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Pearls are the only gemstones made from living organisms. Only a few resilient types of mollusks can cultivate pearls—saltwater oysters, fresh water clams or mussels. The process starts within the mantle tissue of a mollusk once a foreign irritant has entered its protective shell. It then secretes nacre, which builds upon itself, layer by layer, surrounding the object. Overtime this process cultivates the valuable pearl bead. Cultured pearls, when rubbed against a tooth, have a slight gritty sensation, differentiating them from imitation pearls, which are smooth.

These gems are a symbol of fertility, sincerity, and spirituality. As a traditional gift for June birthdays, 3rd and 30th Anniversaries, pearls are a remarkable gift for any occasion. A strand of pearls is a classic coming of age gift for a young woman. The most feminine of gems, pearls come in many shapes, sizes, and beautiful colors. They can be round, pear, egg, and baroque shaped. Pearls also have a wide palette of hues, but the most popular varieties are white and cream. A pearl’s value is measured by its size, shape, color, luster, nacre, surface appearance and nacre quality. With a hardness of 2.5-4.5 Mohs, pearls should only be cleaned with a soft cloth and stored in a soft and smooth container when not worn.

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