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1913 East Locust Street
Davenport, IA, 52803
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Expressions Jewelers specializes in creating custom & handcrafted fine jewelry and showcasing curated collections from designers around the world.


Expressions Jewelers | Blog

The Expressions Jewelers Blog will help you discover custom designs, jewelry trends, gift ideas, care tips, and more for your jewelry collection (or the collector in your life).

Filtering by Tag: bridal jewelry

How to Shop: Pearls

Mary Van Buer

The first image that comes to mind when a client begins talking about pearls is Holly Golightly enjoying her coffee and croissant in front of NYC’s Tiffany & Co. Audrey Hepburn’s character is wearing a ravishing black Givenchy gown with strands of pearl stacked around her neck, fastened with an extraordinary broach.

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's

That iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s scene did for pearl what James Bond did for Martinis.

Pearl bracelet

For centuries pearls have been prized for their mystifying powers and folklore. Legends surrounding the pearl come from around the world. In Ancient Greece pearls were held to be tears of the gods, while early Chinese civilizations believed that pearls were carried by dragons.

Regardless of mythology, pearls are truly a special creation. This gem is the only one made by an organism. Mollusks produce pearls where an irritant (parasite, seed, grain of sand) enters its body. As a form of protection, the mollusk deposits layers of nacre over the intruder, thus creating a pearl.

Natural pearls that are uniform in shape and color are extremely rare and very expensive. The majority of pearls in today’s market are cultured. They are cultivated by artificially implanting a bead or a grafted piece of shell into a pearl-producing mollusk.

The cultured pearl market includes a variety of types. Here’s a little info to help you sort through the options and learn what to look for.

Cultured Pearls


Strand of akoya pearls

Used in our best-selling pearl jewelry, akoya pearls refer to cultured saltwater pearls primarily coming from Japan and China. Sizes range from 2mm to 10mm, with the most popular sizes being between 5.5mm and 7.5mm. A white or cream body color is most common, although akoya pearls can be seen in natural yellow, gray, and blue as well.

South Sea

South Sea Pearls

South Sea pearls are admired for their large size. These cultured saltwater pearls hail from Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. They range in size from 8mm to 15mm and are available in many colors, though most south sea pearls are white to golden in color.


Tahitian Pearls

Sometimes referred to as black pearls, Tahitian pearls occur in a wide range of colors. Black is the most familiar, but shimmering white, gray, purple, green hues are stunning. The typical size of these pearls ranges from 8mm to 14mm, and sometimes even larger.


Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater pearls are just that, pearls cultivated in freshwater. These pearls are plentiful and available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and are often dyed green, blue, brown, pink, purple or black. China is the top freshwater pearl producer in the world, though Japan and the United States have small production as well.


Mabé Pearl

Mabé pearls are quite different from the other varieties listed. These blister pearls are formed on the inside of the mollusk shell rather than the body. This formation creates a flat side on the pearl allowing for a secure setting in jewelry.


Selecting Pearls

Shopping for pearl jewelry

Once you’ve decided the variety, size, shape, and color of your pearl jewelry, it’s time to start shopping!

As with any piece of jewelry there are value factors to consider. Pearl value factures are distinct from other gems stones because of their organic nature.

Size, shape, and color are always personal considerations and should be determined based on your preference. Your professions jeweler will be able to guide you in selecting pieces.

Luster is often the most important value facture when selecting cultured pearls. The term refers to the light reflected on the surface of the pearl described by its intensity and sharpness. Luster identifies the remarkable from the ordinary and bright from the dim. Look for sharp reflections of light on the pearl’s surface.

Like anything in nature, pearls (natural or cultured) have some blemishes. The presence or absence of these irregularities are considered the complexion of the pearl. Taking note of the pearl’s surface, observe any variations such as spots, pits, bumps, or abrasions.

If you are looking for a classic strand of pearls, matching is a very important value facture. Pearls that are perfectly matched in size, shape, and color and hard to come by and it is reflected in the price. Still, you want a strand that appears uniform in all these factors. Make sure to judge the consistency across the full strand.

