.”

Another idea for this “homemade” blanket gift is to make a t-shirt quilt. This gift would be made after the baby’s first few months and with advance notice. Ask the baby’s mother for the newborn shirts or onesies that the child has out-grown and sew them together for a beautiful customized quilt! And when he/she grows up they can have this wonderful keepsake created from clothes they used to wear!

MEALS FOR A MONTH

A great group gift idea is to plan out the new family’s meals for a month. Each person in the group can take turns making dinner for the family for the first month that the baby is born. This takes some of the stress off the new parents when trying to figure out how to balance time for meals with raising their newborn.

FINGERPRINT ART

Use the baby’s fingerprint, handprint or footprint to create a beautiful piece of artwork to hang in the baby’s nursery.

For this blog we interviewed a mother and heard her story of the best gift that she received after giving birth.

“When I gave birth to my third baby not everything went as smoothly as my first two deliveries. That being said, the first two deliveries were by no means easy. Anyways, after she was born the nurses took her away as any normal birth but when they came back they told us there was a problem with her blood. Naturally, I freaked out. I remember the nurses poking my precious daughter with needles on her foot to figure out what was wrong. I still have that image in my mind, of my baby’s foot. When everything was settled and she was confirmed to be healthy, that was the image I told everyone. People asked and I always said, the picture of her foot. After telling one of my closest friends this story she used this to give me the best baby gift I ever received. She somehow managed to get her hands on my daughter’s foot and imprinted into a piece of clay. I know it isn’t the most unique of gifts, but to me it has a unique story which is why I love it so much.”

Hopefully we were able to provide some ideas for getting the best baby gift for your loved ones!

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Pearls are categorized and sorted based on 7 value factors: size, shape, color, nacre, luster, orient and surface quality. Nacre and luster are the most important indicators of quality; however, most people do not understand what nacre is. Nacre is the hard, iridescent coating that oysters (and some mollusks) use to line the inside of their shells. Nacre is also what pearls are made of.

Nacre quality is evaluated by examining layer thickness and layer density. Since the average person is usually not able to determine nacre quality, the most important factor to understand is luster, which can be easily seen by the naked eye.

Pearls with high luster have a mirror-like sheen which sharply reflects images around them. High luster pearls exhibit a deep inner glow along with a brilliant display of various surface colors known as orient that is highly prized in high quality pearls. Low quality pearls are more commonly dull, chalky and lifeless.

Luster relates to the reflection and refraction of light as it passes through layers of aragonite platelet crystals that form the nacre of a cultured pearl. The intensity is determined not only by the amount of crystals but also the specific geometric pattern and regularity in which that are secreted on the nucleus by the mollusk.

Several factors affect nacre secretion, determining the intensity of luster. The health of the oyster, water temperature and the amount of nutrients available to the oyster all play a crucial role in the formation of a pearl with exceptional luster.

It is commonly believed that the intensity of a pearl’s luster can be an indicator of nacre thickness and determinant of the durability of a pearl. This correlation is not always true. Cultured pearls with very thick nacre combined with poor density will result in mediocre luster which is more a result of the arrangement of aragonite platelets. Platelets formed in warmer waters have a more loosely structured formation which are unable to refract and reflect light as well as the tightly packed platelets found in higher density nacre. The waters in which the Japanese Akoya oysters are farmed are much less polluted and subject to broader seasonal changes in water temperature. Pearls cultivated in colder waters are formed with a more tightly packed crystalline structure because the cold water slows down the nacre secretion process reducing the size of aragonite platelets and producing tighter more densely packed nacre layers. Japanese Akoya saltwater pearl farmers conduct their harvest only once a year in the freezing winter weather to ensure the cold-water pearl coating is at its optimum. Ideal temperatures and minimal pollution produces fine quality pearls with a mirror-like luster such as the Japanese Akoya Saltwater pearls.

Nacre’s iridescence is caused by aragonite, a calcium carbonate material. Layers of aragonite stuck together at nearly the same distance as wave lengths of visible light, cause different colors of light to be reflected from different viewpoints. If nacre is thick but not highly translucent, uniform or well aligned, it’s not high quality. It might be durable but it will lack superior luster.

Nacre density is a result of the formation of aragonite platelets. Platelets which have been loosely formed cannot reflect and refract light as well as tightly packed platelets. Pearls cultivated in warm waters tend to have a more loosely packed platelet structure than pearls cultivated in colder waters such as the Akoya pearls used in all Add-A-Pearl Necklaces.

Pearl bearing mollusks are sensitive and their stability is easily upset. They produce the highest quality pearls when their environments are stress-free and with minimal pollution. Pearl farmers strive to create and maintain those circumstances for their mollusks because they know the payoff is better quality pearls.

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