Pearl is the birthstone for June, (Alexandrite is an alternative stone which we will cover in our ‘other gems’ section).
It is also the gem to celebrate a 30th wedding anniversary. These perfectly formed spheres are associated with the moon and symbolise peace and purity. This is the reason why they were given to brides on their wedding day.
Pearls are organic gems, grown inside oysters or mussels, it occurs when an irritant such as a grain of sand or a parasite gets inside the shell, the mollusk (oyster or mussel) starts to coat the irritant with a substance called ‘nacre’ layer upon layer to form a natural pearl. If done with human intervention these pearls are termed ‘cultured pearls’. The first culturing of pearls occurred hundreds of years ago.
Unfortunately, the years of overfishing has declined the number of natural pearls available, the cultured pearl is now the forefront and sold in stores today.
Pearls must be grown in clean, warm water, either in salt or freshwaters, this will enable the mollusk to produce pearls of good quality and high lustre.
Here are the names given to pearls and the region they are from;
Akoya Cultured; from Japan & China
South Sea Cultured; from the South Coast of Australia
Tahitian Cultured; from Gambier Island & Tuamotu Archipetago.
Freshware Cultured; from China.
Pearls occur in various colours from the classic white or cream, to hues of pink, through to the darker tones of purple, grey, silver & black.
History of Pearls
The history of pearls goes back many thousands of years, some of the earliest natural pearls were sourced from the Persian Gulf, the waters of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
These fine precious gems were gifted to Royalty and passed down from generation to generation.
Queen Elizabeth 1 was obsessed with these jewels from the sea, she draped herself in pearls, long lengths hung around her neck and bracelets wrapped around her wrists, they were sewn into her clothing, neck collars, hairpins & fans.
Her obsession was that great, that she solicited Francis Drake to raid the Spanis Fleet for pearls and to bring the ‘spoils’ back to her. This became known as ‘The Pearl Age’.
One of the most famous natural pearls is the ‘La Peregrina’ a drop-shaped pearl weighing 50.56ct. Discovered in the 1500s in the Gulf of Panama. This pearl was gifted to Elizabeth Taylor from Richard Burton in 1969. A necklace created by Cartier containing ‘La Peregrina’ was later sold at Christie’s New York in 2011 for $11.8 million.
Pearls are elegant & sophisticated and most of all ‘timeless’.