The Perfection of Pearls

The Perfection of Pearls

One of the purest symbols of the sea is the Pearl. 

Pearls were chosen to represent the June birthstone because historically, June was the most common months for weddings.  Associated with purity, humility and innocence, Pearls were traditionally given as wedding gifts.  Today, Moonstones are the second June birthstone.  Their white color and rainbow glow make them similar to the shimmer of a perfect Pearl. 

Where do Pearl’s come from:

Whether freshwater or saltwater, Pearls are the only birthstone formed by a living organism and can only be grown by a very small percentage of mollusk species. 

Oysters typically grow saltwater Pearls and freshwater are grown in mussels. While there are such things as Pearl “clams”, they are extremely rare.  Freshwater Pearls are less expensive because as many as 30 Pearls can be harvested out of one mussel, and growers can continue to reuse the mussel.  In contrast, saltwater Pearls are grown one per oyster. 

Pearls are formed in when an irritant is introduced into the host.  Sand or a small bead is inserted for a saltwater Pearl.  For freshwater Pearls, the tissue of the mollusk is cut which substitutes as the irritant. The oyster or mussel will then continually coat the irritant with white ‘nacre’ which forms the gem.

Pearls used to be exceedingly rare and were first discovered accidentally by divers foraging for food.  In 1893, Kokichi Mikimoto created a process called “culturing” which now allows Pearls to be grown in a farm like manner making them much more affordable. 

Each species produces a distinctive-looking gem that is characterized by a variation of colors and sizes. Freshwater pearls are naturally white, pink and peach whereas saltwater Pearls are white, light gray, dark gray, peacock, eggplant, dark gray, and gold. Freshwater Pearls can be treated with organic dyes.

Caring for your Pearls:

Freshwater Pearls have a thicker nacre than saltwater and therefore will withstand more frequent wear. They do require a bit of special handling though.

  • Put them on last. Protect the surface of your Pearls by avoiding contact with skincare products, hairspray and perfume.
  • To keep their luster, occasionally wipe your pearls with a soft, damp cloth. 
  • Avoid scratches by storing them separately from your other jewelry in a soft cloth pouch. 
  • Pearls love the oils from your skin! To keep them from drying out, wear them often.
  • With dyed Pearls, be careful to not to leave them in direct sunlight for a long period of time or they might fade.  

At SS Magpie, I use freshwater Pearls in my designs.  Their soft white glow reminds me of the baby powder sand of Siesta Key Beach.  They also represent strong symbols of overcoming the challenges life throws our way.  Where else can you fall in love with something that starts as a pain in the butt?

Looking to add some Pearls to your jewelry collection? I have one-of-a-kind designs featuring Coin, Keshi, Potato and Round varieties.  Find your perfect Pearl today.

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