Pearls have been admired for their natural beauty and lustrous shine for thousands of years, earning them a coveted spot as one of the June birthstones.
Pearls, both natural and cultured, are among the most beloved gems of all time. From creamy white to a dazzling array of hues, the spectrum of color these gems offer is truly remarkable. Whether you’re looking for an elegant white pearl to complete a classic look or a vibrant shade to add a pop of color to your ensemble, there’s a pearl for everyone.
But their significance goes far beyond mere aesthetics. In this article, we’ll explore the history of this gemstone, its significance in ancient civilizations and mythology, as well as how to care for your pearl jewelry.
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How are Pearls Made?
Throughout history, pearls have been praised for their unique, unparalleled beauty. But where do these gems come from, and how are they created? The origins of pearls can be traced back thousands of years to the depths of the ocean. Pearls are created by oysters, mollusks, and other shelled creatures that live in the sea. When an irritant or parasite enters the shell of an oyster, the animal creates a protective layer of nacre around the object, which eventually forms into a pearl.
The process of creating a pearl is a delicate and time-consuming task. It can take several years for a pearl to form, and many may never reach the size or quality desired by pearl enthusiasts. For centuries, pearl divers would venture into the ocean to collect oysters, risking their lives to bring this precious gemstone to the surface. Today, pearls are primarily harvested from farms, where controlled conditions allow producers to cultivate and harvest pearls with greater efficiency and consistency.
Despite the challenges of pearl production, the beauty and significance of pearls have persisted throughout history – so much so that the market is full of increasingly convincing fake or imitation pearls.
Pearl Birthstone History
Pearls were highly prized by ancient civilizations. The ancient peoples of the Middle East believed that pearls were a gift from the heavens, and the Chinese thought they came from dragon brains. The ancient Greeks viewed pearls as a symbol of love and believed that they were created when the goddess Aphrodite emerged from the sea, while Christopher Columbus and his companions believed that mollusks fashioned pearls from dewdrops, a reminder of the divine beauty of nature.
In India, pearls were associated with wealth and power, and they were often used to decorate the thrones of kings and queens. The Romans used pearls as a symbol of status, and they were frequently worn by the wealthy and nobility.
Across all cultures pearls have radiated a timeless beauty that has captivated admirers for generations. These luminous gems are a reminder that even in the darkest of times, we can still find light and hope.
Pearl Birthstone Meaning
A pearl is the beautiful result of an oyster’s response to stress. An irritating piece of grit coated in layer after layer of nacre until it can no longer harm its host.
Just like its nacre protects the oyster, pearl calms and soothes negative emotions bringing positive, uplifting feelings.
Pearl is a beacon of light during difficult times, illuminating the true self to rise above misfortunes
Pearl birthstone Properties
Pearls are composed of calcium carbonate in minute crystalline form, formed within the folds of an oyster. One of the most delicate gems used in jewelry, pearls have a Mohs rating of only 2.5-3 and as such should be treated more delicately.
Most pearls on the market today are cultured pearls – created by deliberately introducing a foreign object into an oyster and then later harvesting it after it has been coated in nacre. Not to be confused with imitation pearls, these cultured pearls are real, like growing a strawberry in a garden rather than happening upon one in the woods.
Pearl birthstone Care
Due to their more delicate nature, pearls require some special care. Their lustrous surface can be damaged by abrasion and chemicals so it’s important to put them on after you’ve applied perfume, lotion, etc. to avoid getting any on your pearls.
After each time you wear your pearls, wipe them off with a soft, slightly damp cloth and store them in a breathable pouch away from other metal or gemstone jewelry. Your pearls need to breathe so don’t store them in plastic bags that can damage their surface.