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Pearl Birthstone Facts

Updated on January 1, 2011

How Pearls are Formed

Pearl is the only gem created by a living creature and they have been worn for thousands of years. As an organic gem, pearls are found inside mollusks such as mussels and oysters. Pearls are formed when a bit of sands, tiny stones or other irritants get inside the shell of mollusk, nacre (a lustrous substance) is secreted around the objects in order to protect the mollusk's internal surface. A pearl is formed when this irritant is covered by layers of nacre and the process of building a solid pearl can take up to about 7 to 8 years.

Necklace Pearl

Necklace Pearl
Necklace Pearl

Types of Pearls

The most sought and valuable pearls are symmetrical, naturally produced and have a shimmering iridescence called as orient luster. Cultured pearls are made when a substance is inserted by human into a living oyster. Cultured pearls are now account for over 90% of the world’s production. Before the creation of cultured pearls, natural pearls were very expensive because they were rare. Only the Royalty and the very rich and well-connected people can have them. Today, natural pearls is preferred only by a few Middle Eastern countries. Japanese pearls come mainly from near the coast in salt water, whereas Chinese pearls are found from freshwater ponds and rivers. Pearls are very sensitive to acids, extreme heat, humidity and dryness. They have to be protected from extreme wear and care should be taken when storing them.

For thousand of years, natural pearls have been harvested from the Gulf of Manaar (Indian Ocean), Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea. Cultured pearls are found from the coast of Polynesia and Australia. Saltwater and freshwater pearls are both cultivated in China and Japan. Freshwater pearls occur in the river of Scotland, France, Ireland, Austria, USA (Mississippi) and Germany.

Pearl Gemstone Meaning

Pearl is June birthstone and it is also the lucky stone for the sun signs of Cancer and Gemini. Historically these beautiful gemstones have been the symbol of affection, happiness, generosity and love. It represents pureness and wisdom. It is said that in order to prove her love to Marc Anthony, Cleopatra dissolved a pearl in wine and drank it. La Peregrina is one of the most popular pearl with the size of a pigeon’s egg that was found in America. Famous owners of this pear shaped pearl included Mary Tudor of England, Philip II of Spain, Napoleon III and the last owner is said to be Elizabeth Taylor.

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