Pearl Care & Cleaning

Perhaps the most important information to know about pearl jewelry is how to care for it, as pearls are much more delicate that most gems. They are very soft, ranging between 2.5 and 4.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness and require special attention.

Pearl jewelry care and cleaning

Because of their nature, pearls are vulnerable to chemicals found in many toiletries and household cleaners. Make sure to remove your jewelry before applying cosmetics, perfume, and hairspray; additionally, do not wear your jewelry in chlorinated pools or hot tubs. To avoid damage or loss it is wise to remove jewelry before doing dishes, gardening, or exercising.

Cleaning should be done as-needed only and never with an ultrasonic or steam cleaner. Gently clean your pearls by wiping with a soft, lint-free cloth dipped in warm water using a non-detergent soap. Wipe each pearl individually. Then rinse the cloth and wipe the pearls with clean water. Be mindful not to submerge a strand in water as it can weaken the thread on which the pearls are strung.

Your strand may need to be restrung periodically. Even gently-worn pearls can loosen over time. Have your jeweler check the knots (they should be tight with no slack between the pearls) and clasp.

Store your pearls in a soft folder or pouch to keep them separated from other jewelry, as harder materials can abrade the pearl’s surface. Avoid tangled strands by clasping pieces and storing separately. Also, pearls can dehydrate if stored for too long, so get them out of your safety deposit box and enjoy them!

akoya pearl earrings

Traditionally pearl jewelry makes a brilliant gift for June birthdays and 30th wedding anniversary. The gemstone is known for its calming properties and represents purity and innocence which is why it is often worn by brides on their wedding day.

Whatever the occasion that puts you on your pearl journey, you now have some information to begin. As always, consult you trusted jeweler to help select a piece and contact us with any questions you have.


The Alluring Oval

Mary Van Buer

Oval stones complete Pinterest’s top engagement ring looks from their 2018 Wedding Trends: Sweet and Simple report. The fancy shape took the #3 spot on the social site’s list with a 125% increase in popularity over last year.

Read about the #1 & #2 trends: Moissanite and Art Deco.

In recent years the oval brilliant diamond has risen in demand, and according to Town & Country magazine, is ranked 6th in popularity with American consumers in 2016 (round diamonds were still no. 1).

The fire and brilliance of an oval diamond emulates that of a round with a bit of a twist. Its elegant elongated shape conjures sophistication and intrigue.

There is nothing revolutionary about ovals. The shape has always been used in jewelry; however, it wasn’t until the mid-1950s that the modern oval brilliant cut diamond garnered mass appeal.

Celebrity Ovals

Many of the rich and famous have opted for the opulent oval.

Blake Lively wears a twelve-carat pink oval diamond from her actor husband, Ryan Reynolds. The stunning Lorraine Schwartz ring is rose gold with a micro-pavé diamond band.

Julianne Hough also sports a Lorraine Schwartz design with her six-carat oval diamond engagement ring. Hough’s fiancé Brooke Laich proposed at their home with the elegant ring, which also features their initials and a heart in diamonds on the back.

Before her breakup with Seal, Heidi Klum wore an approximately ten-carat fancy yellow oval brilliant cut diamond. Another Lorraine Schwartz piece, the ring was made in yellow gold and accented with smaller yellow diamonds.

Buying an Oval

If you are looking to purchase an oval brilliant cut diamond for yourself or another, there are a few things to consider. If you are familiar with The Four C’s of Diamonds, that’s a great start. The same factors are used to evaluate the carat weight, clarity, and color for oval diamonds as with round brilliants and can help with your search.

Considering the cut of an oval diamond is very personal. A 2009 survey conducted by Gemological Institute of America found that consumer and trade professionals prefer a longer, narrower oval shape. It showed the most popular length-to-width ratio was 1.7:1. It is challenging to find oval diamond cut to this proportion because of the shape of the diamond rough, so most ovals are cut to 1.3:1 or 1.4:1 ratio.

While the proportion of an oval diamond is often a personal decision, the symmetry is objective. Poor symmetry in a stone will result in a dull and unappealing stone. Draw an imaginary line vertically along the length of the diamond and view each side – do the facet patterns mirror each other? Do the same across the diamond’s width. The outline of an oval diamond has a large impact on the beauty of the stone as well. Look for minimal variations such as an uneven outline.

