A jewellery exhibition by Al Futtaim offers the widest variety of diamonds, pearls and gemstones

A pearl's beauty is matched only by its mystique. For centuries, man has risked both life and life savings to possess it.

To its admirers it is pure and perfect, glowing and dazzling. Tabloid speaks to the experts to find out the truth behind the mystery that is the pearl.

Al Futtaim Jewellery is holding a Jewellery Extravaganza, which kicked off on Wednesday and runs for 18 days in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

The exhibition offers the widest variety of diamonds, pearls and gemstones along with three international jewellery specialists for expert advice, while displaying one of the world's largest pearls.

One of the world's biggest Baroque White South Sea pearls, which measures approximately 37x26mm and comes from Australia, will be on display throughout the event along with a 12.86 carat pear-shaped diamond.

Ashraf Al Hammuri, marketing manager at Al Futtaim Watches and Jewellery, said: "With coloured stones being very much in vogue, our gemstones expert will guide shoppers in choosing the right kind of stone be it cut, colour, clarity or carat weight.

"Our outlet has some unique diamond jewellery in exotic colours that include lemon green, green, orange, intense yellow, cape yellow, canary yellow, orange yellow and brown orange".

The exhibition showcases the single largest collection of certified loose diamonds from Belgium, a variety of pearls, and other precious gemstones under one roof.

Things to consider

When buying pearl jewellery, there are a few things to consider including colour, size, luster, surface and shape.

Pearl expert Nino Autore, who has worked in the pearl industry for more than 20 years and is the owner of the giant pearl on display at the exhibition, gives Tabloid readers some pointers.

Nino said: "When you are choosing colour, keep in mind that each type of pearl has a different colour.

"Akoya pearls are typically white or with rose undertones; freshwater pearls are usually white with rose undertones; South Sea pearls are white with silver or rose undertones, and Tahitian pearls are usually black with green or pink undertones.

"Colour preference depends on the person's skin tone and preference.

"Those who are fair would look best in light colours and those who are darker would look best in darker or golden pearls. Complement the woman's skin tone by buying the best looking pearl colour.

"The size of the pearls depends on the type of pearls. Freshwater pearls are typically the smallest with sizes ranging from 5 to 6.5mm.

"Akoya pearls are medium-sized, ranging from 6 to 8mm, and South Sea and Tahitian pearls are typically large. South Sea and Tahitian pearls are usually 11 to 13mm.

"When choosing a pearl size, think of the size of the person. If the woman is petite, she may look overpowered with large pearls and smaller pearls, such as Akoya pearls may look best.

"Lustre is the most important thing to consider when buying pearls as this shows the quality of the pearl.

"Lustre is the mirror-like finish on the surface of the pearl. A pearl is made up of layers of calcium carbonate called nacre.

"The larger the pearl, the more nacre, which makes the pearl more lustrous. South Sea and Tahitian pearls are more lustrous than a freshwater pearl because they are larger and have more nacre.

"GIA grades pearls from Fair to Excellent. When choosing a pearl necklace, look for grades Excellent to Good. Some stores have their own grading system of A to AAA, with AAA being the best. Be wary of stores with their own grading systems and make sure they are reputable.

"When looking at the lustre of a pearl necklace, check out the surfaces. There is rarely a perfect pearl with a smooth surface, but you can look for pearls that are near-perfect.

"Blemishes that may appear, but are non-damaging include spots, bumps, pits and wrinkles. Non-damaging surface marks can lower the price of the pearl. Damaging flaws include cracks, holes or chips. Those flaws may worsen or ruin the pearl.

"Also important when picking out a pearl is its shape. The favoured shape is perfectly round, but that is rare.

"Preferred shapes for a pearl necklace are round to mostly round. Freshwater pearls are mostly round to off-round. Find a pearl that is as near to round as you can find."

When choosing a necklace, keep in mind there are six types: collar, choker, princess, matinee, opera and rope.
Nino added: "The most important thing to remember is to get the lady to decide what she has her heart set on.

"Pearls will last through three generations so it is important that you select the right one as it will be around for many years."