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Real pearls are affordable in alternative forms


It's coming up on June, a month of weddings, graduations and birthday celebrations. Pearls have long been a traditional gift to mark these passages.

Real pearls can be had at reasonable prices. Consider alternatives to a perfectly matched 6 millimeter strand.

Simon Marley, owner and designer of Marley Gallery of Contemporary Jewelry offers these suggestions for choosing and caring for the glowing presents.

* Baroque pearls are "off-round" cultured pearls that are not jTC symmetrical; they may have an uneven surface and tiny tails like teardrops. Some people see these irregularities as a sign of character rather than flaws. Baroque pearls often have rich color and luster that may be lack ing in a uniform strand.

* Blister mobe pearls have grown into the inside wall of the oyster shell. They can be cut into a variety of shapes and set into earrings, rings or pins.

* In addition to shape, color affects the price of pearls. Silver and rose tints are the most desirable because they flatter most skin tones. Luminous gray pearls from the South Pacific are considered a rarity and are more expensive.

* To give your pearls a long and happy life, keep them separate from other jewelry. This helps to avoid scratches and chips.

* Makeup, perfume and other impurities can wear away the luster of pearls over time. If they are worn more than once a month, they will need to be cleaned and restrung every two to three years.

Manicure sans marks

Women with job and family to manage often short-change themselves on a beauty regimen. Talk in the office shows a pattern: Sunday night seems to be the preferred time for major grooming. With supper chores done and children bathed and bedded, women try to schedule a do-it-yourself manicure somewhere between "60 Minutes" and sleep. The problem is that sleep often arrives before the nail polish is dry, which results in smears and impressions of percale sheets on the nail polish surface. Quick Set Nail Dry, by the Max Factor company, solves the problem. The clear liquid, painted over the polish surface, cuts drying time in half. Suggested price is $3.75 at drugstores and cosmetics outlets. And a bottle seems to last forever.

Before the sun gets in your eyes

The new stadium at Camden Yards is the place to be seen these days and the hot fashion ticket to be seen in is a baseball cap. Combine the two and you have a fashion statement. Orioles paraphernalia can be found all over Charm City, but Herb's at 1038 Light St. in Federal Hill has Orioles hats of a different feather.

Remember the white front caps sporting a bird with a silly grin? Well Herb Rosenberg still has a limited selection of the old hats. They were not a big hit in their day, but at $2 a pop they are worth a smile.

Herb's also has black caps with the "regular" bird for $3 and Orioles sun visors for a buck. How about them prices?

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