A buyer's guide to pearls: natural, cultured and imitation

Course Dates: 13/05/17
Time: 10:30 - 16:30
Location: KS - Keeley Street

Want some real pearls of wisdom? Join this fascinating one-day course for a valuable insight into pearls, their cultivation and trade, and use in jewellery. Learn how to recognise the many types on the market, judge the good from the bad, spot the imitations and buy your pearl jewellery with confidence.


What is the course about?

This one-day course will give you a valuable insight into the trade and culturing of pearls, exploring the many different varieties of pearls available on the market including the natural and the man-made. The course will teach you to assess and select pearls, and recognise imitations. There will be many images and samples of pearls and pearl-set jewellery to view as well as practical exercises.

What will we cover?

The course will cover the farming, culturing and grading/pricing of saltwater, freshwater and rare natural pearls. The topics will include the common shapes, lustre, colours, sizes and treatments (such as dyeing) of these organic gems. You will learn how to use a loupe to inspect pearls, and discover how to appraise, value, care for and use pearls in jewellery. We will also look at the common pearl simulants found in jewellery.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- use a loupe to look at pearls
- understand how the pearl trade operates and the difference between cultured and natural, saltwater and freshwater pearls
- understand the grading and pricing of pearls and the certifying bodies
- demonstrate awareness of the different pearl simulants that are on the market
- understand how different types of pearl have been used in jewellery over the last century.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The course is at beginner’s level and no experience is necessary. It is ideal for people who have an interest in organic gemstones and pearl-set jewellery, and would be a good ‘refresher’ for people who work in the jewellery trade.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course will take the form of a talk with many images and samples being shown to the students to illustrate the different topics. There will be plenty of time for students to ask questions. There will be detailed hand-outs for the students to take away. There is no work outside of the class.

About your tutor:

Judith Crowe

Since 2003 Judith has been running two companies - as a gemstone dealer and for making bespoke jewellery. She has a BA Hons degree in Fine Art and from 1985 she worked as a studio manager/designer in graphic design. In 1990 she broke her back horse riding and then worked as a broadcast journalist and TV director at the BBC Disability Programmes Unit. From 1999 Judith retrained in silversmithing at City Lit and she is now teaching short courses on gemmology and jewellery at the college. She has written a book, 'The Jeweller's Directory of Gemstones', published by Quarto. Her website is www.judthcrowe.co.uk


Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

There are no other costs, and you do not need to bring anything with you.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

City Lit runs a huge range of specialist jewellery courses to expand your knowledge and practical skills, from resin-casting to stone-setting, beading to diamonds, the 'Jewellery Tool School' or 'Treasures from Trash'. Browse the website or prospectus to get inspired.

General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Sorry, this course is now full

Course Code: VV660

Full Sat, day, 13 May - 13 May '17

Duration: 1 session

Full fee: £89.00
Senior fee: £89.00
Concession: £89.00
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Please note: Different fees may apply for international students. Read full guidance.