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Frequently Asked Questions

I'm concerned about my credit card information -- is this site safe to order online?

Pearl Guys is very concerned about cybercrime and making sure your credit card information is secure. Here are some of the things we do to make sure your credit card information is kept secret:

1. We use the highest level of encryption when sending credit card information over the Internet (128-bit or 256-bit SSL or Secure Socket Layer). You'll know your information will be secure if you see a closed lock on the bottom right corner of your web browser and the Address at the top of the browser starts with "https://". You can click on the lock to see if the encryption certificate is valid.

2. We have our own network center and maintain very strict physical and electronic security measures. We use enterprise-class firewalls and update our security software and virus scanning files daily.

3. We hire an outside company certified by Visa, MasterCard, and SANS/FBI to regularly try to hack into our systems. We are certified to be in compliance with the most recent security requirements of the credit card industry and are SANS / FBI Top 20 Vulnerability Test Compliant.

4. Our systems never see your credit card number. Your credit card information is encoded and sent to the credit card company for verification and processing. We therefore can never store your credit card number on our system so it is impossible for it to be stolen from us. The only bad thing about this practice is that you have to enter your credit card information each time you come back to Pearl Guys -- a small price to pay to know that when you do business with us, only you and the credit card company know your credit card number.

Can you send me a catalog?
Printing and mailing catalogs is very expensive. We want to keep our pearl prices low, so we rely on the Internet to present all of our products. Sorry, but we don't print catalogs

Why do you want my email address to register?
Pearl Guys uses your email address as a unique identifier for your account.  We also use it to send you confirmation that your order has been shipped (and a shipment tracking number), and to communicate with you about your order.  We will never sell, lend, or give your email address to anyone else, and we do not use it to send you advertisements.

What if I don't have an email address? We can still register you, but we won't be able to send you an email confirmation when your order ships.  If you don't have an email address, when registering use your first and last name together, then the @ symbol, and then pearlguys.com (johnsmith@pearlguys.com).  This is not a real email address, but it will serve as a unique identifier for your account.  If you get an error message that your email address is already registered, try putting a number after your name (johnsmith25@pearlguys.com).

How much do you charge for shipping?
All shipping and handling costs for deliveries to the U.S. are included in our prices. International deliveries will be charged a shipping and handling fee based on the size and weight of the package and the delivery location. After placing an order for delivery to an international address, you will be contacted, advised of the fee, and provided an opportunity to approve the order.

What are Freshwater Pearls?
Pearls are created by �bivalves�, or mollusks with two shell halves (like oysters, clams, and scallops). There are bivalves that live in saltwater (oceans) and freshwater (rivers and lakes). The process of creation is essentially the same in freshwater and saltwater, differing in technique and the species of the bivalve. Here's a link explaining bivalve anatomy: http://www.assateague.com/nt-bival.html

Are these real pearls?
These are honest-to-goodness real pearls made by nature's own little critters. They are, like virtually all pearls today, cultured pearls.

What is a �Cultured� pearl?
Bivalves create pearls all by themselves, but very rarely do they create a pearl beautiful enough for jewelry. The harvesting of bivalves for pearl collection is harmful to the species -- to obtain a single beautiful natural pearl in some species requires the harvesting of a million oysters. Harvesting of bivalves for pearls is outlawed in many countries.

Scientists have developed methods of culturing pearls from bivalves that involves a sterile surgical procedure to implant a pearl nucleus. The bivalves are very carefully tended to ensure they are healthy and clean, have sufficient food, and are moved to safer locations if the water temperature changes or if disease finds its way into their environment. Employing these farming procedures ensures that the bivalve population is never destroyed for the harvesting of pearls.

How does the bivalve make a pearl?
The inside of the bivalve's shells are made of nacre ( ). If a foreign object finds its way inside the bivalve, the bivalve will coat the object with nacre, so the pearl is essentially a nucleus of some object that the bivalve has coated in a protective layer of beautiful nacre. Nacre consists of calcium carbonate (a crystalline substance) and conchiolin (an organic protein that acts like glue).

What is a �Tahitian� pearl?
"Tahitian" pearls are cultured in the "Pinctada Margaratifara" or "Black Lipped Oyster". This mollusk excretes a dark nacre that creates the wonderful black and peacock colors exhibited in these pearls. Actually, the name "Tahitian" is a little misleading, because while these pearls may travel through Tahiti on their way to market, they are actually cultured in the lagoons of islands and atolls of the South Pacific near Tahiti. Real Tahitian Pearls (like we sell) are grown in salt water and are naturally dark. Some people may sell black pearls that are fresh or salt water pearls that have been dyed or radiated to change their color from off-white to black. Rest assured that our Tahitian pearls are the real thing from the black lipped oyster living in the South Pacific and their color is natural without any treatments.

Are freshwater and saltwater pearls the same?
The species of bivalves that live in these two environments are different, but nature's pearl-making process is the same. The big difference between cultured freshwater and saltwater pearls is in how the pearls are cultured. For saltwater pearls, the implanted nucleus is a finely machined mother-of-pearl bead while freshwater pearls are implanted with a tissue nucleus.

Mother-of-pearl beads are made from mollusk shells and are manufactured to precise standards in shapes and sizes as ordered by the pearl farmers. When implanted, the bivalve will coat this bead with nacre. For freshwater pearls, a nucleus of mollusk tissue is implanted instead of a bead, and over a period of 2 to 6 years the bivalve creates a pearl that is entirely nacre (the tissue is effectively replaced by nacre as the pearl grows).

How do you judge pearl quality?
You have probably heard of the "Four C's" to evaluate a diamond. Pearls can be judged by the "Four S's":

Size Like anything rare and beautiful, bigger is more rare and therefore more expensive.
Shape Shape is a matter of personal taste and fashion. Pearl shapes include round, oval, drop, button, and baroque. Designer shapes like crosses and squares are now being cultured using custom-shaped mother-of-pearl nuclei.
Shade Color is also a matter of taste and fashion, but richer more consistent color in a pearl is rarer and therefore more valuable.
Surface The surface finish and luster are the most important determinant of a pearl's value. The more even and lustrous a pearl's surface, the rarer and more expensive it will be. The deeper the color as reflected in the surface luster, the finer the pearl. Remember that pearls are created by nature, and should show at least slight variations in finish. This is what gives a pearl its personality, and proof of authenticity, and is the true display of nature's wonder.

Additionally, if you are buying a necklace or other piece of jewelry with more than one pearl, consider how well matched the pearls are to each other. Remember that some jewelry uses multiple colors or sizes, including graduated pearl size throughout a necklace.

What are Baroque pearls?
Baroque is a term relating to the shape of a pearl. Baroque pearls are non-symmetrical and are often found with �rings� or other abstract shapes. Baroque pearls can make a bold fashion statement and truly show off nature's artistic ability.

Caring For Your Pearls
Compared to your other gemstones and jewelry, pearls are much softer and more delicate. Don't be afraid to wear your pearls, but do take a few extra precautions to ensure decades of enjoyment from your pearls.

The application of hair spray and other cosmetics can damage pearls, so put your pearls on after your hair and makeup are done. Don't store your pearls directly with your other jewelry. Pearl Guys provides a silky pearl purse with its jewelry, and we encourage you to keep your pearls in this purse when you are not wearing them (our pearl purse is great for travel, too).

Do not use anything other than water and a very mild diluted soap solution to clean your pearls. Dry them with a soft clean cloth.

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