Not only are pearls the official birthstone for June, but they are also the recognized celebratory gemstone for the 3rd and 30th anniversaries.
Pearls are the only gemstones in the world that are extracted from living animals. A pearl is formed when an irritant, such as a grain of sand enters an oyster, causing the oyster to secrete a protective substance called nacre which forms a multitude of layers around the irritant until a pearl is formed.
Most of the pearls found in jewelry are cultured, which means that an irritant is purposely placed in an oyster or mollusk to ensure pearl production. Natural pearls are extremely hard to find.
In 1916, Jacques Cartier purchased his famous 5th Avenue store with two very exquisite pearl necklaces.
Whereas Akoya pearls come from oysters, freshwater pearls are formed from mussels.
The oldest pearl necklace ever found dates back to 520BC. It was found in the sarcophagus of an ancient Persian princess. The necklace, known as the Susa necklace features 3 rows of 72 pearls each held together with spacer bars and now resides in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Susa Necklace- Photo Source: karipearls.com
Pearl is considered the gemstone of lovers. It is said that the lovelorn would put pearls in their potions to make others fall in love with them.
Most cultured saltwater pearls are produced in Japan. Three Japanese men initially discovered the secret of culturing pearls in the early 1900s and have perfected the process, allowing the Japenese to become the world’s most trusted source for cultured pearls.
Mikimoto, who is one of the men credited to discovering the cultured pearl process is reputed to have swallowed two pearls every day from when he was 20 up until his death at the age of 96. Pearls are believed to have several health benefits and have actually been used medicinally by the Chinese for thousands of years.
Mikimoto Kokicki pictured on the right.
The quality of pearls is determined by their size, shape, surface, luster, and color.
Pearls are found in a variety of different colors. Natural pearl colors include white, pink, lilac, cream, grey, black, and gold. Their color comes from the inner elements of the shells.
The names Margaret, Marjorie, Gretchen, Greta, and Rita all originated from the word “Margarita,” which means pearl.
No two pearls are exactly alike. All pearls have some sort of imperfection, making each one unique.
Pearls are believed to protect innocence and symbolize purity. This is just one reason why pearl jewelry is commonly worn by brides during weddings.
It’s reported that Cleopatra once made a bet with Mark Antony that she could consume the wealth of an entire nation in one meal. She ended up winning the bet by dissolving a single pearl in a glass of wine and drank it.
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