For many, the simple allure of a pearl is often overlooked in favor of sparkling gemstones. However, there are millions of people who appreciate the beauty and unique quality of pearls. If you’re one of them, then you’re in luck as pearl’s are June’s birthstone. At this time of year you’ll have an abundance of options when choosing your favored style of pearls.
Pearls are available in a wide variety of prices. We see them on Rodeo Drive and we see them in Ross. What’s the difference? Size, shape, luster, and nacre thickness are all factors that determine the price of a pearl.
Here are some fun facts about birthstones and more specifically, about that lovely vintage pearl piece in your jewelry box that you may not have known:
Pearls are symbolic.
The earliest historical reference of wearing a specific gemstone in a given month may be found in the bible. This became a widespread practice amongst many cultures and continues today. Many consider gemstones to have mystical properties. Pearls may represent loyalty, friendship, and healing. There are those who go so far as to use a pearl’s antioxidants to aid blemishes and wrinkles. Beyond the metaphysical and healing properties is the enduring beauty of the pearl which was officially acknowledged in 1912, when The National Association of Jewelers selected it as one three birthstones for the month of June.
Pearls. Mystery, history and a touch of glamour.
Before cultured pearls existed, natural pearls were reserved for those with the means to acquire them. The earliest documented pearl worn as ornamentation dates back to 520 B.C. It was found in the tomb of a Persian princess and can now be found on display at the famous Louvre Museum in Paris, France. The notable Cleopatra was said to have drank her strand of pearls in order to win a bet against her husband, Marc Anthony, as to who between them lived a more lavish lifestyle. One of the most notable pearls in the world is referred to as La Peregrina Pearl. With a history that dates back 500 years, it was first found by an African slave who discovered it at Pearl Islands and exchanged it for freedom. From that point on it was bounced around between royal European families until the Hamilton family sold it to Richard Burton in 1969. At this point, it was gifted to his wife, Hollywood actress Elizabeth Taylor and eventually set into a necklace with diamonds, pearls and rubies by Cartier.
Pearls are the only birthstones made both by Mother Nature and living beings.
It is commonly known that pearls are formed from the shells of mollusks which takes place in pearl farms. However, natural pearls actually come from Oysters and are extremely rare and therefore very expensive. We know gemstones are created through the extreme pressures of the earth. While pearls are classified as gemstones, they technically are not. The oyster’s mantle creates a layer of nacre accompanied by calcium. A pearl is simply the composite of a mysterious concoction. The nacre dictates the unique design of each pearl.
The world’s first cultured pearl was born in 1893.
Today anyone can enjoy gorgeous pearls in a variety of styles and prices because most pearls today are cultured, thanks to Kokichi Mikimoto. He produced the first cultured pearl by manually introducing CaCO3 (the “mother-of-pearl”) as an irritant to the oyster. This phenomenon created what we know today as the Japanese Akoya pearl
. These types of pearls have the exact properties as natural pearls thanks to the helping hand of man.
Pearls require special care.
However it’s still easier to clean a pearl than a diamond. In order to preserve your pearl, it’s best to avoid scratches or scuffs to the surface. Hairspray, perfumes, cosmetics, and some acid-based products might be harmful to your pearls. The best way to clean pearls is with a few drops of water and an especially soft cloth (cotton works). All you have to do is gently wipe your strand before putting them away. If you want to go the extra mile and clean the clasp you can use a Q-tip dipped in jewelry cleaner, just don’t let it touch your precious pearls!
Pearls are unifying accessories.
They are timeless. They are fun. They are classic. There’s a plethora of unique ways in which to wear pearls because they have their own unique language when it comes to length and style. For instance, a common fashion trend is to wear a choker with a variety of outfits. Why not dress up your vintage look with a Chanel choker
from the 80’s?
Like people, pearls come in all shapes and colors.
Most people do not know that the color of a pearl actually depends on the shell in which it grows. Different mollusks produce different types of pearls. For instance, black pearls are not technically black but rather black with shades of green, blue, grey and silver. As you see featured above, Olympic Gold & Jewelry has black
, and silver
pearls. What makes the concept of pearls and their color so enticing is the unlimited possibility of tone and hue, coupled with luster and luminosity.
By Elise Gray