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Pearl Gemstones

The pearl, unlike the other gemstones, originates from an organic or living source. Natural pearls are created by oysters or mollusks when an irritant enters their flesh. The creation of a pearl is the organism's response to an irritant.

When an irritant enters the oyster or mollusk, it's response is to cover the irritant with a substance called nacre or mother of pearl, and from this eventually a pearl is formed. Since this is not going to occur in every oyster or mollusk, finding natural pearls is rare, and of course not every pearl that is found would be of a shapeand size desirable for jewelry.

Natural pearls have always been rare, but they are probably even more rare today. A truly natural pearl today is more likely to find it's way into the hands of a collector, than into a pearl earring or pearl necklace.

The pearl also has the distinction of being the only gemstone that doesn't need to be cut and polished. Though many gemstones are worn by men and women alike in our modern times, the pearl is an exception, and is worn by women. This was not always the case. When the early settlers first came to America, wearing of fresh water pearls was not uncommon for the Native Americans, both male and female.

Determining Value of Pearls

The pearl is generally thought of as a white gem, but it occurs naturally in a variety of colors such as cream, gold tones, pink. gray and black. A pearl is valued on shape, size, lustre, the thickness of the nacre and surface smoothness. Of course, the rarer the color, the more valuable.

How Cultured Pearls Are Created

Most pearls available today, are cultured. A cultured pearl is created with a little help from man. In the cultured pearl industry, an irritant is implanted in the oyster by man. From there the process continues just as it would if the irritant had happened randomly in a natural way.

When pearls occur by natural means everything is random, thus producing pearls of different sizes and shapes, and not always desirable. In the culturing process the oysters are being monitored during the time it takes to produce a pearl and means are taken to provide the best conditions for health and survival, and the production of quality pearls. This means that many more pearls are produced that are of a desirable shape and size, making them more affordable.

Strands of pearls have become a classic, and are appropriate for both casual and more formal affairs.  The often quoted phrase "pearls of wisdom" may have originated from the ancient Chinese belief that pearls were formed in the brains of dragons.

In one pearl legend the moon is said to have bathed the ocean in it's light to attract oysters to the surface and be impregnated with heavenly dew. Over time the small drop of light would hold the heavenly radiance within it's heart and cover itself in a cloak of various colors and reflection that would blend and harmonize.

Pearls were a common adornment for Native Americans. Many tribes had stores of fresh water pearls, and they were also used for trade. Some of these pearls were given in trade to the first European explorers in this country and eventually became a heavily exported item back to Europe.

Pearls are the June birthstone, the traditional wedding month. And interestingly enough, pearls are often the adornment chosen by brides for their wedding.

Whether you are looking for wedding jewelry, or a simple string of pearls or a set of gold pearl & diamond earrings icon to be worn for many occasions, the introduction of the cultured pearl industry has made the price of pearls most affordable.

When not being worn, a pearl should be stored where it will not come in contact with other items that may scratch the nacre. Do not store in air tight container, or a sealed plastic bag. Wipe occasionally with a soft cloth.

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