Look for the bow-tie. The bow-tie effect is unique to elongated brilliant shapes – oval, marquise, and pear. Since a diamond is cut to act as a collection of mirrors, reflecting as much light as possible, it also reflects shadows. The bow-tie often seen in these diamonds are a reflection of the shadow from the viewer (you). Look for an oval diamond that is well cut and has a minimal bow-tie. It is helpful to be able to compare a few stones side-by-side.

If you are looking to create a piece that is enduring and unforgettable, an oval might be for you. Start your search for the perfect diamond and browse our selection. Ready to shop? Book an appointment with one of our trained associates.

The Influence of Art Deco

Mary Van Buer

We've been reviewing Pinterest's result from their 2018 Wedding Trends: Sweet and Simple report. The top engagement ring trends are Moissanite, Art Deco, and Oval shapes based on increased in "pins" over the previous year. Art Deco takes the second spot on Pinterest’s list with a 173% increase in popularity.

Art Deco describes a style of art and design that appeared just before the first World War and dominated designs from the early 1920s through the 1930s. This era influenced everything from building concepts to appliances to jewelry.

The title "arts décoratifs" came into use in 1875 to describe designers of textiles, furniture, and other decorations; however it wasn’t until 1925 during Paris’s decorative arts exhibition, Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industrials Modernes, that the term “art deco” became widely use to describe the modern styles of the era. The designs that arose featured geometric and linear patterns that marked modern industry.

Art Deco inspiration began in Europe and quickly exploded in American, then across the world.

Completed in 1930, the Chrysler Building in New York City is one of several sky-scrappers of the time. From the lobby, to the elevators, to the distinctive crown - the seventy-seven-story building is considered a paragon of art deco architecture and design.

The Chrysler Building - Carol M. Highsmith's America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Elevators inside the Chrysler Building - Elisa.rolle (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The iconic Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro is a soapstone sculpture constructed between 1922 and 1931. It was created by a French sculptor and built with assistance from a Brazilian engineer, and French engineer, and a Romanian sculptor. The Art Deco influence can bee seen in the sculpture’s vertical lines and contrasting pedestal.

Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - By Nico Kaiser (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Jewelry was a large part of the Art Deco movement. During this period prominent jewelry designers began to showcase common elements of this age: strong geometric shapes and patterns, contrasting colors, and vertical lines.

Art Deco chandelier earrings made with platinum, emeralds, sapphires, and diamonds. - By

Geometric diamond and emerald bracelet - by Robert Weldon/GIA

In a departure from the diamond-dominated styles of the Art Nouveau and Edwardian eras, the use of colored gemstones like sapphire, emerald, and ruby became prolific. Black onyx, lapis lazuli, jade, turquoise, and topaz rose in popularity and were often carved or cut into cabochons.

This huge emerald is set in an art deco diamond and platinum pendant designed by Cartier. In 1931, Clarence Mackay gave the necklace as a wedding gift to his wife, Anna Case -- a prima donna at the New York Metropolitan Opera from 1909 to 1920. - By thisisbossi [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Additional materials were used including enamels and glass to create contrast in jewelry.

Art Deco buckle made of gold set with diamonds, lapis lazuli, jade, onyx and opal, from firm of Boucheron, Paris (1925) - By SiefkinDR (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Art Deco and Art Deco-inspired are the most-demanded of vintage engagement ring designs. Intricate settings in platinum and white gold reigned during this period. Accenting colored gemstones created the era’s signature contrast, and bold lines were prominent.

Old Mine Cut diamond set with emerald and diamond accents

Diamond ring with long baguette cut diamonds are milgrain detail

New Deco-inspired engagement ring from ever & ever

Feeling inspired by the styles of the Roaring Twenties? Art Deco jewelry is in high demand and vintage pieces are hard to come by, but not impossible. Put the word out to your favorite jewelers or dealers (did you know we have a selection of estate jewelry?). If you are looking for a specific design, many designers are replicating Art Deco jewelry. Book an appointment with us to start working on your Deco-inspired piece today!