The birthstone for June is Pearl
Pearl: derives from the Latin word perna meaning leg. These beautiful organic gems are produced within molluscs (generally oysters or mussels) which have a pearly lining on the inside of their shell. There are two types of genuine pearls – natural and cultured.
Natural pearls are created inside a mollusc as a result of an accident of nature - an irritant by chance enters a mollusc and a pearl is formed around the irritant resulting in a gem of natural beauty. Unfortunately nowadays it is rare to find such natural pearl jewellery and as such, the majority of sea and freshwater pearls in the market are ‘cultured.’ These pearls have been formed with some help by man’s intervention whereby one inserts a bead into the oyster (or mussel) so that a pearl is produced. Each implanted mollusc secretes nacre around the ‘irritant’ continuously over time and which coats the bead and forms a pearl. Despite this forced method – the quality of these pearls can still be as spectacular as natural pearls, with large round pearls fetching huge prices nowadays.
Cultured sea pearls are grown in oysters and usually only one pearl is produced in the oyster’s lifetime as they are farmed in saltwater and are thus are more exposed to disease and nature’s elements. Freshwater pearls are grown in mussels and up to 50 pearls can be produced at a time in a single mussel thus creating a price difference.
What remains the same with both types of pearls, however, is the measure of quality:
· the rounder the pearl,
· the size of pearl,
· the lack of blemishes
· and finally the lustre
are all factors in how pearls are graded and valued. It can take up to years for a pearl farmer to produce one necklace of outstanding beauty as finding the same colour, size, shape and lustre pearls can be very difficult.
Pearls are a highly sought after gem and can become famous themselves - royalty has worn pearls throughout the years including Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II. Pearls of the Orient Online are pleased to see that the Duchess of Cambridge often wears classic pearl drops. It has been noted in history that Cleopatra dissolved a priceless pearl earring and drank it in order to impress her love – Anthony. In 1917, Cartier bought their building in New York with two strands of natural pearls valued at a million dollars. In 1957, the pearls were sold at auction for $157,000. And one cannot forget the extraordinary fashion icon – Coco Chanel – whose staple jewellery attire was rope upon rope of exquisite pearls.