Pearls are one of the Official Birthstones of the Month of June.
This shiny organic gem is formed within the mollusks of oysters and mussels when a tiny piece of sand gets inside the mollusks shell. The clams and mussels release a substance called nacre which is secreted around the sand in order to protect their internal surface. The grain of sand is coated over and over with the nacre and a pearl is formed. Pearls are the only gemstones to come from a living creature.
Mussels usually make freshwater pearls and oysters usually make saltwater pearls.
It is believed that only 1% of pearls used in jewelry are natural and almost all of the natural pearls have been harvested. 99% of pearls currently available are deemed to be cultivated rather than coming from a natural source. The first cultivated pearl was created back in 1896. These more symmetrical cultivated pearls became more popular and a more cost effective alternative to the natural pearls.
Pearls have a lot of meaning and healing properties associated with them. They are thought to offer power of protection, bring good luck, money, love and wisdom to the wearer. They are believed to make relationships closer and stronger and keep children safe.
The Greeks believed that wearing pearls would improve a marriage and in Chinese mythology, pearls were thought to fall from the sky when dragons fought each other.
The most famous pearl in the world is the La Peregrina, which means “The Incomparable”. This pear shaped pearl is the size of a pigeon’s egg weighing over 55 carats. It was found in the Americas in the 16th Century. This pearl has been owned by many famous people over the years, including Mary Tudor of England, Phillip II of Spain and Napoleon III. The last owner of this amazing pearl is said to be Elizabeth Taylor, her husband Richard Burton purchased it for her in 1969 for Valentine’s Day.