Facts About Pearls Gemstone

For centuries, pearls have been worn by people who could afford them. These fascinating gems are universally appealing and they are appropriate with any type or style of clothing. They come in many sizes and price ranges.

Pearls are found inside a living creature, an oyster. They are formed when an irritant (such as pieces of debris, sand etc) enters the oyster. In order to protect itself, the oyster or mollusk secretes nacre (made of calcium carbonate) to coat the irritant, thus creating this wonderful gemstone. Oyster is not the only type of mollusk that can produce pearl, mussels and clams can also produce these valuable stones. Most pearls are produced by oysters in both saltwater and freshwater environments.

Man has found a way to create these June birthstones by inserting an irritant (nuclei) into these sea creature, stimulating the growth of pearls. All pearls made from this method are known as cultured pearls. The shape and size of the nuclei inserted will determine the shape and size of the pearl. Before they can be harvested, the oysters are left alone for several years to grow. The longer these oysters are left alone, the deeper the nacre, thus forming better luster pearls.

Virtually all pearls found today are cultured pearls whether they are grown in saltwater or freshwater. Pearls formed in saltwater oysters are more valuable and expensive than those formed in freshwater oysters. The world's finest Akoya saltwater pearls are produced by the Japanese for decades. Tahiti and Australia also produce saltwater pearls, prized for their great color, size and luster. Producing pearls with various freshwater shellfish was experimented by the Chinese several years ago, and now they are the largest producer of freshwater pearls in the world.

Once harvested, pearls are sorted and graded. The natural colors of freshwater pearls are shades of pink, white and peach. The Chinese also used other effective technique to enhance other colors. Examples of enhanced colors are blue, purple, peacock, green, gold and so on. The many variety of sizes, colors, texture and shapes make them fun to work with. While natural and cultured pearls are considered to be of equal quality, natural pearls are generally more expensive because they are rare. The luster of a genuine pearl remains stable while an imitation deteriorates over time.

Pearl is regarded as the birthstone for June and is associated with the Gemini zodiac sign, find out more about other gemstones facts.