Viewed as one of the token symbols of class and elegance, June's birthstone, the pearl is one of the most popular gemstones in the world, thanks to its versatile use and natural beauty. Learn more about the pearl industry, history, symbolism, and care down below!
1. Pearls are the only gems that can be found within living creatures.
All genuine pearls, both cultivated and natural, are formed when dust or sand irritants enter the soft tissue of oysters or mollusks, causing it to secrete something called nacre, which transforms into a pearl over time. These living creatures can be found in fresh or saltwater all over the world, with the most desired ones living in the South Sea. One strand of large, South Sea pearls can sell for over $100,000.
2. Most of the pearls in the world today are formed through cultivation.
Cultivation is the process where a person intervenes in the pearl making process by farming oysters, and inserting an irritant that encourages the soft tissue to excrete nacre, and form the pearly substance around the foreign source . Because they are grown on farms, they are much easier to harvest, as well as protect from predators. These pearls still count as authentic pearls, as they are grown naturally, as opposed to being manufactured. However, due to their rarity, naturally discovered pearls are much more expensive, often worth 10 to 20 times the value of cultivated pearls.
3. The first cultured pearl was patented in 1896 by Kokichi Mikimoto.
In 1896, Japanese entrepreneur, Kokichi Mikimoto was the first to successfully attempt and produce cultured pearls that were acknowledged by the world as authentic gemstones. He saw the need for such an industry due to the fact that pearls were such a rarity that they were accessible only for the wealthy citizens of society, whereas he wished to "adorn the necks of all women around the world with pearls". Mikimoto's brand still exists today, championing the idea that pearls can be for anyone, just like their founder, "The Pearl King", would have wanted.
4. Pearls represent purity, humility and innocence.
Dating back 5,000 years, pearls have long been a valued gemstone that symbolizes purity, humility, fertility, and innocence, often given to brides as a gift before their wedding. Pearls also have a connection to the sea and the moon, with legends stating that pearls were formed from the tears of the gods, or lightning striking the Earth's waters.
5. Pearls are a relatively soft gem and require special cleaning techniques.
According to the Gem Institute of America, pearls are a 2.5 to 3.0 on the Mohs Scale of hardness, and should be stored separately from your metal jewelry to avoid damage and scratches. In addition, you should wait to put them on until after you have sprayed any perfumes and applied any lotion, as they can form blemishes from the various chemicals.
When you do clean your pearls, the best method is to wipe them with a soft, damp cloth, using a solution of mild dish soap and lukewarm water if they appear stained. Just make sure not to submerge any strands of pearls in the water, as the water will weaken the strands, which could lead to breakage.
Here at Dacels, we offer many services including general repairs, jewelry restoration, as well as free jewelry cleaning. If you are looking to restore an old set of pearls, or purchase a new set for someone's birthday, then come visit our store room to see what all we have to offer!