Pearls are the birthstone of June and have long been associated with purity, sincerity and prosperity.
Their beautiful glow and reflection are known as their lustre. Shape and size-wise, traditionally, the roundest pearls were perceived as most attractive. Now we are embracing stunning organic baroque shapes and the tiniest seed pearls.
Pearls are an organic gem that grows inside oysters and mussels.
Natural pearls (which are very rare) occur when an irritant enters the shell, and the mollusc secretes a substance called nacre around it. This might be a piece of sand or a parasite.
Cultured pearls are created the same way, but instead, humans intervene to insert the irritant. Cultured pearls are raised in pearl farms in very clean water in oceans, lakes and rivers, depending on the type of pearl being created.
Some of the types of pearls you may come across:
Akoya Pearls: grown in saltwater predominantly in Japan and China.
South Sea Pearls: farmed off the northern coast of Australia up to Indonesia and the south coast of Southeast Asia and the Philippines.
Tahitian Pearls: Farmed in French Polynesia.
Freshwater Pearls: The majority are grown in China
A quick note on colour:
Freshwater pearls naturally come in cream, pink, peach and lilac tones whilst grey is a dyed colour.
How to look after your pearls:
Pearls are relatively soft and can scratch quite easily. So it is best to keep them away from other gemstones and jewellery to avoid scratching.
Always put perfume and make-up on before wearing pearl jewellery and use a soft damp cloth to clean them after wearing.